Posts Tagged ‘indoors’

Seven Ways to Keep Your Toddler Busy Indoors

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

Seven Ways to Keep Your Toddler Busy IndoorsDuring the summer, we go to the park or the lake every day. Every day.  It seems like being indoors or having too much screen time wears my kids out mentally but not physically, and that’s a recipe for evening meltdowns. Being outdoors keeps the bodies and minds both so active that it makes for an easy bedtime.

But during the winter, that’s not always possible. Even if you live somewhere where snow isn’t an issue, sometimes it’s just too cold or windy to enjoy your time outdoors. That’s when I employ some special strategies for entertaining my toddlers. These activities are fun to do with them or if you just need a little time to get something done during the day.

  1. Build a hall fort. I saw this idea on Pinterest (of course) and it was super fancy with sewing and applique and cutouts. Well, who has time for that nonsense? I tried the basic idea of just putting a baby gate up horizontally in the hallway with a sheet thrown over it, and you would have thought I invented electricity. So there.
  2. Make toys out of ordinary stuff. Toddlers will play with anything, and their favorite game is take it out/put it in, so you can basically grab anything around your house and make this game. The noisier, the better.
  3. Give them something forbidden (That’s kid safe). Does your toddler love to unroll the toilet paper? Stick tape to things? Get out all the pots and pans and play in the cabinet? Sure, it’s not sustainable in the long term, but if you need to occupy them for a bit, give them a roll of toilet paper, tape, or whatever it is they are always wanting to get their hands on and just figure that it’s cheaper than a babysitter.
  4. Dye the bathtub water. I have noticed a reoccurring theme with toddlers is that changing something you do all the time can blow their little minds. Like putting dye in the bathtub. Make it blue and throw in plastic fish or sharks and call it the ocean, or whatever you want to do. You can use special tub dye, food coloring, or even make your own bathtub dye or crayons.  
  5. Move a toy somewhere new. Piggybacking on the last idea, taking something ordinary and putting it somewhere new can bring new life to an old toy or activity. Take the dollhouse to your office, move the train table to the kitchen, make your child’s room into their own “house” or move a toy set into a closet or hidden little place. It may be not be your ideal locale, but after a few days they lose interest and you can move it back.
  6. Find free indoor play areas near you. If we need more excitement than I can muster up at home, I always know of a few things we can do locally for free or nearly free. Among them, our library playroom, the mall play area one town over, and a yogurt shop that has an indoor play area. This one isn’t free, but I can usually get everyone yogurt by the ounce for under $5, so it’s good enough for me. In Fort Worth, there were some churches that also had amazing play areas that were opened up to the public during the week. These are great for rainy days or snow days when everyone is home. Mom Maps is supposed to help you find indoor play areas, but when I did a trial run it listed the Department of the Treasury, which I am guessing does not have an indoor playground, so use with caution.  
  7. Make a playdate! The best way to wear any kid out is a play date! Invite a friend over who also has kids and they can wear each other out. With young kids, it doesn’t really matter if the other children are boys, girls, babies or older kids. Kids are kids, and kids are fun! My kids have even included a friend’s baby in a game of school while he sat in the baby bucket. Dogs that are good with children will work, too. All they need is a warm body that will smile at them occasionally, and it’s a play date.

No one made any rules that you have to stay indoors on yucky days–if it’s warm out but just rainy, your toddler will probably love playing in the rain if there’s no chance of lighting. If you have the right gear, snow doesn’t have to stop you either. You can bundle up and babywear while snowshoeing or hiking, or even let your toddler try skiing or ice skating if your little one is up for it. Just be ready to bail if they get cranky or cold. Or, you can always take the utilitarian approach and buy a child-sized shovel perfect for employing some child labor  in clearing your ridiculously long driveway! Your call. 

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three girls. She lives and writes in Queensbury, New York.