As if being a parent doesn’t come with enough pressure to be the “perfect” mom as it is, throw a pandemic into the mix and that pressure is now through the roof. The same roof of your house that you can not leave and has now become your office, gym, school, restaurant and playground.
Although doing activities with your little one is not something to do only during a pandemic, there seems to be more pressure to do them now. Also, the days can be long so incorporating a little activity for the kids can be something to look forward to and help pass the time while being somewhat educational.
I’ll keep it real, I’m not ashamed to admit I’m a “lazy mom” when it comes to activities. First of all, my baby is barely a year old, so it’s not like I can sit him down with some crayons and let him have at it. He’s not quite old enough yet to do arts and crafts or make me macaroni necklace, so we’re kind of in that in-between stage where he’s not a baby but not quite a full-on toddler either. But, I do like to find things to do with him that he will enjoy, don’t break the bank, may teach him a thing or two and most importantly, not make a huge mess.
So, I thought I’d share three simple activities for toddlers that are simple, inexpensive and not incredibly messy.
1. LAZY MOM’S WATER TABLE
This can also be dubbed the poor mom’s water table, but whatever you want to call it, it’s a fan favorite in this house! We live in New England, so it’s still too cold to play outside, so having a full on water table (like this) in my living room doesn’t seem like an option right now. However, one inch of water in a plastic tub did the trick just fine and kept my one-year-old entertained for a solid 25 minutes. (Anyone with a toddler knows that’s a pretty good stretch).
What you’ll need:
- A plastic tub, bowl, or anything that can old some water in it. We actually used the plastic tub from the hospital!
- Some household items or toys. I chose a whisk, a small bucket toy with holes that drain out, a measuring cup and a foam bath toy! Some items that sink and some that float keep it interesting.
- Warm water
- Optional, bubble bath or soap to add bubbles
Lay down the towel, fill the tub, strip them down and let them have at it! The floors will get wet, but hey, it becomes a 2-for-1 because the floors get a washing too!
2. TOILET PAPER ROLL SHOOT
Especially because toilet paper is such a prized item these days, why not let that empty roll get the proper send off before it make’s its way to the recycling bin like the hero it was. We’ve done this one a few times and sometimes Emmett cooperates and plays and sometimes he just plays with the tape, either way it occupies him for a little and it’s something different than his toy shelf.
What you’ll need:
- Toilet paper or paper towel rolls, or a few of each!
- Painters tape, or tape that won’t damage walls
- Cotton ball, craft pom poms or even Cheerio’s or puffs if your little one tries to eat the cotton ball!
Tape the roll to the wall, show them how to put the ball through the toilet paper roll and let them have at it! I like to roll up a few pieces of the tape and stick that to the wall too. He loves to play with the sticky, crinkly tape balls too!
Don’t get frustrated if your little one gets more excited to rip the roll off the wall and run around with it, or to play with the roll of tape. Let them explore and be grateful you didn’t spent too much money, time or mess on this one!
3. BABY VAN GOGH MESS-FREE FINGER PAINTING
I will say this one was the least successful as far as keeping him busy for an extended period of time, but it’s still cute and he liked it for a few minutes. Plus, it’s easy and mess-free so I still consider it worth sharing! I think next time I will tape it to his high chair tray so he can’t run away! But we’ve done this twice and Em has played around with it both times.
What you’ll need:
- Paint. I used a some old acrylic paint I had laying around.
- Cardstock or photo paper. Regular paper ends up getting really wet.
- Two zip top bags (You could always use Saran Wrap too and saran wrap it down to the table, floor or highchair)
- Tape to secure
Put a few generous dollops of paint on the paper and slide into a zip-top bag. Then slide that bag into another bag. Trust me, the first time I did it with one bag and it ripped almost immediately. Then tape the bags down to the floor or their high chair and let them have at it!
As I mentioned, I think next time I will tape it to his high chair to keep his attention longer, but he did move the paint around so I don’t think it was a total loss. Plus, you can leave it there for him to come back to later, the paint won’t dry up right away inside the bag.
So no hard feelings if he runs away from it for a little while!
I can’t take credit for any of these because I found them on the internet somewhere, but I wanted to share my experience making easy, cheap and mess-free little ones in hopes to inspire you to do the same!