For those times when you NEED to get something done…
but your sweet toddler is bored.
For those times when it is stormy outside and not good for an outing…
so you need an activity to grab at home.
And for those times when you want to give your child something new to do…
but have NO money…
We’ve all been there, so today I have a few suggestions that have served me well during the (almost) two years with my daughter and are already starting to help with my son.
If you’ve read my posts for any length of time you will know that we live on a limited budget and that there was even a time when we had just one vehicle so going on an outing during the week wasn’t an option. But there are ALWAYS things to do! You just have to think out of the box sometimes.
These are all activities that can be done together on a home day or can be something you set up for your little one while you get something done. I wouldn’t suggest leaving them ALL out at the same time though because that could create an overwhelming mess. I store several of them away and find that bringing them out one at a time creates even more excitement.
The beautiful thing about all of these activities is that the grand total I have spent on ALL OF THEM PUT TOGETHER is about $2!!
Wipes Box and Plastic Eggs
We all have wipes that we use for changing diapers, wiping faces after meals, and sometimes even cleaning the house! Well how about if you are able to find a good use for one of the boxes they come in? All I did was tape the top shut and then cut one hole in the top and one in the side.
Right after Easter I was able to find a huge bag of plastic eggs for $o.99 to complete this activity!
Depending on the age of the child there are many options here. When Heidi was younger just dropping the egg in the hole in the top of the box and pulling them out of the hole in the side was entertaining.
Now I often put little treats (like Cheerios) in a few of the eggs and it becomes a little scavenger hunt for her.
Hair Ties and a Milk Jug
This one cost me nothing because I just waited until we had an empty jug in the house and I always have plenty of hair ties around.
This one doesn’t even require altering the milk jug because you just use the hole in the top. The point of this is that when the ties are “relaxed” they are wider then the jug opening so it takes concentration, persistence, and motor skills to get them in.
As Heidi got older I started tying two ties together to make it even more challenging. But you can truly use anything that is flexible and will fit through the hole if adjusted correctly.
Hidden “DVD Baggies”
Now this activity has caused endless fun for my little Heidi (and endless “get stuff done” time for Mama) but it has to be prefaced with some training.
If your child has not mastered the knowledge of the word “no” (I show how I teach it here) then it would probably be better to hold off.
We have personally split our DVD collection into an “adults cabinet” and a “kids cabinet” and the kids are only allowed to play in their cabinet.
Once she learned how to open the DVDs I had to teach her that she was not allowed to actually take out the DVD and I have not had an issue with that.
All you do is take a box of sandwich baggies and put one in all the DVDs that your child is allowed to play with. Once she realized that each one had a baggie, it has become a daily tradition to sit down and find them while I get a couple things done. Then I make cleaning them up a team activity.
Pipe Cleaner Fun!
This is the other one that cost me about $1 for a bag of pipe cleaners.
With these you need to just let your imagination soar! The first time we brought them out I just put them in front of her and she explored.
Since then, I have tied them up into a wad (as illustrated) and let her pull them out. We have also made jewelry (as also illustrated) and she LOVED wearing it and taking it on and off!
One of Heidi’s favorite things to do whenever I’m working in the kitchen is to go to her cabinets and unload and reload EVERYTHING in them.
I have set aside three cabinets and filled them with non-breakables and give her free reign to do what she wants to with them.
Check out this previous post to see how I trained her to recognize her cabinets by marking them with ribbon.
Dollar Tree Hauls
Each time we find change in Daddy’s pockets we collect it in a little piggy bank that we were given when Heidi was born. After we have collected a few dollars we head over to a nearby Dollar Tree (where everything only costs $1) and pick up a few new toys!
For this last haul we got a little drawing pad, a foam puzzle, a box of crayons, a Bible coloring book, and bubbles!
I put all of these toys into a drawer I have reserved for her so that if I am in the middle of something and she seems bored I can say, “go check out your drawer!” and she finds plenty of entertainment!
Being Mama’s Helper
When I am busy doing chores I think the best way to entertain my little sweetie is to teach her to help me! Not only does she find a lot of pride in doing what Mama is doing but it is teaching her great things for the future.
Of course she is at the age where her “help” actually makes the task take longer but that will change in the future and it’s definitely worth it to raise a good little worker.
At the age of 21 months she already “helps” me:
– Load the washer and dryer
– Unload and reload the dishwasher, I handle the sharp or breakable things and give her the rest
– Dust, I hand her a clothe whenever I start to dust and she will find her own surface to work on
– Sweep, several times a day she will go get the broom and “sweep” the house
– Fold clothes, we are still working on differentiating between “folding” and “unfolding” but the heart is there 🙂
– And I have taught her that if you make a mess you pick it up so she has become very good at picking up her toys when I ask her to
There are so many cheap, easy options that you can find to help your child have fun. All it takes is a little imagination!
So, there you have it! I’d love to hear from you…what are your tricks and ideas when it comes to entertaining your toddler?