Taking care of a toddler requires a lot of creativity. They get bored, then you get bored, and it seems like there’s nothing to do unless you spend money! L is not into crafts, so that is out of the question (I would definitely have more fun than him!). Here are seven things to do when you are out of ideas. We try not to do them frequently so that they are more of a treat.
1. Go to the Library
I LOVE our local libraries. There are several branches we can go to that use our same card. Not only can we get different books to read, but we can also use the children’s area to play in. Most libraries have a children’s section, and if you are lucky they will have some fun things to play with! Some libraries also have story time or different events throughout the year. L loved the puppet show our library did a few months ago!
2. Make Bubbles!
I bought some cheap bubbles, but that’s exactly what they were…cheap. About 20% of the time I blew into the wand, bubbles would come out…and then burst immediately. It just wasn’t working out. I did some Googling and realized I could make my own bubbles (there are tons of “recipes” based on what you have on hand)! I emptied the old container and filled it with this: 1 c. water, 4 T. dish soap, and 1 T. corn syrup. Voila! Bubbles that actually work! They are always a hit around here.
3. Find a Park
We have been to so many parks this summer! I should be a Google “local guide” or something because it feels like I have been to every park within a 15 mile radius of our apartment. It seems like such a typical thing to go to the park, but if you are willing to drive a little bit further, you can find some hidden gems in your area!
4. Visit a Pet Store
Before we got our zoo membership, sometimes I would stop at the pet store when we were out running errands. It’s sort of like a free zoo, right? …just a lot less animals! Usually there are at least a couple different animals out like hamsters or lizards, and there are always fish! Our grocery store also has fish, so we usually swing by them as part of our rounds. There is something mesmerizing about watching the fish. Just don’t go during feeding time…the workers don’t seem to like that!
5. Make Musical Instruments
Toddlers love noisy things, and mamas love free things–it’s a win-win! Some examples of instruments we have made include: half-and-half carton shaker (filled with dry pasta), rubber band/box guitar, canister drums, and water jug shaker. If you have some real instruments, bonus points! We got L a dollar store recorder, and he loves it almost as much as daddy 😉 Andrew and I play piano, and I play flute, so sometimes we have a full family band! Just make sure you are supervising when playing with these kinds of toys, because they can be easily taken apart by tiny fingers…
6. Pretend Play
Warning: this might require you to get creative. Kids can make up plenty of stuff on their own, but it’s much more fun when you are engaged with them. We like to play with non-toy props, and it usually ends up being much more entertaining than any toy. Here are some ideas so you can see what I mean:
- Make a “house” from an old cardboard box
- Empty a box or toy bin and use as a car/rollercoaster/etc. (this one is tiring!)
- Get some of your real kitchen gadgets out and create a feast
7. Local Events
Check your town’s website for a list of free events! There are usually festivals and concerts going on, especially during the summer months. We haven’t been to too many concerts since they are later at night, but on the weekends there are more things during the day.
What kinds of things do you do to keep your toddler entertained? Are there any other free things I forgot?