Anyone living with toddlers will know that cooping them up in the house all day means you’ll very likely need to buy a new house by the end of the day.
Unfortunately it’s just not possible to play outside sometimes due to illness, weather fail or the fact that Mama simply can’t face the softplay crowd in the same sick-poo shirt yet again.
There are hundreds of ideas out there for entertaining the energetic toddler. However, if like me you’re not gifted with Pinterest worthy artistic skills, luxury of time, bottomless wallet (unless you count the rip), or live in a mansion cum arts and crafts store, here are some realistic, tried and tested ideas to get you through those dark days (and I don’t just mean in winter):
1. Activity board
All you need is a large, flat piece of cardboard (mine is from the TV box), some kitchen and loo rolls, and tape. The kids don’t care if it doesn’t look pretty (mine definitely doesn’t). In fact, the uglier the better so they can cover it in doodles and stickers (buys you at least another 12 minutes).
2. Painting in the bathtub
Not much explanation required here. Grab a couple of bottles of non-toxic, water based paints, some brushes (or not, hands and feet work just as well), one butt naked toddler (it’s ok if they want to pee in the bath, work on potty training while you’re at it) and let them go to town!
3. Bake cookies
One for both parents and littl’uns. Let them help pour and stir the ingredients. Give them a little chair and apron so they can get involved. Unless you’re Nigella, I found that a simple, dummy-proof recipe worked best. The oven time teaches your kids patience and the eating teaches them that no matter what people say, cookies taste good (just how it is I’m afraid).
Want to make shaped biscuits but don’t have cutters? Just about anything can become a cookie cutter. Jars, apple corers, bottle tops, mini storage boxes, various lids etc. I used the shapes from her shape sorter toy. Ta-da!
I don’t know what it is but small children seem to love doing Yoga! I guess that’s why toddler Yoga classes are in high demand. For them, it’s fun to contort their (oh so flexible) bodies into various poses, explore new movements and channel creativity. Fantastic for developing gross motor skills and the breathing technique is a proven effective way to calm those toddler tantrums. Bonus! Plus, it’s great for keeping your own body in shape while instilling a healthy interest in well-being in your kids.
5. Built a den, hammock or tent
Find a duvet, a bed or cushions, then add toddler(s) to the mix! All this game requires is some imagination. My toddler goes through periods of being scared of various things – the hoover, thunder, ghosts, airplanes … so she loves to hide under the duvet (tent) from these terrifying items! It’s also the only time she remains quiet and still. Of course I’ve never used this to my advantage, that would be terrible parenting (yes, I absolutely have).
If there are two of you then you can take one end of the duvet each and it magically turns into a hammock! The swings have my kids screaming in excitement! It’s also a great upper body workout for the adults.
As long as you’re enthusiastic, it’s possible to get your toddlers engaged in almost anything, even the most mundane of tasks! Happy playing.