Have a toddler and need to get stuff done? Don’t want to sit them in front of the tv?

Here’s my list of ten activities I do with or give to my toddler to do independently while I do housework. As much as I love spending time with my little one, sometimes I need to fold laundry and put it away (ugh) or clean toilets (ugh times two!) I also have an infant who nurses every three hours so I need ways to keep my toddler engaged.

I would love to hear about the creative ways you keep your children occupied. Ways that do not include screen time. Please comment below!

  1. Sorting colors. I bought a pack of colored pom pons from the grocery store. I put them in a big pile on the floor and have my little one sort them by color. I call it a game and she has fun!

  2. Stickers. I try to use stickers for fun but throw in numbers for added purpose! Take a large sheet of paper and draw 10 rectangles or circles. Label each shape with a number 1-10 (or more). Have your child add stickers to the shape to match the number.

  3. Paint the tub. This is a great chance to teach colors and mixing colors. Do not fill up the bathtub. I like to make homemade paint for the tub but using food coloring to dye shaving cream. I place the different colors in a muffin tin and let my daughter paint the walls of the tub. I let my daughter play in the dry tub with the shaving cream (in the nude). This gives me time to sweep, scrub the toilet, sink and floors in this room. Then I wet a wash cloth for her to clean up her tub. Finally, I help her shower off. You can also use this time to bring a load of laundry into the bathroom to fold. As much as we think our children would be fine if we put water in the tub and left the room for just a few minutes, you never know. I don’t do it.

  4. Ribbon Dancing. Simple. Cut long pieces of ribbon, turn on the radio and let your toddler have at it. Twirl, twist and spin! Amazon sells these fun ribbons!

  5. Peeling Crayons. I have no clue why my little one likes to do this but we get all of the broken crayons out of her crayon box and she peels the paper off them for me. Later, we break up the crayons, put them in silicone muffin tins and make shaped crayons (google the recipe. You bake a very low temp for a short amount of time). This is great for fine motor development.

  6. Toys in the shower. Sometimes a shower is so much easier than a bath. I have my toddler shower with me and I bring in some of her toys. Take a look at the dress up dolls in the picture. They are so great for talking her into getting in to get clean! You know how toddlers don’t always like to take a bath or shower, these dolls help! So does a cup of tea (a plastic tea set we take in the shower). At the same time, I get to enjoy a shower longer than 5 minutes. Educational? Sure! Talk to your child about using manners when asking for something (tea in this case) or talk about the clothing the dolls are wearing. Which clothes should they wear in the warm weather? In cold weather?

  7. Magazines. Save all of those random toy magazines and children’s clothing magazines you get. Have your little one look through and circle the things they like. Help them cut them out and make a collage! You can help them categorize them. A category for toys, clothes, food, etc.

  8. Books on tape or DVD. You can check them out at the library! Plug in the cd and press play. Your toddler will enjoy hearing someone else read. It’s okay if they don’t always turn the page when they hear the bell. You might think the ipad or iphone apps with books are a substitute for this, but think about checking out the books on cd from the library. It’s a fun experience for your child to have the book in their hands!

  9. Cleaning. I will fill up a plastic tub of plastic toys, spray it down with vinegar and water and have my toddler help me clean their toys with a dry rag. Be sure it’s a safe solution that you are using. Even if it’s just water in a spray bottle. Your child will still like to mimic cleaning and feel proud of their hard work.

  10. Crafting. I love to scrapbook. I also take pleasure in wrapping presents and filling out the girls’ baby books. To keep up with these fun activities, I get a big blanket, lay it down in our laundry room (which doubles as a craft room) and my daughter and I craft together. I have a few boxes of scrapbooking shapes, stickers, stamps, markers, glue sticks, etc. that she can go through and use. I get to do my thing while she creates right next to me! She is getting into the alphabet letters and asking me how to spell people’s names. This special time doubles as a learning activity!

You might wonder where my infant is during these times. She is either napping, in the Baby Bjorn or right next to us engaging in her little infant ways! I have learned that I have to be thoughtful as to where to put all of my toddler’s little toys and activities. Someone gave me this great suggestion: any little bitty toys that are a danger to my infant, stay in my toddler’s room. We take time to go in there and play just the two of us. Our playroom and craft room have only toys that are safe for both girls to play with.