As a mother of an energy-filled toddler, I know how quickly a day at home can turn into a boredom-filled afternoon. There are many ways to entertain a child if you’ve got a car to go out, or big backyard to play in; but what if you don’t have access to these things, or its bad weather outside? Here are a few ideas to keep that bouncing baby happy while stuck inside.
As parents we are taught to fear our children accessing the television and internet. But at a toddler’s young age, these tools can open a vast door of playtime. Typing letters and numbers in a word document creates a challenging and educational past time; or open up paint to doodle with colors and shapes. Have an iPhone/iPad? There are tons of apps created specifically for toddlers that are both fun and educational; my son, at 20 months, had his alphabet, basic shapes, numbers and colors memorized due to a few .99 cent apps on his grandfather’s iPod Touch. For those of us who can’t afford such technology, sites like www.nickjr.com offer great educational games for free, as well as a community of parents where there is a potentially unlimited supply of further ideas.
The Old-Fashioned Way
A few crayons and some paper can equal hours of playtime. Ask your child to draw certain objects or make a card for a friend or family member. Building blocks are a great form of entertainment; Megabloks have large blocks easy for toddler hands, and has sets with cartoon figures which turns building time into story time. Toddlers love books, and cardboard books are perfect for their destructive hands. Even if you don’t have time to read to them, they enjoy looking at the pictures and words, searching for things that they understand and making up their own story along the way.
Whether you are building a blanket fort or playing army with dinosaurs versus dollies, if you are on the ground with them, any time is a good time. If you are working from home, sometimes this is difficult to accomplish. Take frequent short breaks and let them do as much with you as possible: turn a bathroom break into “potty training time”, let them sit at the counter while you make their favorite snack. Get a piece of paper and let them draw while sitting on your lap while you are working at the computer. If you are on the phone, let them have a toy phone and pretend to be talking too. At this age, toddlers want to be their parents, and when they are with you is when they feel the greatest sense of accomplishment.