If like me you are working from home whilst trying to entertain a little one you will know that the majority of craft ideas are just not realistically possible. Secondly, by my own admittance, will do anything to avoid role play! I will do any activity with Fred, but running around with Captain America’s imaginary shield while Fred attacks me with Spidey webs is not the one. That aside though, it is the multi tasking that does me in more than anything. It’s the constant guilt of wanting to keep him happy whilst continuing to contribute to actually paying the bills and keep the house in order. Like most families we rely on both of us working so it’s just not possible for me to be free all day as much as Fred would love that. Here is a list of suggestions, from you guys you amazing bunch. I’ve chucked a few of ours in there too. All low maintenance easy to set up activities that will (in theory) keep ours little ones happy and entertained.
What I will say before listing all these is that I am a big believer in kids being bored from time to time. The pressure to constantly entertain is real, and this is in no way a preachy ‘look at me’ blog. But we all know toddlers are often too little to be able to independently play without guidance. That’s why telly time is fine and iPads are great sometimes. Your sanity is absolutely number one in my book because you are not good to anyone if you are up to your tits in crafts can not physically do on top of everything else. Do it your way and f*ck what anyone else thinks. Your kids are loved, fed and clean (well mine’s sometimes clean) and that’s all that matters. These are just simple ideas collectively created by us all to help inspire you (and me) on the days we need it.
I’d love to hear any additions you would bring to this list. The Five Minute Mum was recommended lots by all of you too so once I’m done with these, know that there is heaps of Inspo there too! Lots of love gang.
The Loo Roll Marble Run – You will need loo roll tubes, a bowl and a ball/marble/pom pom. Cut loo rolls in half like guttering, stick to the wall/door creating a run that zig zags down the door. Pop a bowl at the bottom to catch the ball.
The Floor Is Lava – You will need cushions. Scatter cushions like stepping stones around the floor. Encourage them to hope from sofa to sofa only touching the cushions.
Toy Hide and Seek – You will need some toys. This is one of our faves and Fred doesn’t seem to tire of it and we can kill a good hour playing it. Hide a selection of toys in a room/downstairs. Challenge them to find them. Add a timer if they are getting bored (obviously extend the timer to suit your needs!)
Pass The Message – You will need pen and paper. This was a genius idea sent by @charminglifebyjess. Both parents are working from home so they write notes to each other and get their little one to pass the messages to and from them. It’s a short activity but he loves it and gets some attention whilst still letting them work.
Freeze and Smash – You will need a few bowls, toys and water. Pop a few toys into a bowl, fill with water and freeze overnight. Empty onto a tray the following day and let them pour water all over them and smash them until they free the toys. Perfect for sunnier days.
Zig Zag Shape Tape- You will need masking tape. Creating a zig zag pattern on the floor for them to follow. Use the tape to make shapes either side and get them to jump on different shapes. If you need this done independently and have time you could chuck a load of toys in a box and get them to pick one out and pop it in the shape it is.
Buried Treasure- You will need sand and toys. Bury the toys in the sand and let them dig for treasure.
Sink Or Float- You will need a large tuppaware/sink and various toys. Let them drop toys into the water and work out if they sink or float.
Water Painting- You will need a paintbrush and a cup of water. Painting with no mess. The walls, the pavements, the fence. Sorted.
Coloured Water Tea Party – You will need a tea set/cups, food colouring and water. Better on a sunny day outside, but let them pour different coloured water from cup to cup having their own little tea party.
Obstacle Course- You will need any household objects you can get involved. Freddie is quite a physical little boy so this sort of thing suits his nature. You can use cushions as stepping stones, a broom to hop over , a hula hoop to jump through, get them to balance an ball on a spoon, beanbag on their head and so on. The ideas are endless and there’s heaps of inspiration online.
Cosmic Yoga- You will need YouTube. Cosmic Yoga has short fun classes little ones can follow. I find this is hit and miss with Freddie, but some days he will do it quite happily while I work.
Washing Up Toys – You will need toys a tub and some sponges. Not going to teach you to suck eggs on this one. A good old fashioned activity I’ve no doubt we’ve all done.
Dry Pasta (Sort, Paint, Count, Stick, Hide) – One for all the pasta stock pilers haha im kidding. Sorting different pasta shapes into bowls is a good one in our house, or popping pasta in an empty bottle to make a musical instrument. We’ve not done threading yet but I reckon Fred would enjoy that too.
Throw and Stick Sellotape- Wrap sellotape around the legs of your table or stick across an open door. Throw objects and see what sticks.
Scavenger Hunt- Write a list of things to find on your walk, or in the garden. I find that when I make a little more effort in-between working hours (realistic effort!) Freddie is often better and more chilled when I do need to get on. This is a good way to do something together and one I like.
Colour Sorting- You will need anything at all. We use a pack of craft pom poms for this but we have also used a big box of toys. When I’ve needed Fred to play independently for while I’ve just popped paper out for each colour.
Bingo- You will need a pack of cards. Not one to play on their own obviously but Kev taught Freddie how to play Bingo and he loves it. Again, it’s an activity that I have energy for in between working and makes me feel less guilty as he is getting that quality time with me. He also shouts FRINGO which is hilarious and worth playing just for that.
Sock Take- You will need a pile of odds socks that need pairing up. This one is double win! One of your recommendations which I’m yet to try. If this works it is GENIUS!
Sprinkler- Outside activity of course but a great alternative to the paddling pool which isn’t always doable. Safer for a little one whilst you work nearby too.
Mid Day Bath – I have 100% done this before. Taken my laptop up to the bathroom and worked while Freddie plays in the bath. He loves bath time so we just take new toys up as a treat and that usually buys me half an hour.
Puzzles- I always thought Fred was too little for puzzles but he loves them. Ones with 12-16 pieces he can do fairly independently. Easy to set up at the table while you work
Leg Tattoos- You will need a leg and a pen! For those days you’re desperate. Let them draw all over your leg giving you tattoos. Funny how they concentrate longer than on paper. I choose the easy life!
Can you bring me….? – Literally as it sounds. Can you bring me a cushion, something red, something soft. Makes for some tidying up after but maybe that can be part of the game too.
Cutting and Sticking- You will need glue, some paper and child friendly scissors. I am desperate to do this with Fred as I think he will really enjoy it. A friend actually sent us some great printables and as he loves puzzles I thought he would love cutting and sticking things together but we don’t have kids scissors currently. Lots of worksheets online and a good one to do at the table while you work.
Teddy Bear Nursery- Set up their bears and give them the job of being in charge and looking after them like it’s nursery. The can read stories, sing songs, feed them, put them to bed etc.
Playdoh Cutting- You will need playdoh and a plastic/wooden knife. Bloody playdoh! One way Freddie will play without needing me to construct the entire avengers team is if I quickly roll out lots of snakes and let him chop them up into pieces. Another one he can do next to me at the table too.
Connect The Pairs – You will need a piece of paper and a pen/pencil. On one side of the paper draw a list of letters/shapes/numbers and on the other do the same but in a different order. Children use the pen to draw a line connecting the pairs. Quick to set up and can make a few sheets in minutes.
Water Play- Freddie loves water and I can give him a tub with various jugs, cups and ladles and he will play with water pouring it to and fro for a good while. Obviously messy but he can do in the kitchen where I work on a floor that’s can get wet with no issues.
Cardboard Box Fun- Some kids dig a cardboard box, some don’t. Of course, if you are working full time, constructing an Instagram worthy kingdom is not the one. However, slinging them inside with a pack of crayons/felt tips can def keep them happy for a while. As can filling the box with balls which we did recently.
Ipad Apps- I’ve aslways praised the iPad. I don’t care what anyone says its 100% contributed to Freddie’s development in positive ways so can’t be all bad.These are a few of the apps we have used and love that aren’t him just sitting on Kids YouTube.
Baby Games (Icon is a little bear) – Little Islands with different challenges from colour sorting, to shape sorting, pairs and threes and lots more.
Learning Games (Icon is the same little bear) – An extension of the activities above
Animal Games (Icon is a lion)- This is a puzzle with varied levels.
Baby Games (Icon is a ladybird)- A keypad to explore letters, numbers, colours, shapes and foods.
Smart Shapes(Icon is green with a red hexagon and yellow circle)- Shape sorting which challenges them to learn bigger and smaller alongside matching colours and shapes simultaneously.
Feed The Monkey- (icon is a monkey and says ‘Busy Things’)- App asks them to feed the monkey two items with differing amounts. This develops their ability to follow two step instructions
Animal Maze (icon is a purple elephant) – Children have to get the animal to their final destination through a maze. We still have to help Fred with this one
Baby Games (icon is a parrot)- A mix of games such as pairs, puzzles, colouring, building, music playing and so on
I am more aware than anyone how this list isn’t a magic wand but I believe it’s key to have each others back as parents and try and share ideas where we can, especially at a time like this where a lot of families are under incredible emotional pressure on top of working too. I hope this helps in some way. Thank you for sharing your ideas with me, if nothing else this has given me some inspiration! Some great ones here I’m actually looking forward to trying. Please feel free to add further suggestions below, the more the merrier. Stay safe team and remember, you can only do what you can do. You are human and this period of time is not normal. You can’t possibly be a mum, nursery leader, boss, house keeper, wife and all the other bollocks we are meant to do seamlessly all in one go. Keep a bottle of wine in the fridge at all times and if it doesn’t go to plan one day, chuck it in the f*ck it bucket and start again tomorrow. Lots of love x