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I have been a working mom for 4 years now. Over the years, I have learned to manage my time better, and be more productive with whatever little time that I have.
However, there are days when the kids need to stay home. I report to an actual employer from 9am – 5pm everyday, and last minute childcare isn’t always possible. So, how do you keep your kids busy with toddler activities so you can work?
I’ve tried those cute Pinterest activities, but I’m sad to say that they don’t really work for us.
I spend 30 minutes the night before browsing for suitable activities for my kids, then spend another 15 minutes setting things up, but my kids will only end up playing for 5 minutes, and that’s it. To be honest, it’s a complete waste of my time.
I really try to make things simple in my house. Efficiency is key.
My kids are also at that age when they can play with each other, but they also end up arguing most of the time. Sibling rivalry is a real thing.
So I’ve had to really come up with clever ideas to keep my kids occupied and entertained so I can have pockets of time to work on other things.
In today’s post, I present to you a list of great activities to keep toddlers busy at home that doesn’t require too much work on your part! Some of these activities can be messy, but I’m always happy to clean up if they can buy me some toddler-free time!
We have an open concept house, so I usually work in the living room or dining room with my laptop while my kids play around the first floor if they are indoor activities. For outdoor activities, I usually sit on my covered porch while my kids roam around the front area of the house.
Fun Activities To Keep Toddlers Busy At Home
1. Build a Fort
Whenever I bring out the blankets, sleeping bags and pillows, my kids can go to town with them! They find ways to drape their blankets over chairs, couches and tables, and then pretend that it’s their camping site, or secret hiding spot from the monsters. It is such a fun way to encourage creativity too!
2. Make an obstacle course
You can use anything in the house to make this obstacle course. All it takes is just a little imagination and your kids will be entertained for hours!
3. Create a Toy Washing Station
My kids love playing with water. Thankfully, we have a bathtub at home. So, I dress them up in bathing suits, fill up the bathtub with water and place their favorite toys in it. Then, I give them a few wash cloths.
My daughters would stay in there forever if they had a choice!
4. Ice cubes
We never really serve anything with ice cubes at home. But at one of our friend’s birthday party, my kids went crazy over ice cubes. For a good part of the party, both girls were sitting at the table playing with ice cubes. So, I had an idea of using ice cubes for some play time at home!
Whether it’s winter or summer, as long as I supply them with some ice cubes, bowls and spoons, they will be occupied for a good 30 minutes!
5. Sensory bin
These are really easy to create. I use beans, rice, some smaller toys, spoons, cups and bowls. Both my daughters know that these are for play time, so they never really attempted to eat any of the uncooked rice or beans.
Alternatively, you can splurge on kinetic sand sets too. I reserve these for special days because I know my kids love playing with them.
This would usually last about 30 – 45 minutes.
6. Play with bubble wrap
I usually collect them as they come in packages. No need to even buy them!
My girls both enjoy popping the bubbles. It’s even better if the bubbles are small because it helps them develop finer motor skills.
7. Play I-spy
I have tons of I-spy books. The easy ones for the little one, and the harder ones for my older daughter. It is such a fun activity! My daughters can get really competitive, so they will not stop until they find every hidden object in the book.
8. Play music and have a dance party
Have a play list ready with their favorite songs and the little ones will have so much fun running around the house!
9. Play dough
My daughters never get bored of this. I supplement with some playdough cutters and plastic knives.
They get really creative with the shapes, but their favorite set is still the crazy haircut set and Drill and Fill Dentist Set!
If you ever run out of store-bought play dough, make your own with this simple recipe! It only takes a few minutes to make, and it feels just the same.
If you don’t mind cleaning up the mess, painting can be a great way to keep little ones occupied too. I usually lay the area with newspaper and make my kids wear a big apron so clean-up is faster.
Both my daughters love to sit with a whole stash of crayons and draw.
While they can’t really draw pictures yet, I would encourage them to color within the lines, and draw whatever that comes to mind.
12. Have a picnic at home
Have them pick out a spot, lay a blanket on the floor and serve snacks on the blanket.
Kids love this because it’s a nice change from their usual dining room, and they get to pretend that they are having a picnic!
13. Have a tea party
This is kind of like an extension of having a picnic at home. Only difference is, you let your kids use fancier china.
It’s an added bonus if your child loves to have tea party with her toys. My eldest likes to have imaginary tea parties with her stuffy. She would spend 15 minutes gathering her supplies, set them up nicely on a chair or table, and then would proceed to have her tea party.
This will easily give you another 30-45 minutes of free time to work!
14. Paper and scissors
This is only suitable for bigger kids who are around 3 to 4 years old. You will need to supervise initially to make sure that your toddler is able to use the scissors.
Just supply paper with some design/ lines on them, and let them practice their cutting skills.
15. Make sidewalk art
Give the kids sidewalk chalk and let them draw whatever they want outside.
You don’t even need to clean up because the rain will wash everything away.
16. Create a “town” on the sidewalk
I used to play this when I was younger too!
Have little ones draw roads and buildings on the sidewalk. Then, have them ride their bikes on the “roads” that they drew out.
17. Blow bubbles
Little ones just love bubbles. I mean, who doesn’t?
If smaller children can’t blow bubbles yet, have a few bubble machines running at the side so they can chase after bubbles and pop them.
All these activities sound amazing, but there will be days when nothing is going right. For example, your kid might not want to do any of these activities and have a meltdown.
Just remember, toddlers are still learning to express themselves.
Instead of feeling frustrated and helpless, take a deep breathe and tend to your kids. Be a mom on those days and tell yourself that work can wait.
Seek help from your husband, neighbor or other family members and have them watch your little ones for a few hours to give yourself the break that you need.
Then, have them try out these activities again the next day. On a good day, these activities can buy you some time to complete little tasks here and there while the kids are occupied.
So, try out these activities and let me know how it goes with your little ones!
Do you have any other fun and creative ideas to keep kids occupied at home? Leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you!
Before you go, check out this list of awesome and cheap summer activities to do with your kids!
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