Being a mommy of four children, ages 5, 3, 2, and 1, I was in need of some ideas of how to keep everyone busy while I cleaned. I heard that Kim Henry had some great ideas on how to accomplish this, along with some other ideas on how to keep the little ones busy during homeschooling time. I was so excited when she said that she would send me a post on all of these ideas. Today, I share these great tips and tricks with you. Enjoy! Thank you so much for your insight, Kim. This was so helpful.
Ways to Keep Toddlers Busy so that You can get Something Done
By: Kim Henry
When I was homeschooling my older kids I had to come up with a plan that would keep my younger kids busy so that I could have as much uninterrupted time with the older kids as possible. It was also nice to use these activities to get other things accomplished as well. Below, you will find what I did to keep my toddlers busy.
First, I labeled boxes with the days of the week with toys inside each. The kids were only allowed to play with the toys in the Monday box that day of the week and so forth. Because they were only allowed to play with their toys once a week, those toys held their attention longer. I spoke with one mom who had so many toys she was able to have a box for each day of the month.
Second, I let the toddlers wash dishes, dust, and sweep with the whisk broom. Toddlers enjoy doing chores. I rinsed the dishes really well so that the kids could get them clean with soapy water. They made a huge mess in the kitchen when they washed dishes so I gave them a cloth and had them dry the counter and the floor. I also had them fold clothes. I washed towels, dish cloths, socks, etc., everything that I didn’t care if it got wrinkled, in a separate load and had them fold those clothes. Yes, the chores don’t get done perfectly, but you can finish up each chore when the toddlers aren’t looking. On a crazy busy week, when I didn’t have time to finish up, I thought that something was better than nothing.
Third, you can make or purchase interactive felt books for your toddlers to play with. These books have felt pieces in a pocket that will adhere to a felt page. You can make any kind of book you’d like, zoo, vehicles, or pets, and your toddlers won’t be grading you on your artistic ability! You can also make or purchase a “sewing” card. The kids can draw on a card that you will have laminated. Punch holes around the border. Using a colorful shoe string the kids “sew” the border.
Forth, on nice days I also sent the kids outside to paint, play with play dough, or sidewalk chalk; That way there was no mess to clean up!
Fifth, before doing homeschool, I spent 5 minutes with each preschooler – Proverbs 27:5–“Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed.” The idea being that kids will try to get attention in any way that works for them. If you don’t show love then they will be sinful to receive attention. It seemed to work best when I didn’t announce that I was trying to spend some one on one with my toddler and just grabbed the kid and hid! We usually read books of their choice.
Sixth, I had the toddlers participate in school as much as possible. I did all the school songs, rhymes, and stories with the toddlers. Everything that you introduce to the toddlers will make it easier to teach later. Sometimes I just held the toddlers while we did school.
Seventh, one of the best things I did was to begin when the kids were babies to teach them to occupy themselves. I put them in an area that they weren’t allowed to leave using furniture as boundaries until I got a playpen, what we used before Pack-N-Plays were invented. I’m feeling kinda old right now! It took longer before I got the playpen because I had to teach them to stay in the play area, disciplining when they crawled out. I began by setting the timer for 15 minutes and gradually worked up to 1 hour. I gave them 3 toys explaining that if they threw the toys out of the area or the playpen then they would have nothing with which to play. This was met with crying but eventually they learned to entertain themselves.
I hope that this helps you as much as it did me.