I got a lot of feedback the other day that people wanted ideas for indoor play for toddlers. I totally get why! Maybe you're trapped inside because of the weather, or you can't leave because you don't have a car, or you or the kids are sick, or you're potty training - I've been there for all of it and none of it is fun. It can drive an entire household of sane people CRAZY. Inside days can be especially hard if you have a small place. Jason and I have only ever lived in apartments, and are currently in a small two bedroom place that is fully furnished, so nothing is even ours. There isn't a playroom, it isn't open concept, and we don't have a yard. You definitely don't need a huge house with a million toys and rooms to keep a toddler entertained (although I'm sure it's easier). Everly also isn't a "lets cuddle on the couch for hours and do nothing kind of kid"or a "be content with one toy kind of kid". I WISH she was - hint hint Rosie. These activities therefore arose out of necessity.
I would also like to point out that none of these activities require a lot of money. You probably have a lot of this around your house already, and if you don't just run to the dollar store because it's filled with toys you won't care if you're toddler destroys (aka cheap crap). Also, each of these activities could last for 15 seconds (very likely) or up to 15 minutes if you've somehow won the parenting lottery.
If you want to have these ideas on hand, head to my Pinterest page and pin this post so that you can come back to it again. Also, forward it on to your other mom friends because we gotta help each other out! The key to all of these is doing them with your toddler. I could put all of these things in front of Everly and she would want nothing to do with them. It isn't until I get down at her level and show her how that she really gets into it. Below are a few activities we do to keep busy, and often do each activity more than once throughout the day.
Yes, this can get messy, but as long as you do it in a controlled environment the clean up is not that bad. The first step is taking your child's clothes off, or putting on some sort of paint bib. If they're anything like Everly the paint will be everywhere by the time they're done. Then I either lay out a vinyl tablecloth on the table or the floor and let her paint all over it or put construction paper down that she can paint on. Or another option that makes clean up super easy is just putting her in the bathtub with the paints and letting her paint all over the tub (and usually herself) and then when she's done I just rinse her off.
Felt Ball Toss
This is good for their hand eye coordination but is also hilarious to watch. Everly has loved to learn to throw things and using felt balls makes sure no one and no thing gets hurt. I either set up a bowl or a basket and then I throw one in and then she does. If we miss we laugh hysterically and if we get it in we cheer. I also tape construction paper into cylinders and tape them to the wall so she can drop them through.
Everly doesn't love coloring, but it's another activity to kill a few minutes. We have washable markers and we'll usually start in a coloring book and then when that gets boring we'll color a cardboard box or anything else that is going to be thrown out and can be destroyed. Half the fun of coloring is taking the lids on and off.
Playdough Color Sorting
I have noticed that Ev isn't too bright with her colors, so I thought doing this little activity with playdough would help. I take all of her playdough colors and make small little balls, then I put them all over the table and line up all of the playdough containers. Then I see how many of the little balls and can get into the right colored container. Then once she gets sick of that activity we just get a bunch of different containers and pour the balls from one to the other. She loves transferring things from one container to another.
Everly loves the water but sometimes we need to mix it up from the bath. I discovered putting her in the sink with a bunch of different kitchen tools (not knives obviously) can provide hours of fun, seriously one day she stayed in for an hour. I just fill the bottom of the sink with enough water to keep her warm and then she fills cups, stirs things, empties little bottles, etc.
If I don't want to go through the hassle of getting her undressed and putting her in the sink, I just fill two of her little toy cups with a bit of water and she pours it from one to the other in her little kitchen.
It's no secret that I love being in the kitchen. Everly is now at an age where she can help me with recipes and I love it! It gives us an activity to do together that she loves, plus it's productive. It is definitely messier and takes longer with Everly helping, but it's so worth it. I love teaching her about food and hopefully this will give her a love of cooking and baking in the future! Some of our favorite things to make are hummus, blueberry muffins and cookies. Obviously the best part is the taste testing when we're done!
Everly has loved playing in her crib lately, so I started hanging blankets over the top to make little forts. She thinks it's so fun peeking around the blankets and hiding under them. You could do forts anywhere in your house with blankets, pillows, couches, tables and chairs! It does make a bit of a mess but kids love it!
Hide and Seek
Someone actually suggested this one to me and it's so smart! I can't wait to try this with Everly. You can either play hide and seek with each other, or hide some of their stuffed animals around the house and then have them go look for them (this would be perfect if you need to get something done and need them to keep running off lol).
Toys & Books
These are obvious and self explanatory. We spend a lot of time reading (the same) books over and over again throughout the day. I get her to tell me what's on the pages and to make animal noises to make the books really interactive for her. Her favorite toy is her kitchen, and we make snacks together, put things in the oven and microwave and taste all the food. Again, I've got to be in their with her cooking for her to really engage and for this to last longer than 2 minutes.
iPad and TV
This is a last resort for us, as we don't love putting Everly in front of tv or an ipad. If I do give her the ipad she uses this app called Kidloland. It's an educational app and teaches her so much. I will do a review on it soon! As far as tv goes, I have tried turning on shows for her on Netflix and she is just not interested. She'll watch for about 30 seconds and walk away. Some days I wish she liked tv more, but I guess that's my own fault.
That's all we've come up with so far. Send me a message or leave a comment on my Instagram post to let me know what activities keep you busy when you're stuck inside. I would love more ideas to add to the repertoire!