Any number of reasons could be causing you to read this article right now. Maybe it’s a rainy day, or maybe you’ve got a baby sleeping and a preschooler to entertain. Or perhaps, like me, you’ve got a chronic illness that is making it really difficult to keep your kids happy and busy because you just can’t get out of bed. Whatever the reason you’re finding yourself needing ideas, there’s plenty to do! Here are five of my favourites.
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1. Floor Puzzles
Probably the greatest indoor entertainment of all is a good puzzle! Table top puzzles aren’t a big hit with my crew yet, because the pieces are too little and the end up all over the floor anyways. That’s why I love our floor puzzles! They’re big, easy to find and grab pieces that can be tailored to a variety of ages and abilities.
We received a hand-me-down floor puzzle of a giant T-Rex and that started the collection going in our house. It was an instant hit with my 4 year old, and now the 2 year old is starting to enjoy it as well (with help). Because it’s on the floor, I just grab a pillow to sit on and even on my crappiest day I can typically muster the energy to sit and put it together.
2. Wipe Clean activity books
My middle son is 4 years old and will be starting Kindergarten in the fall (wait, what? Man, time flies). This means we have to start brushing up on his writing skills along with some basic things like sight words and such. He didn’t go to preschool, so we do home learning for these things.
I recently bought a couple books from Amazon that I think fit perfectly into this article. These wipe-clean books use a dry erase marker and have laminated pages. The low-key nature of sitting down with a pen and book is just the ticket sometimes! It isn’t age appropriate for my two year old yet, but he’s getting there. This means that I typically choose this activity for Little when Littlest is napping.
3. Macaroni Crafts and Beading
It’s really easy to just tell people: do some crafts! But I want to be more specific. If I’m not feeling well, then I am certainly not up for a trip to the craft store or to scour the house for various uncommon craft supplies. For that reason, a macaroni necklace is definitely my go-to quiet craft. It needs two things: string and pasta. Both are within easy reach.
It is super easy to thread the pasta onto plastic craft lace (if you’re an uncoordinated toddler), or simply use knitting wool for the older ones. I have also pulled out some of dad’s shoe laces in a pinch, or they can even thread them onto spaghetti if you don’t have string.
If pasta necklaces and playing with your food isn’t your thing, there are some pretty great beading kits on the market, some of which are designed for young toddlers.
This Melissa & Doug beading set is easy to use, high quality material and very affordable (around $12 Cdn). It’s also Prime Eligible which is awesome. If you haven’t check out prime, here is why you should.
If your kids are older, or perhaps looking for something more intricate, there are some really great ones for good prices too. Check out this one which is also by Melissa & Doug: Flower Power Wooden Bead Set.
4. Bedroom Movie Theatre
If you’re really having a rough day, or the kids are exhausted from some rambunctious outdoor activity and yet they still refuse to nap- there is zero shame in getting a little screen time in. And this one is with a twist! I feel like sometimes we get bombarded with guilt-enducing warnings of watching too much TV or “lazy parenting” with screens. But the reality is, sometimes it is just the right thing for a certain situation.
I love to get tons of pillows and soft blankets, along with teddy bears of course, and dim the lights to have a movie theatre experience in my queen size bed. We like to choose a classic Disney movie (yesterday was The Great Mouse Detective- my little ons had never seen it before) and bust out some popcorn, water bottles and maybe even some twizzlers. Because life is too short to stress about screen time when you need a quiet, indoor activity.
5. Age-appropriate Board Games
It’s hard to get a toddler to sit through a board game, but if my preschooler is playing too- the little one tries his best. We recently sat on my bedroom floor and tried a few family classics.
Join the discussion
Do you have some simple, low-key ideas for entertaining toddlers and preschoolers? Share them with us in the comments! And please share this article with your friends and family, or in your favourite parenting group. I’d love to get as much feedback as possible from other caregivers out there- both regular groups and chronic illness groups.
Any additional resources for parenting with an illness is also greatly appreciated!