I am going to start with a disclaimer before we even dive-in, I bet there is at least one mom out there that needs to hear what I have to say; My life situation is different from yours, by no means am I offering you the perfect solution to solve all your problems.
I am operating with one little boy who is almost four. Every kid is different, and every mother/child relationship is different, and that’s how the real-world functions.
Hopefully, my suggestions and encouragement below will inspire you to find out what works for you.
Before you get started on the best way to ensure success is to pre-plan!
If you already know the address of the new places you want to check out, community schedules, have all the supplies for the craft or project you have in mind, it’s a lot easier to jump right into the fun.
All of that being said, here are a few fun ideas on how to incorporate having fun with my toddler in a typical week.
1. Clean With Your Kid
What? Not what you were expecting? Most of the time, your little human wants to be in proximity to you; they want to be helpful.
Being a stay at home mom means there are always things to do around the house, and a cleaning does not have to be an isolated task you have to take care of all by yourself.
When you encourage your little ones to help clean and organize, there will be fewer questions when they are older, and you ask them to help out. Keeping them engaged also prevents them from causing waves of destruction in another room; nothing will make you feel defeated than walking into a destroyed room after you have been working so hard.
There are probably a good number of tasks your toddler is willing and capable to help with if you can accept that it isn’t going to be perfect:
- Sorting and putting away clothes
- Washing dishes (Make sure there’s nothing sharp in reach!)
- Putting toys away in their assigned area
- Dust with a dry rag
- Baby wipes are also great for wiping down surfaces. (The dirties area is going to be right at their level anyway.)
- Spray bottle with water and a little vinegar and a rag can be used for tougher grime.
- Handheld vacuums and Swiffer are great to run around on the floors. (Again, baby wipes or even a cleaning rag can let your little one go a bit crazy on the floor without the fear of being wasteful.)
Try “12 Ways to Get Your Kids to Help Clean” for more tips to getting your kids to clean with you.
2. Go On Adventures With Your Kid
Once the older kids are back in school, a lot of community places have more room to explore without the fear of getting trampled. I recommend starting in the mornings and early afternoons when you both are fresh and well-rested.
Check out all the local parks and walking trails available to you. Church playgrounds are also another option you may not have been aware of. Many churches that do not offer weekday programs for kids have signs on their playgrounds that welcome and encourage the public to come to play during the week. No one would bat an eye if you popped in or called the church office to double-check.
Exploring new places outside can lead to observing new things in nature, playing games like I-spy, practicing creating patterns out of finding natural objects, let them get a little dirty, keep some baby wipes in the car.
One of the biggest things we have been working on is making sure to bring picnic snacks with us. This has been a heated topic of conversation for my toddler and me because it also relates to being healthy and saving money.
Going out doesn’t mean you have to eat out! No, we cannot live off of the golden arches alone! Fruit, crackers, water all travel in the car easily enough for a snack anywhere.
Libraries are also a fantastic resource to tap into. These aren’t your humdrum storytimes of the past. So many have sensory activities, full energy storytimes, state park passes, and some libraries even have a selection of toys that can be “checked out” as well.
Many libraries are connected with media borrowing apps (Hoopla, Overdrive or Libby) you can find tv shows, movies, music, audiobooks, and e-books without leaving home! If your county isn’t that great at offering activities check out what’s going on at adjoining counties. We have library cards for multiple areas!
Even going grocery shopping can be a lot less stressful, not having to fight the crowds as much. It gives them opportunities to give your little one more freedom if you are brave enough.
I made the mistake of letting him use a small shopping cart. Now no other option will do. He has only clipped my ankles a few times.
Even at the store, we work on listening skills, picking out the right boxes on the shelves, looking at isle numbers, learning left and right, being courteous to other shoppers and staff. And most importantly, having fun with my kid!
3. Create With Your Kid
After you go on those adventurous nature walks if you collect some leaves and rocks, they make an excellent medium for art! Make prints with the leaves and painting on rocks will be a classic art till the end of time. Toddlers are full of limitless creativity, tap into and encourage it!
Have your kids help create notes and letters that they can send in the mail to family members or friends. Think about what the holidays are coming up and go all-in on the decorations, DIY decoration ideas are easy enough to find, there are books at the library and of course the internet.
Give yourself a time limit for scrolling on Pinterest. This also goes back to pre-planning, so you don’t get sucked in for hours.
Click on “20 Gifts for Crafters that will Bring DIY Fun to the Holiday” for great ideas on how you and your child can make DIY gifts for everyone at home.
In our house we’re going to be hitting the typical holiday gauntlet of Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and the bonus of multiple birthdays sprinkled in the middle.
This is the time that I start to pull together ideas for handmade gifts. Decorating a picture frame, tote bag, or t-shirt are great options for abstract toddler art.
4. Help a Friend Or Neighbor Together
As I mentioned, many of the creative activities you do with your toddler could be great gifts; it also encourages the conversation to think about other people.
Make a meal for someone in need, whether a new mom or someone else in need helps keep the community connected.
You can also check around for community volunteer events, many of which are kid-friendly. When you and your kids get the chance to reach out, you get to make connections with other adults, and it also helps remind your kids that despite what they may think, no they are not the center of the universe and yes they can help others.
Baking is always fun, but it’s better to share the treats with others before they are all consumed. Let your little one help whip up a batch of cookies, from scratch, mix, or even premade dough from the store, no judgment here. Decorate them, put them in gift boxes, and share with friends or neighbors.
Try to make a connection with any elderly neighbors that may be nearby. Most of the time, they welcome the company of some young energy. And if taking care of tasks around the house is a norm for you, helping someone else keep up with a few chores or tending to their garden will be another thing your kids are willing to do with little complaint.
5. Learn with your kid
You might have a list of things you want to do eventually, take a look at it and consider if you are limited now. What skills do you want to learn or sharpen?
Best bet whatever you want to do your little ones can be included. Music, yoga, lettering, cooking, gardening, all of these things can be done together!
When I am just too busy or need a mental break from my mom’s role, I am desperate for my toddler to be more independent in his play.
Creating a “Busy Box” is helpful, collect up things that are age-appropriate for your little one; coloring books, pipe cleaner, beads, lace cards, play-doh, these are all these things are great, but I have a hard time reminding myself that’s independent play is not always naturally occurring for toddlers.
The best way to promote your kid to play by himself is by showing him, so that means playing together first. Fine motor skills, creative problem solving, all great things for your little one to learn on their own but they have to be shown.
My little guy is so easy to be overwhelmed when given too many things or something new. Play alongside them; it’s good practice for your brain also.
I’ve heard more than a handful of discussions related to moms just not being great at imaginative play. There is no shame in that at all, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.
Let your kid take the lead, ask them questions, or make up a scenario. Take their favorite story or character and base it off of their adventures.
Out of all this advice and ideas, I wanted to share; did you catch the theme of where fun can be had? You have access to engage and have fun with your kids in everything you do, even the mundane tasks. You are all your child wants.
Slow down and bring them into the fold and you both will be able to enjoy a lot more.
Thank you for reading! Let us know in the comments below what other activities you’re taking advantage of to bond with your children! We’d love to add some more to the list. Be sure to check out more content like “Garden Plant Recommendations For Busy Stay at Home Moms” to see how gardening can be another activity to add to your fun list to do with your child.
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