Entertain your toddler for hours with these 3 household items
We all know this scenario. Your toddler is fussy and clingy. Every time you put her down so you can make dinner she screams at the top of her lungs. The struggle is real. Everyone needs to eat, but how do you entertain your toddler with activities and keep him occupied for at least 30 minutes while you at least whip up some mac & cheese?
Honestly, there have been times when I just turn on the TV. Far too many times actually. It’s just so easy. But lately, even that isn’t enough to entertain my needy almost-two-year-old while I manage to cook or, heaven forbid, take a five-minute shower!
We are currently seven months pregnant with baby #2 and honestly, this has been a huge transition for our toddler. It’s like she knows something is coming. Something huge! Change is big, and it can be hard for anyone—let alone a little person. We have noticed that she is far more needy and clingy lately. It’s like she’s trying to eat up every last second of alone time with mom and dad before boss baby arrives.
On the one hand, I desperately want her to be more independent because I know that will come in handy once baby arrives. And, I’d rather she learns to play alone more now rather than later when there’s another screaming baby in the mix. Yet, another part of me wants to just soak up every last snuggle, hug, and yes even the times when I hold her while I cook because I know that things will be different with two.
During those times when I just can’t hold her and the TV just isn’t cutting it either, I have found a few things that work. Things that entertain my daughter for 15+ minutes! Hallelujah! And, the great news is that these are things found around the house and take seconds to put together (because we all know that time is precious). So, here are a few ideas to entertain your toddler for hours from these 3 simple household items.
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1) Card slot drop
I go through grits like crazy. In case you’re not from the South and have no idea what grits are, they are a hot breakfast food, kind of like porridge. I eat them nearly every day for breakfast. One day after finishing yet another container of grits, I asked myself “how could I repurpose this container?” I often ask myself that question when throwing things away, but most of the time I honestly can’t think of something unless I’m on Pinterest.
But on that day, Zoey had been playing with her UNO kids deck of cards. At this age, “playing” UNO means throwing the entire deck all over the living room floor yelling “mess!” and then proceeding to pick them up and do it all over again.
So, I tried cutting a slot in the grits container for her to drop the cards into. Can you believe that it worked?! She kept putting the cards in the container and then dumping them out and doing it again for at least a good 15 minutes while I cooked.
If you aren’t like me and don’t eat grits, you could always use an oatmeal container or a plastic jar of some sort. And, if you don’t have an extra deck of cards lying around that you don’t mind losing (because we all know they’re going to disappear somewhere), then you can always use old credit cards or those fake credit cards that come in the mail with offers.
I love watching her creativity with these activities. She went from dropping the cards through the slot to stacking them in her hands. The great thing about these activities, as opposed to store-bought kids toys, is these activities encourage imagination and creativity. There is more that you can do with these activities.
Related: The Kind of Mom I Want to Be
2) Pom pom drop
My daughter loves pom poms. I have no idea what it is about those things, but she could play with them for hours and there are a ton of activities and crafts that we do with them. She loves pointing out the different colors and trying to pick them up with tweezers. Honestly, whoever invented pom poms was a godsend to parents everywhere.
This activity is similar to the playing card slot drop, only you use pom poms and an empty (and cleaned) cottage cheese or sour cream container. I just cut a square in the lid large enough for the pom poms to go through and voila! Instant toddler entertainment.
3) Q-tip insert
Who knew that q-tips of all things would be a great “toy” for a kid? Sometimes it seems like the best “toys” are the ones laying around the house, not bought in a store.
One evening while cooking, I emptied a jar of spices. The plastic jar looked too perfect to upcycle with the holes in the lid. I just had to think of something before I threw it away. My daughter was playing on the counter, so I handed the plastic jar to her with a handful of q-tips. Behold, she played with those for the remainder of meal prep time! She kept meticulously putting the q-tips in the holes and then would ask me to empty them once she went through them all. And repeat. This activity has remained a go-to for entertaining during cooking.
A bonus about all of these activities is that they’re great for developing fine motor skills. Entertain your toddler, and help them develop fine motor skills at the same time. It’s a win-win.
So, what household items have you used that worked to entertain your toddler while you cook? Let us know in the comments what activities worked for you. We’re always looking for ideas!