7 Tips for Staying Sane When You’re Stuck at Home with Your Toddler
As our children’s first two years of life draw to a close and we are forced to say goodbye to the two-nap-times-a-day, pack-n-play, clean-the-house-with-a-baby-Bjorn, kind of lifestyle we have grown accustomed to, us parents are forced to ask ourselves, “How the heck am I supposed to get ANYTHING done?!” You can say bye-bye to the bouncers and swinging chairs; your child has just discovered something called free will, and boy, are they about to exercise it! Have no fear, parents.
When it comes to little kids, fun can be incorporated into almost any household task. Keep your child active and entertained while you take care of things with some of these go-to (and most importantly, free) tricks!
Singing makes EVERYTHING more fun
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Music is excellent for getting wild toddlers to focus on the task at hand. I find this one particularly helpful when I’m going from room to room, trying to tidy up. Sing about whatever you’re doing and put it to the tune of a song like “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” and your child will want to jump right in. I usually change the words out each time I switch tasks to keep my daughter engaged. I know it sounds ridiculous, but “Make, Make, Make the Bed” and “Pickup, Pickup, Pickup the Clothes” are HUGE hits in my house, and let’s be honest, our kids are definitely old enough to start pitching in.
Bust a Move
Music for the win again! If you’re tired of your toddler clinging to you like plastic wrap as you try to accomplish something they are too small to help you with (i.e. washing the dishes, rearranging furniture), get a speaker and blast some Disney music to keep them distracted. Let your child know that sometimes it’s okay (even preferable) to let your energy out inside the house instead of shadowing every step mommy or daddy takes. It will wear them out for a good nap AND get them out from under your feet.
Rainy day? Inside Picnic.
The food thing. We’ve all been there. The days of mushy baby food and flavorless puffs are long gone and it’s time to encourage your child to indulge in something a little more substantial. I cannot count how many hours of valuable free time I have spent trying to get my daughter to eat something other than snack food, all for her to throw a fit and end up eating crackers for lunch anyway. So how do we get our stubborn two and three-year-olds to eat a full meal? Surprisingly enough, something as simple as eating on the floor instead of at the table can inspire your child to try new things. Let them help you pack up a good, healthy lunch spread and lay a blanket out wherever they so desire (my daughter loves to picnic in her bedroom, of course). It sounds silly, but the excitement of the “picnic” and getting to participate in packing up the food will make your child more likely to try the unfamiliar things.
Mini sou-chefs in training
Don’t be scared to let your kids help! If you’re one of those parents (like me) who likes to save your future self some trouble by planning meals way ahead of time, you’re probably familiar with how much work it can be. Whether it’s preparing lunches or a week worth of crockpot meals, there’s always something that needs doing. Fortunately for us, our toddlers are now at the age where they get a kick out of helping out. This trait can sometimes be irritating when you’re trying to do the obvious adult tasks, but don’t make the mistake of underestimating your child’s ability. Obviously, they aren’t going to be doing any chopping or dicing, but things like bagging, throwing away peels, and mixing with their hands are fun and (for the most part) helpful; not to mention, participating in preparing food will have a healthy effect on them.
Good ol’ fashioned pillow fort
When you’ve been home all day, your child will reach a point where playing with toys, watching television, and phone games simply aren’t cutting it. Out of ideas? Build a fort! Given the age, you’ll probably have to do most of the building, but usually building a fort for my daughter to play in will buy me about an hour of time to get some other things done.
Simon Says “clap your hands and stomp your feet while mommy lays here”
This is my go-to if I’m having one of those days where I’m downright exhausted and my kid is driving me up the wall. If you can’t summon the energy to get up and play, sit down and play! Games like “Simon Says’ and “I-Spy” are easy to do while kicking your feet up. Since toddlers don’t mind the repetition, it will probably keep them engaged for a while, and it’s a great brain exercise.
Out with the old
Time to organize that kitchen junk-drawer or sort through the avalanche that is your closet? Here’s another thing that’s productive for you and surprisingly fun for your little one. My daughter LOVES to dress up in my old clothes, shoes, hats, jewelry, etc. and always likes fiddling around with the random yard-sale worthy objects that are cluttering the house as I go through them. A lot of the time I’ll let her keep things that she likes and I can usually get her to help me pack things away for Goodwill. She always has fun being able to help out and it also passes along another good lifestyle lesson: knowing when to let go of things you don’t use anymore.
About the Author – Chloe Heimer
Chloe Heimer is a musician, mom, and blogger for Taylor Robinson Music. She lives with her 3-year-old daughter Charlie in Louisa, Virginia.