As much as we love what we do as stay-at-home mums, it’s nice to have a little time to ourselves during the day to drink a cup of tea, catch up on some reading or just cook dinner in peace, while not relying too much on television.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve bought new toys thinking you will get some quiet time. If only it worked that way! On the other hand, the following free or inexpensive activities will keep your toddler happily playing independently while you relax.
Kids think it’s the best fun to take the washing off the clothes horse, sort it and put it away in the drawers. With chores, not only can you put your feet up while your toddler sorts the washing, there’s the added bonus of one less job to do later on.
2. Water play
A $2 spray bottle, a cheap paint brush, an empty ice cream container or bucket and an empty jug are all you need for hours of fun. For variety, throw in some kitchen items like a funnel, measuring cups and a whisk. On wet or cold days, a towel on the kitchen floor and a tub of mildly soapy, warm water is a relatively mess-free way to enjoy water play. The spray bottle can be used in the bathroom where water on the walls doesn’t matter.
3. Gluing and Colouring
To create a collage, you will need some coloured junk mail or old wrapping paper, torn into pieces, some cardboard and a glue stick (mess-free) or homemade glue (which is non-toxic, in case it ends up in mouths). To make it even more personal, get the kids to colour some scrap or butchers paper, or even print out some free colouring-in printables online, and glue them to their collage.
4. Household items
Cooking is a favourite family pastime at any age, and playing pretend goes hand in hand when you want to avoid a mess in the kitchen. A cardboard box turned on its side serves as a stove top and oven while pots, pans, muffin tins and utensils from the kitchen round out the pretend play experience.
5. The usual suspects
Finally, homemade playdough and finger paint are both frugal activities that kids find engaging. While these activities may need a little more supervision, they’re still a great way for you to sit back with a cup of tea while your toddler gets creative.
You don’t need to spend a lot of money on the latest flashy toys to keep your toddler amused. In fact, it’s often better for your child’s imagination, as well as your budget, if you don’t. These activities are inexpensive, easy to set up and clean away and provide plenty of entertainment while you take a well deserved break.