How to Keep Your Toddler Entertained and THRIVING while at Home Every Day!
What is one of the very first words you think of when you hear the word toddler? For me, it is BUSY. So busy. Everything is new, different, and even more accessible now that they are on the move.
It is easy to get overwhelmed with the dozen different directions your toddler is headed, but there is a positive side to it all. Now that you have a toddler, you have a kiddo who is capable of staying a little more concentrated on an activity. And if you have an older toddler, you’ve got one who is starting to verbally communicate.
So now that we’ve established that your toddler is busy, how do you entertain them? Get busy with them! Toddlers respond to interaction from adults and thrive on us getting down on their level and playing.
We are in the thick of toddlerhood at our house with my 2-year-old. Every day he learns a new word, a new way to move (he just learned how to jump with 2 feet!) and new ways to explore. I often find myself wondering how he got to something before I did and how quickly he moves.
Although my little guy is my third, I have to revisit my brain for ways I embraced the toddler years in the past. Here are some of my favorite ways to get busy with my little guy.
Create a Routine
This is the easiest way to make the day run smoother. It doesn’t have to be extreme, just a list to help keep the day moving forward.
In our home, we start with breakfast, then immediately head to do our morning checklist. We brush our teeth, make our beds, get dressed, and comb our hair. Even though we might not have big plans to leave the house that day, it’s great to teach my kiddos these routines and encourage their independence.
Once we are all ready for the day, we head straight to the playroom. We have a little bit of free play time then move onto reading time. We pick out 2 books each and sit and read together. After reading time and open playtime is over, we will do some sort of craft or sensory activity (details on some of my favorites below).
I want to make an important note about open playtime and working within a schedule. The schedule is there to help you determine what to do next when a change is needed. If my kiddo picks up a book after we’ve finished reading the ones we have picked out, I let him sit and look through pictures. He may sit and do this for 15 minutes and you better believe I am going to let him. If we read a book about a fire truck and he instantly wants to play with his collection of them, I’ll absolutely encourage it and allow it. If we don’t get to the craft I planned for the day, that’s totally ok!
Now back to what we do for the rest of the day….
When the weather is right, we always have some sort of outdoor time. I like to do a mid-morning sit-down snack and afternoon snack as well.
One of my favorite “mom hacks” is that I also tell my kids we have “chore time”. There is always that one thing on my list that desperately needs to get done, and I have found it is easier to include my toddler in the activity rather than try to sneak away to do it. Whether it is laundry, washing pots and pans, or unloading the dishwasher, I get them involved!
As I mentioned earlier, daily activities are a lifesaver when it comes to keeping your toddler occupied throughout the day. Here’s a look at my favorite activities:
I love a good bin system and this one does not disappoint. Organized by the day of the week, each bin contains everyday items you probably have hanging around your house. You’ll find that the ideas are simple, yet entertaining for your toddler. He or she will be working on a lot of their fine motor skills when playing with these bins.
Toddlers love repetition and this activity uses just that. I like this one because it draws the child’s attention in and needs them to focus on how to complete the task. This particular one uses water, which may be more age-appropriate for an older toddler, but with supervision and hands-on help, it could be used with younger toddlers too.
Ready to get your toddler’s gross motor skills going? Head out for a color scavenger hunt. We often go on “hunts” outside for different things. Some of our favorites are a leaf hunt in the fall or signs of spring hunt in the spring. This one could be used indoors or outdoors, as it deals with colors. If you plan to do this outside, it may work better in the spring or summer months. I can also see this activity being fun to do inside, though.
This activity uses all of your extra craft supplies you have sitting around your house. By using the sticky side of contact paper, your child can create their own mural with different craft or household items. It is fun to see if your child has any sort of system to how they decorate their mural. I also love hearing how they describe the different scraps they are given. I like doing this with seasonal objects throughout the year.
Playdoh is a favorite at our house by all three of my kids. My toddler has just discovered his love for it and it is currently the activity that holds his attention the longest! This homemade recipe is great because not only does it provide fun colors, but also smells delicious! Once you go homemade, you’ll never wanna go back to store-bought! We sometimes make “sparkle” playdoh at our house but adding in a little bit of glitter.
This activity takes some fine motor skills and problem-solving. By making your own puzzles, you control the size of your puzzle and the picture. This particular activity has farm animals. I like starting out by just cutting the puzzle in half once. Once that seems too easy for your tot, cut the puzzles into fourths. Pair this activity up with your favorite farm book to add to your day.
I hope you noticed the theme of simplicity throughout these activities. It doesn’t take much to occupy your toddler and these activities take minimal prep and very little planning on your part. Now time to get busy!