So we now have a very active 3-year-old and an equally energetic though slightly less mobile 9-month-old. Different needs, different abilities, different levels of understanding and attention spans. How do you keep young kids of varying ages entertained AT THE SAME TIME… especially when it’s raining outside or too cold or too early or too late, or you just need a minute to breathe?
- Let them entertain each other! Baby in the pack-n-play and big brother playing peek-a-boo has held us a good 5-15 minutes while providing all with laughs and smiles.
- Group snack time! Give that baby a few yogurt melts in his high chair and give that big boy a snack such as apples and peanut butter or pita chips and hummus. Bonus if you can give him kid scissors to practice cutting skills on an apple slice or don’t mind a little experimenting with crushing chips with a water bottle. They can entertain themselves and each other!
- Pull out all the plastic and stainless steel bowls and utensils for a family jam session on the kitchen floor! Walk around them while putting away dishes and contribute the occasional tap. Easy cleanup if you already have a low cabinet dedicated to your kiddos.
- Purchase and keep handy a kid tunnel. We had ours stored in the garage during the wet season but my smart husband recently pulled it out to use indoors and man those kids love that thing! They crawl through one way and back the other way over and over again. They throw in pillows and blankets, stuffed animals and books. Keeps them happy 5-20 minutes, longer if you participate! Just know the novelty wears off after a few days. Like any other toy you can stash it somewhere and pull it out after a few days or weeks and BAM, new entertainment!
- BATH TIME! Get those kids in the tub. Our baby goes in a small laundry basket inside the tub so he doesn’t slip and slide and the tot goes right in the tub. They can play together, write on the side with bath crayons, squeeze water at each other and have a blast. Don’t worry too much about washing hair, etc. This is just another fun activity and can last 10-30 minutes depending on your kiddos… and you.
- Play in every single room together. Let’s play in the baby’s room. Okay! Let’s play in big brother’s room. Okay! Let’s play in the kitchen, in the living room, in mommy and daddy’s bedroom. Okay! Let’s look at ourselves in the bathroom mirror. Okay! Be creative. Build forts, play peek-a-boo, let your house get messy and your clean sheets and blankets torn off of beds. Kids are messy. It’s all good.
My last bit of advice, and this is just as much for you as it is for me, is to look around your house and identify any objects or spaces that you haven’t explored yet. If there are no small pieces (choking hazard) and no sharp corners, give it a go! The rad thing about kids is they have more creativity and imagination in their little toes than we will have the rest of our lives. They can see the potential in everyday items because the world is still their oyster. They don’t know yet that a basket is just a basket. They think it is a bear cave. And, well, they’re right!