If your toddlers are anything like mine, they require a lot of “mommy time”.
Some days seem to be worse than others.
But they all have one thing in common. Toddlers never get tired of spending time with mom!
It doesn’t matter if you need ten minutes to drink your cup of coffee in peace, send the too-long-ignored emails or prepare lunch without tripping over your little one.
We all need a few minutes for ourselves.
But hardly any activity seem to entertain your toddler long enough.
Am I right?
Therefore I would like to offer you a few ideas that have been a success in our house. On top of that, I looked around at other mom blogs to find what works for other families.
There is no guarantee, however, that your toddler will like or even care for any of them. But you won’t know until you try!
Other toddler-related articles on Planes & Balloons:
- 5 Different Ways to Potty Train Your Toddler
- 12 Life Skills for Toddlers: What to Teach Them While They’re Young
- Toddler Language Development: A Comprehensive Guide
- Toddler Schedule: A Real Life Example [plus tips for creating your own]
Know your toddler first
To successfully achieve a few (or many) minutes of calm in the house, it is necessary to have realistic expectations.
Most toddlers are not “made” to sit quietly, keep their hands for themselves and use a quiet voice. Their minds are so curious and so hungry for experiences that all that running around, climbing, grabbing, and throwing is simply a developmental stage. Learn more about setting healthy boundaries in toddlers in 5 Key Truths About Raising Toddlers To Remember Every Day.
With all that being said, it is absolutely crucial to adapt to your toddler’s natural temperament. Is he high-energy or maybe more mellow? Does he prefer sit-down activities or would he much rather ride his firetruck all day long?
In both cases, it is a good practice to let your toddler burn some energy first. Take him outside, let him slide and climb on the playground or push his push toy around for as long as he likes (and you can handle).
I know this is hard, I personally would prefer to stay at home in the morning. But for the sake of my and my boys’ sanity, we head outside before their morning snack, almost every day.
They are much more willing to play on their own afterward.
Another thing that I have noticed is that when I give a lot of positive attention to my boys in the morning and when I take the time to simply sit and play with them for good 30 minutes, they eventually relax and take off to play on their own.
You know what they say in the classroom. The child that misbehaves the most is the child that needs the most love!
It just might be the case when one of those mornings happen at home.
Our favorite quiet time activities
To be honest, we have tried many Pinterest ideas, some of which worked, others not at all.
That’s what I mean when I say that you won’t know until you try!
But the more you understand your child’s natural inclination and interests, the easier it will be for you to come up with your own quiet time activities.
The ideas below require almost no preparation or specialty toys.
The very important aspect of all of them is that they need to keep the “novelty” to them. Don’t do the same activity every day, because your toddler will get bored of it very quickly. And the magic will be gone.
Even though these ideas are meant to serve as a break for you, it doesn’t mean you don’t need to supervise your child. Always keep your toddler at your sight, even if she is playing on her own.
Now, here is the list:
I found this idea in a book called The Toddler’s Busy Book: 365 Creative Games And Activities To Keep Your 1 1/2-to-3-Year-Old Busy. This book is amazing for using simple everyday items to entertain toddlers.
Basically, collect fun pictures from magazines, food packaging, old postcards, calendars etc., cover them with laminating paper for durability and make a nice picture collection for your toddler.
My boys love theirs!
You can keep adding more and more items as your little one grows and his interests change.
Remember to keep it out of reach and only let your toddler play with it during his quiet time. It will make it that more special.
Plus, you can easily bring it with you for longer car rides too.
We use our ottoman as a storage for extra toys.
From time to time I open it up and let my boys play in it. They love climbing in and out, exploring the extra toys and items we store in there and simply have fun.
Nothing fancy, but it works.
Try this if you can, but first, make sure there are no harmful objects hiding in it.
A stack of old CDs
If you have a stack of old CDs that you don’t care about anymore (they will get scratched), use them to entertain your toddler.
Just bring them out, open the case and let your little one play away.
Our toddlers stay entertained like this for quite some time. They stack them, roll them all over the floor, gaze at their reflections and so on.
Make sure to help your toddler to pick them up afterward.
This one never seems to get old.
Whenever I need a good half hour break, I let our boys play in the kitchen.
We use safety latches on all the kitchen cabinets at the moment. But there are two of them I happily open up for my little ones.
One cabinet contains our water bottles, thermoses and Christmas cookie cutters. Another one is full of bowls and lids.
Not only are our boys super thrilled to play with them, they also practice their fine motor skills trying to match and put the right lids on bottles and bowls.
Try to make one cabinet full of safe objects and let your toddler play with them occasionally.
Young children love to explore objects they see mom and dad use every day. So why not to foster their natural curiosity?
What child doesn’t love stickers?
We usually play with them together, but sometimes I offer my toddlers a sheet of their favorite stickers to play on their own.
And they never complain, lol.
Have a special sketchbook for your little one or big sheet of paper he can stick his favorite stickers on.
Don’t be surprised, however, if you find them everywhere after such playtime.
I discovered this idea from several other moms and it definitely works!
Out toddlers love to push random boxes around. But this activity allows them to explore a cardboard box from the inside.
Place your toddler into a box and offer him a lot of crayons or pencils. And let him draw away!
If you do this for the first time, you might want to show her what to do at first. She will catch on quickly, I promise.
Make sure the box is in a safe area and it can’t tip over. I usually place our boxes between the couch and ottoman. That way when the boys stand up and goof off, they don’t fall out.
Make sure to stay near your little one, so when she is done, you can help her get out.
Ideas from other moms
Here are 10 inspirational ideas from other mom bloggers I am definitely going to try in the near future with my toddlers. Most require some prep time but seem very easy to do.
1. Sticker Line-Up from Busy Toddler. Susie’s blog has a ton of toddler activities worth trying! Make sure to check it out!
2. This Velcro sticks activity seems to be easy enough for a young toddler to handle.
3. The simplicity of these cardboard beads is brilliant!
4. I know one of my twins will absolutely love this pipe cleaners activity. Great way to practice fine motor skills.
5. Easy to make pom-pom drop activity will fascinate every young toddler.
6. Toddler busy bags are very popular these days. These busy bags are suitable for older toddlers, but some younger ones might enjoy them too.
7. Lacing cards are easy to make and are an amazing fine motor skill activity. Make sure you show your toddler what to do at first, so he doesn’t get too frustrated trying to figure it out.
8. Matching objects looks very easy to prepare and fun activity to do!
9. Stacking cups in a different manner. This looks super fun and is extremely easy. No prep time required!
10. I love making our own toys. These 2-piece puzzles are an excellent idea.
I hope you found some of these ideas helpful and your toddler will enjoy them.