Our top tips on how to entertain toddlers at home
There is no doubt all parents have had moments in the house when it’s peeing it down with rain and the sinking realisation that there are 4 hours to fill before bedtime even begins… When you have nothing else to do this can often be an opportunity to get creative, play games or read books with your little ones but when you have stuff you actually ‘need to do’ - it becomes a little tricky! Here are 5 tips for keeping your toddler busy and allowing you to get on with those all-important tasks so you can enjoy spending time with them.
- Get your toddler involved
This is particularly good when the thing you need to do involves housework! Toddlers love copying us and it is a great way for them to learn. Occasionally it can feel like they are being more of a hindrance than a help but by showing them how to do something simple like sweeping with a little brush or cleaning their play area with a cloth and warm water they will feel empowered! I have a water spray bottle and cloth I keep on hand for my daughter to use when I need to get the cleaning done and she can help out too!
- Strange objects for the win!
For younger toddlers who are maybe not yet up to helping, use objects that are not usual ‘play items’ to entertain them, the weirder the better! This could be as simple as a cardboard box lying around that they can draw on or get into, toilet roll centres they can push balls through, or my favourite, a colander and some pipe cleaners to thread through - see here.
Another idea is to make up an old handbag of random objects that you can leave packed and give to your baby when you need a minute.
- Give them a task
This is a great one for kids who are a little bit older and have learnt basic things around the house. If I need to put the washing away, I will give my daughter a pile to sort into whose is who whilst I fold – this is a great brain game as well as getting them involved. Another idea is to get them to find things (even if you know where they are) such as their shoes or a specific toy, this gives them great independence as well as using their eyes and their brains to search.
- Make it a game
Children love games from an early age and setting challenges and mini tasks can be a great way to get them focused so you can finish that email… My favourite is the colour game – ‘how many x coloured objects can you find in your play area’ – give them 10 minutes to collect as many as they can and then an extra win if they can name all the items (for the older ones).
- Put a time limit on things
You may find one or all these ideas work for you to some degree but don’t expect them to entertain for hours on end. Children have a very limited and varied attention span and what may work one day won’t the next. I find these tasks are great for 15-30mins – any longer than that your little one may get bored and may be wanting your attention. You can help your child understand the time element by letting them set the timer on your phone or better still use a giant sand timer so they can visually see time passing.
I hope some of these tips will help to entertain your toddler and home and give you back some time in your day to do the things that feel like they never get done when children are around!
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