If you are like most moms and refuse to pay a small fortune to take your child to the newest waterpark every weekend or for another boring trip to the mall, here are some easy fixes and activities you can have at home, to keep your child entertained and engaged while you go about your weekend routine!
Grocery tasks made fun
Although the idea of having a toddler pulling items off food shelves or pulling down displays can give even the Supermoms in us goosebumps, there are plenty of ways to keep your child occupied while shopping.
Involve the little one in the experience, assuming your child is old enough; ask them to find a specific fruit for you or pick out a specific number of items. For example, “Can you bring me four oranges please?” Give them ownership and responsibility, allow them to help weigh the vegetables and help in the billing process, allow them to handle paying the cashier. However always keep a close eye on them to make sure they don’t wander out of sight.
Get cracking in the kitchen
The household kitchen is a great place for your child to enhance their fine-motor skills (muscles in the hands, fingers, and wrists). There are numerous baking recipes available online, but sometimes baking may not be feasible while competing against the clock to get things done. This is the best time to get your little chef to help out.
Make a fun chef’s hat for them (wear one yourself to act silly) and get to work. Give them child knives (available in a variety of fun colours at IKEA) and get them to chop vegetables and fruits. Get a small chair/stool for them and give them their own work station. They can help out in activities like kneading dough, cleaning vegetables, pouring liquids/dry ingredients into bowls, help in measuring cups, peel a hard-boiled egg or even smell and observe textures of different coloured vegetables.
Once completed, your child can help set the table, chances are, once your child is involved in the cooking process, dinner time will be a lot more pleasant and easy as your child has helped prepare the meal themselves.
Be a science wiz
You don’t need to buy complicated or expensive ingredients to carry out science experiments at home. The most basic items found around our home can be a used to create absolute magic for your child and fill them with a sense of wonder! For example, pouring baking soda into vinegar and dish soap creates a wonderful volcano eruption, you could use a recycled plastic bottle to carry out the experiment and add a dash of red food colour to make the ‘lava’ more authentic
A water colour bomb is another experiment your child will be fascinated with. Simply, use a clear water jar and fill to the brim, then add a few spoons of regular vegetable oil to it. Once the oil has settled over the water, using a droplet, add food colour into the jar. The colour will settle on the oil surface for some time before disintegrating into the water to create a colourful spectrum in water.
Sensory play can be anything that engages any of our five senses. Children love to engage in sensory play and this will keep them occupied while you go about your daily chores around the house. Get a large tub or a recycle box and fill it with different materials. They could range from soft fabrics, cotton balls, squishy slime, ice blocks, and shaving foam to rough textures and materials like coloured uncooked pasta, wet sand, water beads in coloured water or some pokey toys.
Keep tools like plastic tweezers, scoopers or sand toys for children to use during play. Children will enjoy discovering the materials you have placed and will look forward to spending time in that corner. This is also a great way to distract your child for when they may have a tantrum.
Recycle and reuse
Make sure to collect old cartons, plastic containers, cereal and tissue boxes, toilet paper rolls and store them away. Bring these out for when you need to keep your child busy, lay down some plastic and leave some paints, colours, safety scissors and string for your child to use at their disposal. You will be amazed to see what your child may come up with.
This is a great way for your child to use their imagination and thinking skills to create something out of nothing! An old cardboard box could be a colourful car for your child. Don’t forget to be fascinated and display it proudly.
All the above ideas are simple to carry out and can be varied according to your child’s age. They will help keep your child entertained and out of trouble while not having to plop them in front of a screen. Phew!
- Sanobar Mistry is a published journalist and currently a kindergarten teacher in Dubai.