5 Tips for Toddler Play When You’ve Got Something Else To Do

by Alissa Marquess on March 28, 2014

When you’ve got a toddler in the house, you’re always busy and they will happily command ALL of your attention.  However sometimes you’ve got other things to do – and you need your toddler to be busy so you can attempt to complete a task.  Not only that, it’s healthy for kids to get a chance to play independently.

Tips for Keeping Toddlers Playfully Busy

Tips and Things to Do With Toddlers When You’d Got Something Else To Do:

  • It is helpful to have an easy to access collection of items that are interesting to toddlers.  We have a toddler activity cupboard that I keep stocked with things like recyclables, bins and boxes.
  • Sensory play – things that excite the sense of smell, touch, hearing, tend to be the most engaging. Some of these quick set up sensory activities can work well with toddlers or preschoolers.  However…
  • Choose items which are pretty easy to clean up when you know you won’t be giving your full attention to the toddler’s play.  This is why, in this list of “independent” toddler activities I gave her cotton balls with treasures in them rather than beans for instance.  They still have an interesting sensory feel, but won’t spread so far when dropped.
  • To stretch out the activity, you can have your toddler set up somewhere near by and then give out new material bit by bit, allowing your toddler to fully explore new items before adding on.  In this post about water play with toddlers I talk about building onto the play gradually.
  • Don’t feel guilty about not always being fully engaged with your toddler while he plays.  Sometimes it’s very good for him to have a time of exploring by himself.  He will feel excited by the discoveries he makes on his own and will gradually learn the important skill of entertaining himself.  We are hoping to raise resilient kids, right?  This means they need moments to struggle and learn on their own!

And finally,  know this: you’re  not failing if you have a feeling like you’re never getting anything done.  Toddlerhood is a busy, busy time.  You’re not the only one with a bit of chaos in your home during the toddler years! It will pass.  In the mean time – try out a couple of the tips above, and whether they work or not, enjoy the things that are the most delightful things to do with toddlers while you have the chance.  Good Luck!

baby play zero to twoMore On Life with Toddlers:

8 comments
Amanda Flanigan
Amanda Flanigan

I used to play hide and seek with my children while tidying the house.

Denali Parent Coaching
Denali Parent Coaching

Some of our favorites--a BIG cardboard box, taking the time when our toddlers were asleep to set up some of their toys in unique ways (such as lining up all their toy animals on a 2x4 board; laying out their favorite doll, a towel, and a tub of water; adding sleeping bags and a flashlight to the cardboard box...), water play absolutely--made easier with their little plastic pool sitting on our kitchen floor and the tub of water placed in the middle of it (keeps the water contained!), a basket of something 'new' to them placed in the middle of the living room floor, etc. It takes little things to intrigue a toddler! Fun to discover what engages them the most...

Dawn @ Prickly Mom
Dawn @ Prickly Mom

I've been following your blog for years, and you always seem to have something to say to make me look on the bright side. I now have a preschooler and a kindergartener, but these tips are still golden. :)

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  2. […] When you’ve got a toddler in the house, you’re always busy and they will happily command ALL of your attention. However sometimes you’ve got other things to do – and you need your toddler to be busy so you can attempt to complete a task. Not only that, it’s healthy for kids to get a […]  […]

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