How to entertain a toddler whilst stuck indoors? The million dollar question. Entertaining a toddler when you’re stuck indoors has never come easy to me. We are very much an outdoors family whatever the weather. I knew once lockdown and the school closures were announced, my 3 year old was going to struggle the most. Especially as he wouldn’t have my complete attention, I would be homeschooling my 2 older children who are 6 and 9.
Truthfully we have all struggled. I have tried my best to ensure that we are all having some self care and that my girls are having some one on one time with me and my husband.Also they have been in constant contact with their friends which has helped. My older children also have a level of understanding of what is going on. Whilst Alfie is too young. He obviously can’t understand why he doesn’t see his friends anymore or why he no longer goes to nursery.
He has appreciated having his sisters home with him and Daddy is a lot more present as he is working from home. Yet keeping toddlers entertained is hard work. They have a short attention span, my little boy needs to be out and about running and active. We are lucky enough to have a garden but after so many weeks Alfie has got a little bit fed up of being home.
Whilst trying to divide my time between three children here are some ideas of How to entertain a toddler during lockdown:
Plan the day
As boring as it sounds being organised helps so much. It is frustrating because I don’t want to spend my evenings planning work after a day of homeschooling but the days I’m not organised are the days we struggle.
A usual day for us is exercise. Just Dance, Joe Wicks or a run with Daddy. Alfie sometimes joins in and other times I play with him. I then ensure I have some work ready for my girls so I can do some letter and number work with Alfie. Next is break time for all three. This time allows me to prepare for lunch and check over the girls work. I often call my 7 year old indoors 5 minutes earlier to answer any questions. She needs more support with her work than my 9 year old. After lunch we have a walk followed by down time for Alfie watching a film whilst the girls get more work done – this also free up my time to help with any school work. Reading we do together in the evening once Alfie is in bed.
It is full on and some days I get so frustrated as I feel like I don’t have a minute to myself. Yet separating our days into sections helps keep Alfie entertained and also breaks up the day for the girls making it all a little easier.
Alfie has never been great playing with his toys. They just don’t hold his attention long. At the beginning of lockdown I had a good sort out of toys old and new. Now each morning, rather than bring all his toys downstairs I bring just one box. The train set, a car garage, play-doh etc. Each day is something different and because they are like new toys Alfie will happily play with them for longer than usual. All three children love this and I often find my 9 year old is happy to play along too.
Mix up the daily walk
We still try to go for our daily walk however we all started to get a bit fed up with doing the same thing every day, especially my toddler who just refused to walk.The last couple of weeks we have started to tweak the times. Some days we go first thing, sometimes mid-morning. Now lockdown has relaxed a little we have tried to change our scenery each day which is so much better. At times it is still a struggle to get everyone out of the house but we feel a lot better once we do.
Have a daily fun activity together.
From the beginning of homeschooling I have ensured we have one fun activity a day together. My Children look forward to this. It is one of the first things they ask me about every morning. It varies from baking, gardening, crafts etc. My toddler enjoys doing this and it is something I never done with him prior to lockdown.
Learning through play.
I have talked about learning through play before. We still do this a lot. They all join in, they are all learning and it is so much fun. We still do our tuck shop every few days and it is a great way to teach all 3 children who are different ages at the same time. Use our play-doh to learn about colours and shapes. Complete jigsaws together and use blocks to construct mini villages.
I have never done any kind of education learning with Alfie. He is only 3 years old and obviously attending pre-school so I have never felt the need. Since lockdown started I wanted to ensure that he was still learning and I was also looking for different ways to keep him entertained. Great Little Trading Company has some great free resources for pre-schoolers and older children. Lots of lovely colouring in templates, at home treasure hunts, sweet treat puzzles, learn your planets, dinosaur worksheets. Alfie has enjoyed these so much as has Harriet. If you have access to a printer definitely check them out.
It is not all plain sailing. We have lots of tough days. I have no idea how people are managing to homeschool multiple children and still manage to work. I don’t think there is one single parent in this country finding life easy right now. However we are in some kind of new normal. I am grateful for sunshine, lazy days, lockdown slowly lifting and of course each other.