Have you ever had one of those days where you just feel mentally drained and you just can’t think of anything creative or new to do with your toddler? Or do you feel like each day is exactly the same? Like this = play with crayons for about five minutes until she tries to eat it, followed by 15 minutes of running around the kitchen island playing ‘tickle monster’, get outside for some vitamin d and she trips on a piece of chalk sending her into a meltdown that seems to carry on and on, run some errands, lunch, then nap (naps I love you), books and some more tickle monster…you get the point.
The days of just waving and ripping color tissue paper in front of my baby to get her giggling for hours are way over. Now my toddler has such a fickle attention span where one minute she’s smiling and dancing to some music then she’s throwing toys at the dog, next jumping on her mini trampoline and when I turn my head she attempts to make the jump onto the couch or ottoman…causing my heart to pound and surely increasing the number of grey hair on my head.
So on days where your brain is mush, you feel like you want to try something new, or you want a safer alternative to couch jumping come take a look at this list of ideas for fun activities. Most of these are free or materials are cheap.
Coloring - crayons, water color, finger paint (recipe for DIY edible finger paint here)
Chalk - you don’t need a chalk board, use the sidewalk, driveway or go to the park and let them use that sidewalk!
Play in water - have a pool? Community pool? Beach or lake? Don’t forget the bathtub! Give your kid a HUGE bubble bath to get crazy in even if it’s not bath time. Or fill up a big container with water and put objects inside and let your child’s imagination soar.
Sensory boards – Read all about them and how easy they are to make here!
Ball toss into muffin tin -sounds silly, but Lily goes crazy over this. Use a muffin tin & balls and stand back to shoot. Of course you have to make silly sounds when you throw the ball and make an even funnier sound when the ball lands in the tin or bounces out!
Make a fort - use blankets, chairs and the couch (bring a flash light or one of those Dream Light animal toys that makes stars inside the fort).
Ball pit – blow up a pool, toss in some balls and let the kids go at it! You can buy a bag of 100 plastic balls from Target for $14.99 (found here). Kids love this so much I had it up during Lily’s first birthday! Above picture courtesy of Kimberly Photography.
Play dress up in mommy & daddy’s clothes - pull out old clothes, hats, ties and necklaces. Extra points if you take old t-shirts and make super hero capes out of them! In a post about re-using paper toilet rolls I made super hero cuffs, that would go perfectly with the cape!
Cardboard box fun – seriously this is the best. Lily has more fun with the box her toys come out of then the toys themselves! You can make a fort or place objects inside a box and have your child re-open it while you act surprised…no kidding Lily once flipped over a spatula and wooden spoon I surprised her with, she carried around the spoon for an hour!
Dancing - this is one of my favorites. Put Pandora on or hit play on your itunes and get down with your bad self. Your toddler will love it! Try making her copy your dance moves. Turn the moves into jumping jacks or burpees and you have yourself a little cardio session. Your kid has no clue the difference between mountain climbers and the Macarena.
Play with instruments – make your own, bang on a tin can, place rice in two cups taped together and shake it, blow on an empty paper towel roll. Combine instrument play with dancing!)
Cloud flour - recipe here
Flashlight fun – turn off the lights and use a flashlight while you create shadow puppets on the wall…or just give the flashlight to your toddler and see what they do. The first time I did this Lily chased it just like a cat…purely for my entertainment!
Pretend Cooking – we have a mini play set that Lily loves to play with. Target carries an 89 piece plastic food set for only $14 that keeps Lily’s imagination going (find it here). If you don’t have these, no problem- give your kid safe kitchen objects. Lily loves it when I give her a bowl and a whisk and put some cheerios in the bowl and let her mix her food!
Playdough – I have a recipe that I used to make ornaments that is a DIY playdough
Working on another list of ideas for y’all that I will post next week and if you have any free or cheap ideas please share!