As parents, we have the most demanding job around. There are no sick days, no vacation days, no paid time off. When you’re feeling under the weather, you learn pretty quickly that complaining doesn’t help anything because that infant still needs to be fed and you’ve got the only milk jugs around. So despite a raging fever, the puke bucket you carry like a purse, and the massive pounding in your head, you push through, entertaining your little people as best you can when you feel like death. What can you do when these inevitable times hit?
Last week, I found out the hard way that it’s a good idea to have a stock pile of toddler activities that are quick and easy to put together, and will entertain your kid while requiring little effort to get off the couch. Thanks to five severe migraines in a four-day period, only putting on TV shows and throwing goldfish crackers at my 2 year old wasn’t cutting it anymore. I had to quickly come up with things my toddler could do safely without needing me constantly by her side to supervise. I thought I’d share those activities with you, since I’m sure you’ll have days where getting out from under an ice pack might seem impossible as well.
Pencil Box: Having just moved into our first home, we have a plethora of different sized boxes lying around. I taped closed a few empty boxes and showed my toddler how to poke pencils through the lid. For some reason, she thought it was so hilarious when they disappeared and clunked to the bottom, so it worked for a good half hour. It probably helped that I would make a few silly sounds when she first started poking the pencils through, until she learned to do the sounds herself.
Shaving Cream Painting: Quite simply, I used food coloring to dye shaving cream various colors and let my daughter finger paint it all over her tub. This allowed her to be distracted and entertained for an hour and a half and for clean up, I just turned on the shower to rinse her off. You can find an example of this activity here.
Crayola Magic Markers: These things are genius! Using these markers, your toddler can color to their heart’s content without you worrying about them drawing on anything they shouldn’t be while your head is in the toilet! You can buy them for pretty cheap at Walmart, dollar stores, or even right here on Amazon.
Letter to Daddy: Open your laptop to an empty word document and let your toddler write a letter to daddy! Of course it was all gibberish, but my daughter has seen me typing enough times to know how to mimic what she thinks I’m doing and it kept her entertained for about 45 minutes. This was especially fun for her because she’s not usually allowed to touch our computers, so the novelty of it helped.
Oil Bags: Put some oil and water in a Ziploc bag. Add food coloring. Duct tape the bags to the edge of a table or up on a sliding glass door. Your toddler will love pushing the oil around the bag in a sort of makeshift lava lamp. If you have paint, sour cream, applesauce, or yogurt, you can add that to other bags. Basically, anything that will squish around and look cool up on your window will work. This mom used hair gel and googly eyes!
Rearrange, rearrange, and rearrange: It’s amazing how entertained our kids can be with simple things we take for granted. Let your child play with the cars from your game of Life, or put coins into your piggy bank for you. Have any of those colored pom-poms you can buy at the dollar store? Give your kid a handful of them and some Tupperware containers and let her go crazy filling and dumping them. Have beads and pipe cleaners lying around in a craft box? Have her thread those suckers and make you a bracelet! Sure, these all require a little more attention on your part to make sure she doesn’t swallow any of these little pieces (I learned to not trust my girl with Scrabble tiles) but watching her play with those from the couch is a lot easier than chasing her around!
Basically, if you aren’t worried about the mess your spouse will probably have to come home and clean up, and you’re only focused on getting through a rough day, these toddler activities can help see you through. By the end of my migraine fog, I wanted to cry seeing how much of a mess our house was. Dried shaving cream in the shower, colored pencils everywhere, fish crackers crushed up into the carpet… But my toddler was happy and busy, I was able to rest as much as possible, and we made it through. Some days, that’s all you can ask for.
What are you favorite activities for your toddler when you’re not feeling well? Share in the comments below!