Toddlers have immense energy stocked up inside them. On one hand, you are busy the entire day, running errands and if you have a toddler around, you are constantly on your toes. What is more difficult is to keep coming up with new ideas to keep them busy. Moreover, the attention span of toddlers is very short. Therefore, you need to have multiple ideas and activities ready so that you can skip from one to the other as required.
First of all, to ensure that toddlers keep themselves busy without any harm, you need to create a safe and stimulating space so that they can play independently. If the area is not safe, we will have to keep going to them to check, which will distract the little ones.
Here I am enlisting few ideas for you to keep your little ones busy with stuff you probably already have somewhere in your house.
Gather a few things from around the house, and put them in a basket / box. Put all the things that your little one doesn’t have access to, e.g. 2-3 plastic bottles of different shapes, wooden spatula, paint brush, small plastic spoon, a ball, a small magnifying glass, telephone receiver, 2-3 toys, an old remote, 1-2 cloth pieces, artificial flower etc. This is bound to engage your little one for enough time for you to get a job done.
Though you can give simple play dough to your little one, but if she/ he is too young for unsupervised play, give them some flour play dough. You may add on a plate and a rolling pin with it. For making the dough, knead the dough with some baby oil and little water. Its safe and a fun idea to keep them busy.
For this activity, you will have to do some preparation before hand. Just put few plastic animals in ice tray along with some water and freeze them. Give them some warm water and frozen animal cubes – it is bound to give you at least 30 minutes of rest !
4. Sticker Sheets Play
Kids love sticker !! There are many inexpensive stickers available in the market today, merely Rs.3 – 5 per sheet. Also, these are easily removable if stuck on a door or floor. Keep a stock with you at all times. I do !! Just give them a door or a chart paper/ transparent sheet stuck to the wall/ door/ floor to stick the stickers. Alternatively, you may even buy a sticker booklet to keep them busy. They will be busy for quite some time !!
While you are busy cooking and the little one is asking for some attention, give them some magnetic alphabets and numbers to stick on the refrigerator. You may sing the ABC rhyme along with her/ him. Also, ask them to sort the magnetic stuff color-wise. I gave my son the magnetic alphabets while folding the laundry in the bedroom. He was busy with them on the steel almirah !
6. Tent House
Make a castle (tent house) for your little princess / prince with some old bedsheets. You can do this by covering the dining table with double bedsheets and put a small rug/ mattress underneath for the little one to sit. Throw in some pillows and stuff toys and you are sure to keep them there for a very long time !!
Another idea to confine them to a place is a cardboard box. Though the above pic shows some work which has been done beforehand, you can just use a marker to draw details instead of colored paper and stick-ons. Kids love pretend plays. So here is one idea for them to become a fireman / police man or even a batman !!
Enhance your toddler’s creativity and keep him busier with these Clay Playmats. Just take a few printouts and get them laminated. These laminated sheets can be worked upon by kiddos and are easily wiped after play. You may even use erasable markers instead of clay here.
9. Cotton balls in a plastic bottle
We all have an empty plastic cold drink bottle somewhere in the house. Just buy some cotton balls or pom-poms for the play. Give your little one cotton balls to be inserted in the bottle through the slim neck. The can be easily taken out later on with the help of a tweezer. Your kiddo will want to do it again and again. It was a favorite game of my son when he was just 1 year old.
Take any waste cardboard sheet and draw a few shapes on it. Give your little one a pencil to dig small holes with it along the shape. I prefer making them sit on the floor for this as it is safer. Its fun and engaging!
11. Waste Bottle Drawer
When my son was a crawler, I emptied one bottom drawer of my kitchen cabinet for him. I filled it up with empty bottles of shampoo, conditioner, baby lotion, juice, and other harmless things for him to explore while I was cooking. It kept him engaged and I didn’t have to worry about him wandering off to the unwanted areas for exploring. You may even give him some plastic containers, boxes for stacking or making a tower.
If its difficult for you to spare a kitchen drawer, you may fill a basket/ box with such stuff and make him sit nearby where you can watch him. Ensure that this box be given to him only on special times (when you need some time for your work) otherwise she/ he will loose interest in it.
12. Coloring activities
Keep some scrap paper/ newspaper/ chart paper or cardboard sheets (from cereal or other boxes) handy. Give your toddler some crayons and some paper for free coloring and/ or drawing. You can always tell them that their art will go on the fridge once it is done. This will motivate them to create something. Alternatively, use coloring books if your little gets bored of free coloring.
I do not prefer paints as it becomes messy, even if you keep an eye.
13. Water Play
Put your little one in the bathroom with some bath toys and some containers of different sizes. Let him have fun splashing water, pouring and just playing freely with water. You may add some toys like stackers, blocks, plastic animals to make it more fun. My little one spends upto an hour with disturbing me !!!
14. Daily Busy Box
Every Sunday, make 5 busy boxes – one for each day from Monday to Friday. Sort all his toys, books, activities etc. and put them separately in each box for them to keep busy while you work. Leave Saturday – Sunday for free play and outings. Kiddo will look forward to a new box everyday and play with even those toys which he’s forgotten about. For more details, please click here.
Then, there are toys – all kids have numerous toys – blocks, peg boards, puzzles etc.. But they get bored / tired with them easily. What you can do is change the place where they generally play or think of something else. E.g. I let my son play with his peg board, while lying on the kitchen floor. He was just happy that he could see mumma around.
16. Imaginative play
Kids love pretend / imaginary play. Be it cars and tracks, Doll House, Doctor Patient, Kitchen Set – It is all very fascinating. My little one plays with cars and builds his own stories, with cars talking and fighting with each other !! We all know that pretend play boosts a kid’s imagination and makes him more creative !! So encourage it for long hours of play when you need time to yourself.
I have tried my best to list out all the things I have done (and do) with my little one. All these activities have given me immense time to cook/ put out laundry and do other errands. I have sometimes been able to watch TV uninterrupted for a while !! So, good luck to you, ladies !! Go on and steal some me time!!