I have two toddler girls and they couldn’t be more different in personalities. One could easily sit and play with a toy for an hour. Problem is, her sister always wants THAT toy — she’s a grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side kind of girl.
Argument ensues; Mama intervenes, and it’s never easy to transition back into quiet-play mode.
But, there are a few activities they both love to do — together. These are the few moments when I have time to cook a meal or wash dishes. I’ve long forgotten what it feels like to want to steal a second for myself (unless it’s to go to the bathroom when I tip-toe up the stairs as lightly as possible hoping for a quiet minute or two).
No, I use those precious, playing nicely together moments to be productive.
Here’s those win-win, lay-low activities:
Cleaning: Wet wash cloths for everyone. Go clean your toys, wash the walls and doors, or the windows. Whatever, but go to it! Works like a charm every single time. My girls have been “cleaning” since they could walk. And, when they show up in the kitchen cleaning their faces, what are you going to do? Just laugh. You can also give them one or two wipes. On the outside of the house, give them a cloth and a spray bottle filled with water. (Actually, just spray bottles works for us outside).
Fuzzy balls and a box: These are the safest toys in the house and they also happen to be pretty darn fun. We use a Skechers box that has weird holes in the sides — perfect enough to fit fuzzy balls of all sizes, craft clothespins and pipe cleaners.
Brightly colored decorations: Anything from Mardi Gras beads to snowflakes that hang from the ceiling have always proven to keep my girls entertained for great periods of time. Even now that those great periods of time are so slim.
Books: Bring out some books they like to flip through. Even magazines. Something you don’t mind getting torn up. Stick them in the corner of the kitchen and let them go to it. As they get older, offer up stickers to put on the pages. (You definitely have to make sure you have read a bunch before this or else they will want you to read to them).
Dishwasher fun: I haven’t done this in a long time, but when they were younger I used to put small amounts of water, soap and food coloring on the door — when it was down — and let them splash around while I did dishes. To clean up, I just moved them up to the sink to help finish up the dishes and later ran the full washer to clean up that mess.
Animals and place mats: If you can find place mats (or anything indestructible and easy to move around — with animals on them, and then find matching small animals you will love this activity before any meal — or anytime. Just bring out the animals and stick them on the table — divide them evenly, if possible. Ask them to match the animals to the ones on the mat. Soon, they’ll have their own game of just putting the animals all over. When that starts to get boring, ask them to see where they can put the animals — like on a windowsill or on a shelf. That should easily give you a little more time.
How about you? What’s your go-to to try and get a minute or two to yourself? For more activity ideas, check out the new The SavvySource.