Toddlers are busy little people and if you don’t come up with things for toddlers to do, they will find something to do.
Something that they probably aren’t supposed to be doing. You know, like digging in the garbage can, dumping out all of the clothes you just folded….
But the truth is you can’t plan your whole day around your toddler. It’s impossible to entertain him while you have other things to get done too!
When I looked for ideas on Pinterest, many of them were projects that took A LOT of supplies and preparation.
Frankly, I don’t have time for that every single day.
Instead, I’ve found that I can make the simple, every day moments count.
The following are 9 things to do at home with a toddler. We do these things almost every week day while my husband is at work.
9 Things to Do with Toddlers:
1. Toddlers can help with chores.
Of course, my toddler isn’t actually cleaning, but he loves to be my helper and is usually right beside me while I work. One of the first things my son does every morning is he pushes our laundry hamper from the bedroom to the laundry room as part of our morning routine.
If I forget about the laundry, he remembers!
While I sort and throw in a load of laundry, he keeps himself busy by investigating everything in the laundry room until I’m done. The soaps and other possible dangers are out of reach. 🙂
If I am sweeping, he likes to push his “broom” which is just the Swiffer Sweeper without a cloth on it. When I dust, he carries a clean rag and wipes it on the walls and floor.
He does do his own toddler chores too!
2. Read together.
I didn’t used to follow a specific reading schedule. We would just read at random times during the day. But I’ve found that when I am more intentional about reading, we read a lot more often.
Specifically, we read a book
- at breakfast
- before afternoon nap
- before bedtime.
His favorite book right now is Brown Bear, Brown Bear* by Eric Carle. We read it every. single. day.
We love the library! And often try out new books there without having to buy new ones.
Going to the library reading group is a weekly activity for us.
Another way to keep toddlers excited about books is to rotate their books every few days. When I pull out a book that has been put up for a while, my son gets so excited to have a “new” book.
3. Have your toddler join you for walks or exercise.
One of my favorite ways to stay healthy is walking, and it is the perfect form of exercise as a mom. I buckle my son up in his stroller and away we go!
I love starting my day with exercise and being outdoors, and my little toddler enjoys going for the ride and seeing all of the dogs, squirrels, and cars in our neighborhood.
Another option when the weather isn’t great is to go to an indoor mall and walk around.
If you can’t get out of the house at all, turn on a walking video on YouTube. Your toddler can “exercise” with you! Most likely he will enjoy doing the movements too. 🙂
4. Eat meals together.
When my son was a baby, I would often use breakfast and lunch to catch up on social media.
But now that he is a toddler, I don’t pull out electronic devices. Instead, we eat at the table together.
As I mentioned earlier, we read a book at breakfast, and at lunch he loves to talk to me while we eat. Our conversations are usually about the food we are eating, the color, where it came from, how many are on our plates, ect.
Really exciting stuff! 😉
By the way if you are looking for ideas to feed your little one, check out this Simple Food Ideas for 1 Year Old. It’s super helpful and full of food ideas that are perfect for toddlers!
5. Play outside or go to an indoor playground.
If we don’t have anywhere to go, we often play in the backyard in the mornings. Then we go outside again after lunch and again in the evenings after I clean up from supper.
My son is so used to this routine that he will bring me my shoes and his shoes after I finish cleaning up the kitchen so that we can go outside!
While outside he plays on his Little Tikes castle slide* that is the perfect size for toddlers. Other times we will collect sticks and leaves in the yard, chase each other, and swing.
Sometimes I even get a little weeding done while he plays, although I do keep my eye on him at all times, so I don’t get a lot of weeding done at once. But that is okay!
Some days we will meet a friend at the park.
When the weather is bad, we like to go to indoor play areas. The mall playground and children’s section at the library are great places to take toddlers.
And occasionally, we will splurge and got to a Chick-Fil-A playground!
6. Sit on the floor and play together with your toddler.
Last January, I made the decision to get on the floor every day and play with my son. He loves the personal attention. We usually play with his Mega Bloks*, wooden blocks, or his cars.
When my daughter was a toddler she loved playing with her Minnie Mouse tea set.
During this time I put my phone in the other room so that I’m not tempted to check it and start scrolling, and my toddler gets my undivided attention which is SO important.
At first I felt like I didn’t know how to play nor liked to play with him.
But I have found that the more I play, the easier it has become.
Instead of thinking about how much I don’t like to build towers or line up cars, I changed my thinking and attitude.
I try to be positive and laugh with him as much as possible. We talk about sharing and taking turns. We count and point out colors on the cars.
Part of the reason I didn’t like playing with him was I felt like I had to spend a long amount of time with him, and I would watch the clock. I thought had to spend X amount of minutes playing with him, but the truth is that he doesn’t care how long.
He just wants to know I will play with him.
Now instead of watching the clock, I will build a tower or line up cars with him and then tell him I need to go do something else. He can either keep playing or come with me.
7. Watch a little TV.
Yes, I said it! My toddler watches television.
By the afternoon, we both need a little break, so I let him watch 15-30 minutes of television while we eat a snack. His current favorites are Fireman Sam, Daniel Tiger, Caillou, and Mister Rogers Neighborhood on Amazon Prime*.
Of course, I wouldn’t put my son in front of a television all day long, but we have chosen to let him watch a little TV each day, and I don’t feel guilty about it anymore like I used to.
I wrote another post with practical tips to set limits on kid’s TV time.
8. Listen to music, sing, and dance.
My husband has always been a huge music fan and has several friends who are in Southern Gospel groups. This means that there is almost always music being played in our home and thankfully our kids enjoy it!
It’s easy to pull up kids’ songs on iTunes or even YouTube.
We sing a song or listen to music:
- before nap
- at bedtime
- while I’m cooking supper
- riding in the car
- while coloring or playing with play-do
9. Count and Say Letters
Toddlers all develop at their own rate, but they will start to recognizing numbers and letters at this age. I will say the names of letters or numbers in books and on signs and he will often repeat me.
I incorporate counting and letters into our everyday activities.
We count toys when we are playing or sticks that we pick up when we are outside. I also spell words to him and he has fun repeating the letters as if it were a game!
I didn’t teach specific lessons with him until he was 4. Instead we read a lot of the Little People Flap Books to introduce numbers, colors, and shapes.
Both of my kids LOVE those books!
These daily activities are simple things to do with toddlers that require little-to-no-preparation, but they all add up to quality time!
One of my favorite times with my toddler is right before we put him to bed because we read, sing, and talk and there is no rush. He also has my undivided attention and he loves that!
Being intentional with the time that you have with your toddler at home can make ALL the difference in your relationship with him or her.
Instead of rushing around or just getting through every day activities like meals and chores, slow down and make the moments count!
Life can get pretty crazy as a mom to a toddler. That’s why I created the FREE Balanced Mom checklist. It will help you care for your home and yourself!