As a mom of two kids, I know parenting isn’t easy. Especially when they are toddlers 👧👦, they are a handful, and it’s normal to get stressed. So, in this article, I have something that might help you out with this problem.
If you are a work-from-home mom, or you have household chores to finish, or, in fact, you just need a break 😌 from always being ‘on’ your little ones to slay, I bring to you some very effective, fun, and engaging activities you can get them to participate in. They remain entertained, and you get to catch a break, too.
Let us first look at the three most important factors you must keep in mind before choosing an activity to keep your toddler busy:
Can function independently
Does the activity require parental involvement? Would you have to supervise 👀 the kids? If you want some ‘me time,’ you must choose activities that your little ones can do by themselves without any risk or hassle, providing you with the time to take a break or get a chore done.
Engages the kids completely
Will your little ones be truly busy doing the activity? Or are they going to lose interest after a little while? You must go for activities that promise sustained interest and an eagerness 🤩 to learn and do nothing new, fun, and creative. Therefore, open-ended activities would be the best choice.
Reason of boredom
Even a fun activity may not work if your child tends to get bored easily or has a problem staying focused on one thing.
So, before choosing an activity, do a quick check ✔️ of any factors that might be possible roadblocks to your child’s interest in pursuing a hobby or their concentration and creativity.
The Best 50 Activities for Busy Toddlers👧🧒
Most of these fun activities are educational as well. So, that’s a bonus. So, rather than letting them waste time in video games or roaming around, here is a list of busy toddler 👶 activities you can try out!
Busting out the slime/playdough
You can buy slime from the store or make play dough at home. That’s it. That’s all you need to keep your little ones busy for some time. Slippery objects are fun, and there are no risks of them getting hurt.
Solving a jigsaw puzzle
My kids love solving puzzles 🧩. We have so many different kinds of puzzles at home. My kid loves cartoon puzzles. There are a lot of colors, and they get to pick their favorite characters. I remember Snoopy being my favorite!
Playing a board/card game
Some days, when my boys aren’t getting along, I make them sit together so that we can play board games ♟️ together. I love playing UNO, and I taught them as well. These indoor games are fun and brain-racking for everyone.
Listening to a podcast
In case you don’t know, there are plenty of online podcasts for kids. I often put on a nice one about books or short stories for my kids to listen 🎧 to while they are having lunch or are done studying.
Some of my top recommendations would be Book Club for Kids and Stuff You Should Know.
Building a fort
Well, you know kids and their fascination with a fort? My boys often use sheets, curtains, blankets, and rugs to make a cozy fort 🏰. It’s a bonus if they have siblings. They can all play together without creating a nuisance.
Doing an art project
If you want to keep your kids engaged and improve their creative skills, you can assign them a simple art 🖼️ project like making cards and bracelets or filling up a scrapbook. This will help you if they are passionate about art.
Playing with paper dolls
Yes! Even boys can play with dolls 🪆. I make these handmade paper dolls that they pretend to dress up, feed, bathe, and put to sleep. If your child loves crafts, you can ask them to make their own dolls, too.
Doing a science experiment
You can buy a book of science 🧪 experiments for kids to do at home. There are plenty of activities that include very simple ingredients that you can easily provide them with. This is fun to do and educational as well.
Cooking something delicious
I’ve always encouraged my kids to experiment in the kitchen. Even if they are young, find simple recipes 🥘 from your cookbook that they can try their hands at. Encourage them to make their best effort and appreciate what they prepare.
Playing with boxes
If you are out of breath trying to control your kids, just give them some empty cardboard boxes 📦. Toddlers enjoy playing with random stuff, and they can either jump in or make a mini fort. Let them use their imagination.
Inventing a board game
This is a great idea to keep your kids busy for a long time. Just give them a blank DIY board game 🎲 kit and ask them to design it and create a new board game. This improves their creative mind.
You can buy the Apostrophe Games Blank Game Board from Amazon. It’s the best!
Playing hide and seek
If you have two kids like I do, the best way to keep them busy is to ask them to play hide-and-seek 👀. They can do it for hours and not get bored. If you are free, you can also play!
If your kid is interested in photography 📷, try giving them a camera/phone and ask them to take pictures. This might be an excellent passion they would want to pursue later. You get to see the world through their eyes.
As a parent, you should introduce your kids to art 🎨. It not only broadens their vision and imagination but also helps them grow an empathetic heart. Let them feel free to do what they want- painting, sculpting, or rock art!
Working with LEGOS
My kids love LEGOs. You can get a handbook that guides kids through LEGO creations. Let them choose something they want to make, and then leave them to work and enjoy a warm cup of coffee and some alone time.
I don’t get to do this a lot because my boys keep wearing these black t-shirts. But you can dress 👕👖 your little ones in different costumes and do a photoshoot. You might have a diva or supermodel in the household!
Teach your kids to do nice things for others from a very young age. For example, baking cookies to welcome the new neighbors. This not only keeps them engaged but also lets them understand the importance of empathy 🥰 and compassion.
Encourage your kids to read books to other children, be it their sibling or a friend.
Designing a postcard
Get blank postcards 📮 and ask your little ones to design them. You can send these with gifts to your family or use them during the holidays. They can use crayons and pencils to turn these white pages into beautiful artwork.
Collect rocks from the street or your backyard and use watercolor to paint 🎨 them. The dull rocks can easily turn into beautiful pieces of art. Ask your kids to leave them out so that you can easily decorate your house.
Doing a treasure hunt
Just hide some candy or toys in a corner of the house and come up with a map 🗺️. Ask your kids to complete the treasure hunt 🕵️♀️ to find the surprise. This will make them think hard to reach their gifts!
Going for a long walk
The best way to keep your kids engaged outdoors is to take a nice walk 🚶🏽♀️🚶🏽. You can go to a nearby park or even take them along to do grocery shopping. It’s also a great way to get some exercise.
One of my most vivid childhood memories is that of my brother playing catch ⚾️ with Dad. I often ask my husband to take the kids out and throw a ball or a frisbee around. It’s a good father-child bonding activity.
Having a picnic
You can simply pack a lunch, grab a blanket, and go to a nearby park with your kids. It would be a mini picnic 🧺 where you can spend quality time with your family and also enjoy the beauty of nature.
Give them something they don’t usually have, like candies or a juice box.
Making sidewalk art
Give your kids some sidewalk chalk or glitter chalk, and let them make art 🖼️ with the best of their imagination. They can look online for chalk art projects as well. Also, there are plenty of fun chalk games available for the little ones.
Making an obstacle course
If you have two kids, this is the best activity to help them develop a sportsman spirit. Make an obstacle course 🚩 and turn it into a competition. Also, you can run through it together if you want to join them!
Making a bird feeder
To promote environmental consciousness in kids, you can ask them to make bird 🐤 feeders and hang them on your balcony. To make things more interesting, give them a pair of binoculars and an encyclopedia to watch and identify the birds.
Set up a tent for the kids in your backyard and ask them to go on a camping 🏕️ adventure. You can give them cool stuff like camp lights and fun treats. Ask them to write a journal about their day.
If your toddler has learned to read by themselves, these are some of the best activities to keep them busy. You can assist them in certain cases if required.
Listening to audiobooks
Get a membership to any online audiobook 🎧 platform so that you can avail of audiobooks for your kids. This is a great activity to improve their vocabulary and listening👂🏼skills. Also, they will sit quietly in a corner for hours.
My personal recommendations in this category will be Because of Winn Dixie and The One and Only Ivan.
Solving a word puzzle
My kids love crossword puzzles 🧩, and I have many related books for them. It is not only fun and engaging, but they also get to learn so many new words and their meaning. It’s an amazing way to keep them busy!
Reading a book
Well, nothing gets better than this one. I have always been a bookworm and want my kids to be the same. Once they find the magic in books 📚, they’ll immerse themselves in it. Books will indeed become their best friends.
Writing a story
If you want to improve your kid’s writing ✍🏼 skills, the best activity for them is writing a story based on a topic they like or you provide them with. Wait to see what their imagination and perception come out with.
Writing a letter/thank you note
I know; nobody goes for handwritten stuff nowadays. This is why it’s all the more important to teach your kids the value of making someone feel special by writing them a thank-you 🤗 note or letter ✉️ and keeping a personal touch.
Writing a play
If your kid loves writing 📝 stuff, you can also provide them with a scenario and ask them to make a short play out of it. They might even want to rehearse it and put up a show for the family.
Keeping a family newsletter
To keep your relatives and friends updated about what’s going on in your family, ask your kids to keep a newsletter 📰 regularly. Your loved ones get to stay connected with you, and your little one keeps busy doing something creative.
I have introduced the concept of ‘Letter Wednesdays,’ where we all write letters to each other in the family.
Keeping a journal
Journaling is an excellent way to keep your little ones busy and help them explore themselves, especially their thoughts and emotions. Teach them that writing in a journal 📒 is the best way to release one’s negative emotions and stay positive.
Writing in a journal before going to bed actually helps us sleep better.
If your kid loves playing in the water 💧, this section is for you. All these activities include water play and keep your little ones busy having fun!
Turning on the sprinklers
Get your kids in their swimsuits and simply turn on the sprinklers 🚿 in your backyard. Also, if you want them to do something productive, you can use this activity to get them to wash their bikes while getting super wet!
You can change out the tubs and work with either water or sand, whatever you prefer.
Water balloon fight
Well, this is the easiest and most enjoyable activity you can get your little ones to do. Just give them some water balloons 💦🎈and your work is done. They can toss it against each other or play however they like.
Washing the car
Always try to get your kids to help you with chores while they are young. It makes them responsible and helpful. So, give them a bucket, a sponge, soap, and the hose, and they will wash the car 🚘 for you!
Setting up a water table
This activity is best for toddlers and preschoolers. You can buy a water 💧 table or make one at home using PVC pipes. Trust me, kids can spend long hours at the water table. Nice way to catch a break, no?
Right into the bathtub
Well, nothing like it if you have a bathtub 🛁 at home. Throw in a few pool toys, squirt toys, or bubbles, and get your kids in. Make bath time fun. It not only keeps them busy but also relaxes them.
Guilt-Free Screen Time
This section is a bit tricky. Keeping your kids busy doesn’t mean sticking them in front of the TV or iPad. Our goal is to keep them busy by keeping them off-screen’. So, try to limit screen 📱 time for your little ones as much as possible.
But that doesn’t mean they can’t see anything ever. Under your careful supervision, you can let your kids watch videos that are entertaining or informative.
According to Susan Friedman, “The quality of what children watch on screens is more important than how much they watch.”
Here are a few screen time activities for your little ones to keep them busy:
Watching Mister Rogers
For me, it’s the best show to watch 📺 with your little ones. It’s a slow-paced show for children that will eventually make them calm. My boys loved watching it, and they still do. Guilt-free screen time? This is it!
Watching kid-friendly documentaries
There are plenty of documentaries 🎥 available online that are meant for kids. They are informative, colorful, and very engaging. Find something that your kid will love watching and also get to learn from. That’s what you call a kids’ movie night!
My boys loved watching The Biggest Little Farm and Chasing Coral as kids.
Watching book adaptations
Do you remember being introduced to Harry Potter through the movies 🎦 for the very first time in your childhood? Yes, that’s a fun way to get your kids to watch fun stuff and read books 📖 they have been adapted from.
Listening to a famous actor
There are online platforms where actors 🎭 read children’s books. Kids engage in listening to stories if they come from a familiar voice that they adore. These videos are free, and it is a great way to keep your kids busy!
Listen to authors’ audio stories
There are plenty of authors for kids who not only write interesting stories but also make audio stories out of them so that kids can listen 🎧 to them, even if they can’t read. Find such videos of authors reading out.
Going on a virtual safari
If your little ones are fond of animals 🐅🐆, you can take them on a virtual safari and show them their favorite wildlife creatures in their natural habitat. This is also a good way of connecting with nature from your home.
Even I loved watching the Beluga whales, penguins, and otters at the Georgia Aquarium.
Picking a class
If you want your kids to utilize their screen time to learn new things, you can sign them up for a class, for example, to learn to play the guitar. This keeps them engaged, and they are doing something productive.
FaceTiming with a friend/relative
You can hook up your kid with a friend/ relative via Skype or Facetime 👩💻 when they are free. They will stay in touch with those who live far away, and this is a great way to improve their communication skills.
There’s no age to start doing yoga 🧘🏽♀️. It’s excellent if you can get your toddlers to do it. There are plenty of videos online that guide kids through doing yoga poses that are helpful for their physical and mental well-being.
Playing a brain game
There are plenty of games that aren’t just fun but require intelligence 🧠 and perception. If your kid has to play video games, try these. Get them to solve puzzles or a game of Sudoku. See how quickly they do it.
So, here we are. I hope you enjoyed reading these activities, and trust me, you are going to enjoy making them more. I know how hard it is to focus on an important chore with a kid constantly jumping around you. But these creative and engaging ideas 💡 will help you manage your little ones more effectively.
Also, every activity has an element of learning along with fun 🤩 and entertainment. Can’t wait for you to try them out!
I would like to know if they worked or if you have anything to share with me. Please leave a comment and post your thoughts so that I can know if I was helpful.
Warm regards and all the best! 😊
I’m a former teacher with a background in child development and a passion for creating engaging and educational activities for children. I strongly understand child development and know how to create activities to help children learn and grow. Spare time, I enjoy spending time with my family, reading, and volunteering in my community.