As a somewhat seasoned (ha ha, yeah right!) stay at home/work at home mom, I’ve had to learn how to entertain my toddler for the 8 waking hours I’m alone with him every day. I can’t say I’m the best at it, since I typically will give in to his pleading to watch TV (I’m telling you, I think I’ve created a monster!), but I have a few tricks up my sleeve. And I try to limit the TV to one show a day. (Usually Sid, the Science Kid. Because I need to exercise MY brain, too!)
Two words: Running Bike
My little love bug wakes up rearing to go every single morning at 6:00 a.m. on the dot. First thing he typically asks for is to ride his bike (or sometimes the TV wins out). Since it’s still dark out (crazy child) we usually ride around the house & the back patio until the sun comes up.
This is the bike Solo-boy rides:
It’s called a “Running bike” and it daily buys us at least an hour of blissful entertainment. And he’s been riding it since he was 18 months old! No pedals, the little tyke just runs and coasts. It’s great for learning balance. He’s only had a few spills. Ok, a lot of spills. He’ll forgive me when he’s older.
After the morning ride and breakfast is eaten, we’ll often take the bike out for another spin. One of our favorite things to do is ride down to the corner popsicle shop and get a fruit bar (these are on practically every corner in Mexico). Then we’ll sit on a bench, lick our little hearts out while people-watching.
Note: Since most of you probably don’t live in the land of corner popsicle stands, here is an alternative. Make your own: Blend Peanut butter, banana & vanilla soy milk. Freeze. Simple goodness. (I’m too lazy to try and remember how much of each, so just add till your heart’s content.) P.S. Thanks to @NewBreedMama for the idea!
This is a super fun, multi-step activity. Grab a stool or stepladder and let your tot help you make edible finger paint. Yes, you heard me right. EDIBLE. Here’s a simple recipe that gives you options of using Vanilla pudding, Kool-aid or jell-o. A toddler’s dream.
Next you wander out to the backyard, (or anywhere you have some space) and lay out some large butcher paper. Then proceed to set out the finger paint and act like your toddler’s NOT supposed to touch it. Trust me: recipe for instant fun. Oh and when he puts it in his mouth, act shocked. Drama always works with these little guys.
And that’s it! Watch as your tot explores the colors and texture & creates a masterpiece.
Note: If you are too lazy to make edible finger paint (totally don’t blame you), just use play dough or yogurt or anything gooey or slimy.
Note #2: If you are too lazy to clean up gooey stuff, substitute with a non-messy craft like stickers & index cards & safety scissors. Put a bunch of craft supplies in a paper bag and leave it out for your tot to “find” when he’s wandering around the house, bored. He’ll open the bag up, think it’s something off-limits, and dig in! (Great idea, @kachipa!)
Solo-boy’s new favorite thing is the hose. So, on a hot day, set out a small kiddie pool filled with Tupperware and plastic cups, buckets and bowls. Then attach a spray nozzle to your hose, turn the water on super low and let your tot fill up the pool…and the bowls & dishes… and teach him to water the plants while you are at it! He will love being your little helper. If you are really brave you can even close all the windows and let him “water” the windows and then with a hand-held squeegee you can clean them together. FUN!
Another fun idea to do on the back patio or in the yard: Plastic containers filled with dry beans & rice. Your tot will LOVE pouring the beans and rice from big containers into smaller containers and running his fingers through them. Super easy and you can save the beans & rice to use over and over again. Thanks @CholeJB for this sweet idea!
At around 2 years of age your tot’s imagination begins. (I’m totally making this up, but it sounds about right.) We have these super cute finger puppets that my niece gave Solo-boy for his 1st birthday. He is just now taking a real interest in them and loves to put them on his fingers and make all the different animal sounds. I’m pretty sure she got them at IKEA, so I’m guessing they are uber cheap. So, win-win!
So, set up a pillow or box or anything within arm’s reach (don’t want to over-exert ourselves!) and put on a mini puppet show together! For better results do it in front of a mirror so you can both laugh at yourselves.
I’m definitely not the expert on toddler outings, but I figured I’d include a few score outings we’ve had.
- Go to a mall that has a train and hop on. Your tot will be chanting “Choo Choo” for weeks. Make sure you videotape the ride so you can kill more hours of time watching the clip over & over together.
- Visit the closest Children’s science museum. I’m telling you – 2 hours of nonstop fun will be had. Guaranteed. Oh, and spend lots of time in the Bubble exhibit. At this age bubbles are like a passport straight to heaven. (Thanks @unxpctdblessing for reminding me!)
- Visit the Zoo. Again, ride the train. This might even kill THREE hours.
- Take your tot to ride a pony. Solo-boy is a bit frightened of the ponies, but he rides the big horses with daddy (is this legal in the U.S.?) and LOOOOVES it. Don’t forget to videotape. He will love watching himself being such a big boy.
- Go to the nearest pond with ducks. Bring lots of duck food (we use cheerios, I hope that’s not animal abuse) and feed the ducks together. Videotape.
- Is there a Japanese Garden near you? Ours has tons of fish and turtles. Solo-boy is super intrigued by the turtles. We love to go watch them swim.
- And, last but not least (because 7 is an awesome number), don’t even get me started on swimming pools. We go swimming AT LEAST twice a week. This simple outing will wear your child sooo out, I guarantee you’ll be thanking me the morning-after.
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