Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Seven Ways to Occupy Your Toddler

Now that it's winter and we are stuck inside, my son has tons of energy. If only I could discover a way to harness the energy of a toddler... Until that time, I've come up with several ideas to keep him busy. My son is a busy body. Like most boys, he's active. One thing that works for us is what I like to call Quiet, Busy. I'll do one active thing and then one quiet thing and rotate between the two. This doesn't always work, but when it does, things seem to go more smoothly. As time goes on, I'll add to the list.

1. Fort Building
My son is three and I'm pretty sure this is his all time favorite thing to do. Sometimes it's a rocket ship, sometimes it's a boat and sometimes it's a castle. We get all the cushions, pillows and blankets and have at it. I think I've made at least ten rocket ships this week. They even break down and we have to fix them with tools. Usually a screwdriver and hammer. I'm pretty sure he thinks anything can be fixed with a screwdriver and hammer.

2. Super Hero/ Fire Fighter/ Doctor
Dress up isn't just for girls. Boys love to do it too. And you don't need much. I found a super easy DIY cape online and made a few. Basically you just cut up an old t-shirt. Leave the neck and back in place and cut out the rest. Voila, instant cape. Santa was kind enough to give us a Firefighter outfit and he got a doctor kit last year for his birthday.

3. Play dough
Explanation not necessary. Buy it, make it. Whatever. Kids love it.

4. Painting/ Gluing/ Coloring
Whether it's finger painting or with a brush, it's fun, creative and messy. Kids love to get messy. Use junk mail for paper if you are running low. You know all that leftover tissue paper from gifts? Cut it up and let them glue it on the paper. Or let them tear it. Sometimes that's fun too. I like to cover the table with a dollar store table cloth for easy clean up.

5. Jump
Bounce houses are fun, but they can start to get expensive. Recycle that old crib mattress. Put it on the floor and let them jump until their hearts are content. Better yet, put on some music and jump with them.

6. Bake
This one can be a little tricky. Especially for the nibby nose, busy toddler. I've learned a lesson or two here. Like don't turn your back. Not even for a second. Seriously. Or something like someone dumping dirty kitchen sink water into the pizza dough you just made while you turn on the oven could happen. I usually let my son add pre-measured ingredients, turn on the stand mixer and "make" pizzas, pie's or cookies. Cookie decorating can be fun too. Just prepare things ahead of time.

7. Indoor Bowling
Two summers ago I bought a kids bowling set, but you could use some stuff lying around your house. If you have kids, I'm sure you have balls somewhere. You only need one. Use empty cans, tall skinny toys, or cut up some cereal boxes.

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