Being stuck indoors with an active toddler is enough to fill any parent with a sense of dread. The days are long, 10 minutes of play feels like hours, and you constantly find yourself clock-watching, silently willing bedtime ever closer.
But it is possible, even with the most limited of resources, to keep little ones busy and yourself sane, providing a space for you to give attention to babies and older children who perhaps might need home-schooling or dare I say it, even allowing you to sit down with a coffee!
Easy at-home activities for toddlers
Find inspiration around the house
Some of the very best activities are those dreamt up using everyday household items. A cardboard box is a classic and what better excuse for online shopping! Just grab a box, throw in a handful of crayons, stickers, arts & crafts resources, blankets or soft toys and let your little one loose. It’s like a giant play pen and best of all, it can be easily moved to any room you’re working in.
Get out of the playroom
If there’s one thing kids love, it’s novelty. Give their old toys a new lease of life by letting them play with them in a new setting. Under the dining table (even better if you’ve thrown a blanket over the top to make a den), behind the sofa, in the hallway, the sink (try adding a bit of water too for double the fun), an empty bath, or your bed. Anywhere goes, and all of a sudden their old toys are amazing.
Try a sensory box
Grab any old tray, container, or large tupperware and fill it with rice, pasta, or cereal (anything lurking at the back of the pantry!). Add a selection of utensils, cups and spoons and invite your little one to get pouring, playing, and scooping. Minimum effort for maximum play! You could also try to a treasure basket filled with a collection of themed items from around the house. It could be shiny things, a specific colour, or natural resources like sticks, pebbles, and shells.
Role play for the day
It can take a little longer to set up, but a role play scenario provides hours (or days!) of entertainment. Not only is this great for keeping your little one engaged, it helps to boost their real-world learning and spark their little imaginations, too. You could set up a shoe shop, a supermarket, a cafe, a post office, and more. It doesn’t need to be complicated, a few items like a pot of coins and a notepad can go a long way!
Listen to what they love
It also pays to take inspiration from the things your child enjoys. For example, if they’re into cars, set up an obstacle course for theirs. If they love all things space, create a cardboard space control centre. Or if they want to be a policeman when they grow up, turn your living room in to a S.W.A.T school for the day. It might take a bit more time to set up, but I can guarantee it’ll keep them occupied for hours.
My top tips for at-home play
If all else fails, you’re stuck, tired or just can’t be bothered, grab a book and cuddle up to read together or let them flick through it themselves. You never know, it may even inspire an idea of something to do, make or play.
My final tip is to stock up on your play cupboard essentials so that you always have something to reach for. Some of my favourites include:
- Washi tape
- Play dough
- A plastic tea seat
- Small world people
- Good old art supplies!
It can be daunting trying to think of ways to fill your days with a toddler but remember that they don’t need to be busy 24/7 with all-singing, all-dancing, Pinterest-worthy activities. It’s not realistic! If you choose to have a day in your PJs or use TV to earn yourself a rest, then that really is ok. Don’t put pressure on yourself, your kids think you are amazing regardless.