So I happen to be blessed with a bunch of good friends . . .
who also happen to be mothers of young children.
Very young, as a matter of fact.
Little, little, little.
And so our conversation, quite naturally, often turns to the subject of toddlers and all things related.
Finger foods, potty-training, and throwing tantrums.
You know, that kind of stuff.
Although recently the topic revolved more around how quickly these little guys can get into mischief.
Like lightening fast.
And then my dear mom-friends shared how they feel they’re spending a rather large portion of their day keeping these babies out of trouble and telling their tots, NO.
NO, don’t touch that.
NO, don’t go there.
And, NO, you can’t do that.
And that’s when my mom-friends asked me, “How about you? Were you constantly chasing after your toddlers and telling them NO?”
At which point I replied, “Well, NO, not really.”
Then here’s what I shared.
It’s best to keep those little hands busy so that they don’t have as much time or opportunity to get into trouble.
Oh yes, raising toddlers requires brilliant strategy and creative thinking (and a whole lot of patience). These little people are smart, they’re quick, and they’re curious.
They are also BUSY.
So the key to toddlers is to keep them busy doing what you want them to do, rather than leaving them to their own imagination. Trust me.
Keeping Tots Out of Trouble
Now in case you, like my sweet mom-friends, are looking for some fun activities to occupy those darlings at your feet?
I’ve come up with a few tried-and-true ideas for you.
Well, 27 to be exact.
You might notice that a number of them shockingly resemble chores and you may question why work would be on a list for tiny people who can barely walk.
But you know what I noticed early on? These children – starting at the youngest age – love to help. They want to learn how to do things. They also want to be given a bit of responsibility.
So here are some fun ways to do just that . . . .
27 Fun Things For Toddlers To Do At Home
1. Arrange the silverware drawer. It might not be easy for you to let go of your desire for perfectly arranged cutlery but, believe me, it’s worth it.
2. Plant flower or vegetable seeds/starts. You might be surprised at the hours spent watching those seedlings come up out of the dirt. *Bonus: So many good lessons can be taught with this simple visual.
3. “Wash” dishes in soapy sink. Invest in a few unbreakables from the Thrift Store and let them have at it!
4. Read library books. Come home from the local library with arms full of brightly colored and interesting books to pour over. *Don’t forget the non-fiction section. Some of the best are here: books on animals and plants and bugs are fascinating!
5. Play in the sprinkler. No explanation necessary.
6. Set the table with spoons and napkins. They might be slow to start off, but they’ll be experts at setting the table by the time they’re five! You’ll be so glad too….
7. Blow bubbles. This can provide entertainment for a ridiculous amount of time.
8. Eat popsicles in the backyard. Although you might have to hose them off afterward. 😉
9. Help unload the dishwasher. Have them hand you one plate or cup at a time. You might even want to consider dedicating a lower cupboard to the cause and letting them put the dishes away too.
10. Throw a little tea party for two. A small pitcher of juice and a couple of crackers or cookies can provide more fun than it might first sound.
11. “Cook” with pots and pans. I know. They’re loud and admittedly obnoxious, but hey! it’s easier to clean up than coloring on the wall . . . right?
12. Sort beans or popcorn kernels into egg cartons. I think nearly all of my kids had a love affair with the dry navy beans at one point or another. Don’t ask me why. Just go with it.
13. Play dress-up. *Secret: They usually prefer the “real thing” to the made-for-kids stuff. Back to the Thrift Store!
14. Pretend with a large cardboard box. One of my personal favorites. Who would’ve thought so much happiness could come from one over-sized cardboard container? It’s almost worth buying a large appliance, just so you can have the box…
15. Dust furniture with a small duster. You never know what will grow out of this one! One of my daughters has turned into a dusting-fiend – at the age of 16. Makes me want to hug her just thinking about it!
16. Throw rocks. The cheapest entertainment anywhere. *Just make sure there are no windows or people nearby?
17. Clean with a small water-sprayer and rag. You know those 99-cent spray bottles you find at the check-out of nearly any retail store? Buy FIVE of them! You won’t be sorry. And think how your house will sparkle!
18. Water the garden. Hand that kid a hose or small watering-can and watch the joy!
19. Enjoy a picnic outside. One blanket + sandwich + drink = good times.
20. Play Dough with cookie cutters are fun! Yes, there’s some mess involved, but it could be worse…?
21. Tape “butcher paper” across the kitchen table and color away. So much freedom and expression when there are no lines or limits to the coloring!
22. Play in the dirt. Yep. Forget keeping your kid clean for an afternoon. Our 19-year-old daughter says that it’s one of her happiest memories….So what’s a little dirt after all?
23. “Sort” laundry – towels and washcloths are easiest. As long as you’re not a control-freak, this is a terrific chore for small people.
24. “Organize” the pantry. I actually made the entire bottom level of our pantry “kid-friendly.” All cans and buckets – they were allowed to “organize” to their heart’s content. Highly recommended.
25. Stack the bookshelves. Similar to the above, the lower shelves were dedicated to kids’ books and it was their “job” to stack them.
26. Scrub the kitchen floor with little scrub brush. I mop while he/she scrubs. Cleaning buddies. And we still clean together, even though they’re now grown up!
27. Cuddle with mommy. The best of all and the funnest thing ever.
To download this free printable, click the link below:
So enjoy those precious ones, my friends. I’m thankful for you and your faithful mothering.
And don’t forget to give them a little love from me!
*So what would you add to my list here? I always appreciate hearing your ideas too!
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Lisa is the happily-ever-after wife of Matt Jacobson and together they enjoy raising and home-educating their 8 children in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She encourages women to embrace the rich life of loving relationships and the high calling of being a wife and mother. Lisa is the author of 100 Ways to Love Your Husband and her husband is the author of 100 Ways to Love Your Wife. Matt and Lisa are also the co-hosts of the FAITHFUL LIFE podcast where they talk about what it means to be a biblical Christian in marriage, parenting, church, and culture.