Whether you’re a working mum and you come home tired from a long day at the office, or a stay home mum who’s out of fresh ideas to keep your little ones entertained, here’s a list of ten things you could do this evening with your baby or toddler to get some good quality play and bonding time.
Many of us get a bit strapped for ideas sometimes, and we don’t want to be always buying more toys for our kids. This list is designed for you to use things that you’re likely to already have in your house.
Bubble play. Toddlers just love bubbles. Even if you don’t have a bubble blower, a tub filled with water and shampoo or dish soap is enough for lots of bubbly fun. No need to wait for bath time to bust out the bubbles!
Cooking with kids. Not sure why but a lot of mums always seem to think that this has to be baking. Absolutely not true. You could even make lime juice or lemonade with your toddler and they would think it’s fun and something different. Try it with honey if you’re not wanting to put in too much sugar.
Painting or finger painting. Don’t have paint? Make your own. If you’ve got some food colouring at home, mix it with a bit of water and off you go. Don’t forget your aprons or art smocks! Try printing some leaves on paper.
Easy play dough recipe. 2 cups of plain flour, 1 cup of salt, 1 tablespoon of oil, 1 cup of cold water, 2 drops of food colouring. Combine the flour and salt. Then add the water, oil and food colouring. Mix and knead well. Adjust the consistency of the dough by adding more flour or water. Lots of toddlers love using Duplo blocks to stamp out patterns in play dough.
Shadow play. An absolute favourite with kids. It keeps them entertained for ages! Might drain the battery on your torch or mobile phone though!
Mini treasure hunt. This does require a bit of set up on your behalf but it’s well worth it. If your child has a set of toys, say five Minions, hide them and ask your child to find them. The possibilities for this game are endless. Hide the toy food ingredients to make a burger. Hide pieces of jigsaw puzzles that they need to find before they can complete the puzzle. Hide number pieces before they can assemble 1-10.
Karaoke fail. Definitely a game for pre-schoolers who already know the words to nursery rhymes, and a good way to test their listening skills. Try singing something like “Baa baa black FISH, have you any wool?” or “Twinkle twinkle little MOON” and hear them roar with laughter and correct you, or make up funny versions of their own songs. This is a family favourite when we’re in the car.
Pillow fight. So much fun, and gets them really tired out. No more flat pillows, they’ll all be plumped up from all that vigorous pummelling.
Indoor bowling. Toddlers love to destroy things; don’t they all… So set up some toys and get him/her to roll a ball and whack them over. Variations include smashing toys with cars or trains.
Indoor camping. Love this one for a stormy night. You could roast some marshmallows over a candle or stove (be careful though!) and build some forts with tables, bed spreads and pillows.
Janice Zheng is a Melbourne-based writer and editor. Born and raised in Singapore, she has also lived in Vietnam, China and Australia. She has written and edited across a variety of genres including hard news, feature articles, technical and specifications writing and press releases. Her coverage of a 2009 Australian oil spill disaster and its impact on the marine environment earned her a nomination to the Professional Online Writers Guild. In 2013, her family moved to China for her husband’s work. She joined the expatriate women’s volunteer-based society and wrote prolifically for its print publications and contributed to other expatriate magazines. Since her return to Australia, Janice has turned to writing and blogging about parenthood.