I have a little toddler who toddles about my house doing hilarious and sometimes disastrous things. She's recently gained quite an affinity for toilet water and any objects that can fit inside of the toilet bowl. While I appreciate her creativity there, every time I see her with her hands in the toilet, I want to throw up a little. Yes, I know I can throw in a cartoon movie or put on some baby DVD to distract her from destructive activities when I need to get something done, but I hate the idea of just plopping my child down in front of the television. There are certainly times when it seems necessary (like when pregnant me is too exhausted to even stand) but whenever possible, I like to have an activity to give her where she will learn, develop, and grow mentally, rather than be merely entertained.
Thus, I give you a list of 5 activities (more to follow!) that
you can quickly give to your little toddler (or toddlers...) to do when YOU need to get something done besides chasing them around in circles.
2. Edible Play Dough. Best given to your little one while in a high chair. All small children love to play with play dough, but at a young age, you can't really trust them with it. Make an
edible play dough and let them mash it to their hearts content. Don't encourage them to eat it (you don't want them thinking normal play dough is edible) but if they chew on it a little or swallow a bite, it won't harm them. In fact, since it is mostly salt based, most kids will take one lick and then keep it far from their mouth.
3. Fruit Rings on Spaghetti. All you have to do here is get a piece of Styrofoam, stick straight pieces of dried spaghetti/fettuccine all around it randomly, and give it to your child with a bag of fruit ring cereal, then encourage them to put the fruit rings onto the long noodles. Worried about your little one chewing on the Styrofoam? Use the edible play dough from above as your base.
4. Cupboard Mayhem. Pull out a few plastic bowls, a metal pot or two, then some wooden spoons, and let your little one have a party with their make-shift drum set. It only takes a seconds to pull out of your cupboard and yes, you'll endure a cacophony of sounds, but you'll have a few moments to finish frosting that cake or baking those cookies uninterrupted.
5. Paper Bag It Up. Take out four or five paper bags and put a handful of dry cereal into each one and let your toddler loose on them. (Works great on the kitchen floor, since you'll definitely need to sweep up at the end, ;)) They will have fun emptying out the bags, putting the cereal back in the bags, and eating their favorite pieces. A little messy, but a lot of fun for your toddlin' tot.
Need more? Some of these activites are for slightly older children but can be adapted to younger tots. 40+ Cheap/Free Activites to Expand your Child's Mind.