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Anyone else going a little stir crazy with a toddler during this quarantine time? My husband and I joke that it’s not THAT much different from our normal lives with a single toddler… but it is a bit more challenging when we can’t go on any outings, even to the grocery store which Ava always enjoys.
While it has been an inconvenience, it’s also been a really sweet time for our family. I’m due with baby sister in about a week now, and so this quarantine has forced us to slow down and spend true quality time with our daughter, as the moments of her being our only baby dwindle.
That said, it has required effort to stay sane. We’ve definitely upped our game on creative activities, but most of those require at least some level of prep work that some days, at 39 weeks pregnant (or quite honestly even if I wasn’t pregnant), I’m just not up for.
So I thought I’d share some of the toys that have been keeping Ava occupied for pretty long stretches of time and require low supervision and no prep (other than getting supplies out). Also, while I’m not against a little extra screen time during this season, I do try to keep her toys electronic- and battery-free, so you won’t find any baby iPads on this list.
Kinetic sand was a great recommendation from a mommy friend of mine. This isn’t a no-mess activity, but it is low-mess if you put it in a big plastic bin. I’ll throw in some cups, bowls, utensils, cookie cutters and magnet letters we have and it’ll keep my daughter entertained with no assistance from me for a good 30 minutes to an hour. Amazing!
Another low-mess activity that keeps Ava occupied for quite a while. We either tape down a big sheet of rolled paper on her table (like these rolls) or give her dot-marker coloring pages to color on. She loves the dot pages!
Here are some free printable dot coloring pages. You can find all sorts of them if you just Google, “Dot market coloring pages.”
Wooden Train Set
This one does require a bit more interaction from me sometimes when she wants me to help her put the tracks together, but it’s another one she really enjoys. Train tracks have been great for teaching her persistence and problem solving (when she can’t seem to get the piece to fit right away) as well as developing her fine motor skills.
There are tons of different sets out there with even more pieces, but for my 2-year-old, this basic one has been perfect. Not too overwhelming. Though due to my own nerdiness and desire to build cooler things, I’m excited to add on to it once she gets older.
Wooden Play Food
My daughter loves pretending to cook and serve them to mommy, daddy and her stuffed animals. She’ll play with these and her play kitchen for a solid hour or sometimes more. She’ll also bring them up on the counter via her Little Partner’s Learning Tower and pretend to cook in the real kitchen, too.
The set pictured is the wildly popular Melissa & Doug brand Fruit Cutting Set. The brand, Hape (a safe, non-toxic brand), has some excellent sets as well:
This particular set has been a big hit with us. We try not to go overboard on toys (key word, “try”), so I’ve resisted some of the more intricate play doh kits, and this very basic one has been really entertaining for Ava on its own. She loves the cookie cutters and other cutting utensils. We use them with the kinetic sand as well.
Upgraded Kiddie Pool
One of our favorite things to do last summer was the splash pad at our local Rec Center, but due to COVID, I don’t anticipate it opening anytime soon. I’ve been looking for good backyard alternatives that don’t cost a fortune, and I saw this one in a friend’s photo. It looks like a little kid’s [affordable] dreamland! I’m really considering getting it once the weather is consistently warmer here in Tennessee.
Another one I haven’t pulled the trigger on yet, but is just sitting in my Amazon cart ready to go. What a great way to expend some energy indoors without ruining the springs in our couch (or tumbling off the couch into the coffee table and ending up in the ER… the LAST place anyone wants to be right now).
I hope everyone is staying safe and making it through these difficult times.
I look forward to the day this is all in our past and we can go about our normal lives. Though, somehow I feel like it will be a “new normal.” While these are challenging times, I hope we all connect as families more than we would have had this not been part of our story. Stay safe and God speed!
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