Kelly Flannigan Bos: The Relationship Rescuer


24 Clever Activities to Keep Busy Toddlers Happy

Safe Activities for Little Thrill Seekers

Our little toddlers are full of energy but lacking in reasonable and rational behaviour. They have such little experience with, well..., anything, understandably due to their short time on earth. This means little to no cause and effect knowledge, zero ability for wise and thoughtful risk calculations, yet all the while a propensity for thrill seeking and an unwavering interest in all things dangerous.

If there is a choke hazard on the ground, a knife anywhere near the counter edge, or hazardous spot to climb, they will find it. So you run around  putting out the fires with your hair dripping with shampoo, one leg shaved, and always a bit shell shocked. 

As a mom to a 14 month-old, I am often looking for ideas to entertain my little one and buy myself a moment to get something done. And so I ask around for others' experiences and found some for us all!


24 Toddler Time-buying activities


1. Basket of new toys or rarely seen ones
Keep a box of fresh toys only used when you need to shower.
2. Persnickety pomegranate
YMC's foodie Anne Radcliffe gives this a thumbs up for buying some time, in fact Anne even said "an hour of peace," so I have high hopes for this one. She suggests stripping them down and pulling out an old tarp. Frankly, toddlers should come with tarps. I think it would be good to see some of juicy red faced results so let us know how it goes.
3. Pot, wooden spoon... earplugs
Another from Anne, and I agree, don't mess with the classics.
4. Muffin tin and muffin liners
Our crafty Andrea Mulder-Slater gave this little activity to her little one and found they loved it. I assume this was discovered accidentally and probably when some older child needed something for the bake sale that morning and in the frantic chaos the 14 month old descended on the supplies with a quiet countenance that couldn't be ignored.
5. Build a tent for solo exploration
6. Cheerio string
I am cautious about putting things around my little ones neck so make sure your eyes are near your little one for this one but I have seen this snack necklace suggested for the grocery store or car trips which looks brilliant to me. 
7. Dishwasher water play
Our fearless editor Jeni Marinucci is also a fearless mom to a school-aged son and a teenaged daughter but back in the early years she found that opening the empty dishwasher, since the front already had a decent edge to catch water, made a great little water table while she tried to a get thing or two done in the kitchen.
8. Fresh laundry fun
Get a little “help" of the distracting kind. Jeni suggests leaving the basket unattended and watch the magic “unfold.”
9. The Tupperware drawer
Let 'em have it. It seems like such a disaster when they do it unexpectedly but if you know what you are in for you will find it really only takes a short time to clean up.
10. The Eye Spy toy
Although I am not terribly crafty I made this for my daughter. For a toddler the interest wanes much shorter than the time put into the making it but it does buy a minute or two and older kids can enjoy finding the items put inside.
11. Sensory bins with beans or rice and little toys
12. Or for the super brave... the sand table
Maybe better when they are out of the all things in the mouth stage. Andrea Mulder-Slate says sand really occupied her kids which she kept under control with a tarp. Of course there is kinetic sand now!
13. Shaving cream and highchair table art
14. Fake painting
YMC's resident sleep expert Alanna McGinn, and mother to three children including twins says a bowl of water and a dollar store paint brush with the child's chosen job of painting “the fence” worked wonders.
15. Keys
Get a janitor like volume going with the random keys in the junk drawer that don't seem to match a single lock in your household.
16. Egg rattles
Re-use your plastic Easter eggs.  Put rattle-able objects inside and glue the egg rattles shut. You can store them in a egg carton for the extra adorable factor. 
17. Play dough balloons
How cute is this? You can also use it as a stress ball for the days when no distractions are working.
18. Portable inch of water tub
Drag in a big rubbermaid or large bucket to your kitchen or bathroom, then add a little bit of water and let them play while you get stuff done, this one might not require two hands but definitely two eyes on them.
19. Light Table
A great way to explore objects in a captivating way. You can purchase one or make your own.
20. Interesting safe gadget box to peak your Toddler's interest
YMC's dietician Sarah Remmer says that she keeps a box of old brushes, makeup cases and containers to distract her twenty month old.
21. Baskets
A collection of these might allow you to pee or send an email.
22. Forbidden Fruit/ or the Coveted
Take a toy away for a bit or make it desirable. If my daughter plays with any of my toddlers toys he is instantly interested and enjoys the company.
23. Hide and Seek
Parenting Expert Andrea Nair says that it was hiding things and getting your toddler to find them that kept her kids distracted and gave her a minute or two here and there.

24. The big Empty Box
Endorsed here by other similarly wild creatures


Safe, simple ideas that give you a few minutes to yourself. Keep this list handy and use one, some, or ALL if the day is particularly challenging.

And please, share your tips and tricks. What are your go to's when needing your little one busy?