It’s going to be 104 degrees in Chicago today. Anxiety starts to set in when I think about what I’m going to do ALL DAY with two very young kids. Elise is 2 1/2 and Tristan is 11 months. I refuse to leave the house with them. I’ve bolded below our hot summer “in house” activities.
Our morning routine is the same — milk for all, breakfast, playing with toys in the living room.
Tristan goes down for his morning nap. I hand Elise a disabled iPhone to look through photos. I hate doing this but I know it will keep her attention for 20 minutes while I water the plants, vacuum the basement, fold two loads of laundry and do the breakfast dishes. I think the key to TV, movies or “iProducts” is a time limit. I give Elise a 5 minute and 1 minute warning before we move on to the next activity. I also vow to not give her the phone the rest of the day, and I put that phone and mine on top of the refrigerator.
Up next is finger painting. We use this Crayola product and we love it — it truly is mess free. It keeps her attention for 15 minutes.
When she’s done I ask her to wash her hands. I swear, the key to killing time is asking a toddler to perform a task on her own. I also ask her to pick out her and her brother’s outfits from the laundry I just folded. This kills another 15 minutes. She unfolds everything in the basket and we talk about each piece of clothing but it’s worth it and it’s FREE.
Tristan is awake and we invite friends over. Fresh blood in the house — this works! After snacks we head down to the basement where our playroom is. We play with our guests for about an hour.
Naptime for both kids. I rotate toys. This works, friends. Every two to three months I put away every single toy in the playroom (only 10-12 toys) and take out 10-12 new toys from the closet. A few tips: LESS IS MORE. Kids don’t need 100 toys. They tend to get overwhelmed. NEW IS GOOD. They forget about the toys that I’ve hidden in the closet so they feel “new” to them. If you don’t have a playroom or if you’re bored with your current playroom, change it up by moving a few toys into a bedroom or the kitchen. Just the change in environment will stimulate their senses.
Tristan wakes up first (of course) and he’s entertained with music and books. He also doesn’t mind playing by himself with tupperware from the kitchen whereas Elise almost always requires your attention/interaction while playing.
So now Elise is up and this is the DREADED 4-6 pm hour. She discovers “new” toys in the playroom and that keeps her occupied for 45 minutes. When she starts to get restless I strip them both down to their diapers and we eat popsicles on the shaded back porch. They are both a mess so we take an early bath. We call this “play bath” — no washing. They can splash as much as they want and I blow bubbles for them in the bathroom. I take the toys from the kiddie pool in the backyard and put them in their bath.
Before I know it, it’s time for dinner, another (but very quick) bath and bed. I’ve survived another day.
So, how do you occupy your kids when you’re stuck inside all day? Would you mind leaving some suggestions in the comments?
Here are suggestions from a few Twitter friends:
Jen said to build a fort with a card table and a sheet. (love it!)
Lisa had awesome ideas — homemade playdough or bake a cake outside your window in the heat!
Kristi had a classic one — jello shapes!
Janel said to play with shaving cream in pots and pans….another awesome idea.