I have recently gone from a full time working Mom to a part time working Mom. It is a glorious two days “off”. No lunches to pack, no commute or kids to drop off and some extra time to get odds & ends done around the house. Sounds serene… Then there’s the fact that I have two 1 year olds and one 3 year old… we aren’t very mobile and I’m not brave enough to go anywhere with all three of them except for the gated park. So, what do we do all day??? Plus, these days the weather has been no good to go to the park. They get sick of most of their toys and we all are subject to cabin fever. Here are a few of the tried & true activities that will always make them smile:
Curtain Peekaboo: We have floor length curtains. It’s amazing how much fun we have running from one to the next hiding and playing peekaboo. You can also do it with a sheet tent on the floor.
Kitchen Band: Pull out all of the utensils, pots, pans and bowls you have in your kitchen. Let them explore each for a while… when they get bored, show them how to make noise with each. Hit different objects to make different kinds of sounds. Not recommended if you have a headache!!
Dance Breaks: When I notice they are starting to get ants in their pants, I turn on some music. I have made a playlist on Spotify of some upbeat kid’s songs. I dance around, they dance around. They are too young to judge my silly moves. I remember my 5th grade teacher used to have dance breaks with us after a long, boring lesson. It was awesome then and it’s awesome now!
Melissa & Doug Magnet Puzzles:
They love these. It’s one of the only toy that keeps them occupied every day for more than 5-10mins. I make them round robin with the little magnet and it helps them learn how to share and take turns. There are a bunch of different kinds to choose from on Amazon.
Mommy Workout: I have not seen the inside of the gym in about 3 years now. Yet, my arms are toned. This is why: I throw them, put them on my legs in the air and do sit-ups, crawl around with them on my back, etc, etc… You can really make anything up!
Little Tikes Pillow Racers:
They got one of these for Christmas and we had to buy a second since it was in such high demand. They take turns as I push them around on it. I’ve also tied them together and taken them on a “train ride” around the house.
Happy Birthday!: I bought some trick candles that relight themselves. The kids LOVE them! After every meal, while they are still safely in their seats, we sing Happy Birthday and give everyone a chance to blow out the candle. Olivia LOVES waiting for the trick candle to magically relight. On any given day, we have sang Happy Birthday at least 10-20 times.
Bubbles: Cheap, easy and fun. If you blow them inside, make sure you wipe the floor afterward to avoid slippage!
The key is to stay creative and engage. Sometimes, if you just let the kids explore, they will find something new on their own… it is then your job to expand and make it into a fun activity or game! I find that anytime I try to set up some elaborate activity, they are over it before it has even begun.
The other piece of important advice I can give is to not stress about cleaning up or doing chores during non-napping hours. Of course, tidying up here and there is necessary; however, young toddlers are dying for your attention. Most of the time they misbehave, or act out, it is because they are trying to get that attention back on them. In about 10 years, when they are slamming the door in my face because they want alone time, I will be glad I left my house messy in order to wrestle around on the floor with them.