Having a toddler is no easy task but even more difficult is finding new and exciting activities to keep them occupied for more than five minutes. And with living between three very different climates of St Louis, northern Idaho, and southern California I’ve been able to adapt activities to each place. Aspen and I are throwing it back old-school not only with our matching Calvin Klein’s but with our best and most basic pastime, some of our favorites are the cheapest, simplest, and most rewarding:
Chalk – 20-30 min
It’s a great way to bring all the neighborhood kids together or to keep a whiney toddler distracted during the afternoon witching hours. We also use this time to discuss textures, colors, and shapes. Plus letting those creative juices flow – even when they can only produce scribbles – is great for their budding imaginations.
Bubbles – 30 min
A little messy but tons of fun for the littles. I haven’t splurged on the bubble machine to make it less messy because I keep telling myself I need to keep it simple for the sake of childhood. When we do bubbles at least I know that when she spills it all over herself (and then lays in the puddle she created) that it’ll wash right out of the clothes. Plus it’s adorable to hear her say “BUBBBB-BBBBBOWLLLLLS!”
Baby Pool – 60 min
My mom bought me a baby pool from Walmart for $10 and it’s worth a million bucks in our house. Aspen LOVES it and it’s so easy to watch her in a confined space. Throw in some “toys” you find in your baking cabinet (strainers, egg beaters, and measuring cups are big hits) and use your imagination. Pouring water out of one cup and into another is especially entertaining.
Play Kitchen – 20 min
We got ours from a friend (I’m a huge fan of hand-me-down toys when it comes to kids, it’s important for them to learn to make the best of what they are given and avoiding entitlement can be tricky). I recommend checking groups on Facebook for other great used items. (Sidenote: Am I worried about germs? Nope. Our kids need to build their immune systems and be exposed to the world. Unless I have a sickly child I’m not worrying about germs.) We have her go “into the kitchen” to make us some of her favorite foods (TOWWWWW-WST aka toast is currently on the leaderboard). The imagination goes wild as she learns how to fake eat and fake drink the food she fake makes.
Walks – 30-45 min
On our walks she is confined (HALLELUJAH!) and I get some exercise for my mind and body. We talk about the trees we see, we look for birds, we try to find colors, and we play hide and seek with the sun canopy on the Bob.
Coloring – 20 minutes
As long as she can keep her crayons confined to the paper this has potential to reward you with a whopping ten minutes of alone time and ten more minutes of coloring together – er, correction – coloring FOR her.
The park – 60 minutes
A tried and true winner every time. There’s other kids to watch, slides to try, bugs to see, snack time to take, big kids to copy, knee scrapes to be made, tears to be shed, distractions to be made by mom from the tears – you get the point.
Books – 30 minutes
This doubles as a great time for me to practice my improv acting skills as I work on all my different voices and inflections. I know I’m doing a good job when Aspen looks up at me with a side eye like “What the heck just came out of your mouth, Mom?” That’s when I really know I have talent. Plus my memorizing is truly at it’s peak with books such as “Go, Dog! Go!” High school speech class would be owned by me.