10 Cheap And Easy Ways To Entertain A Toddler Who Is Driving You Crazy

1shutterstock_1173895__1374152460_74.134.205.46Do you know why moms end up with so many toddler toys when their kids are little? It’s because all moms know that a new toy equals roughly an hour of peace and quiet. My husband would always bemoan the amount of plastic junk in my house when my kids were little, and it’s because he didn’t understand that if toddlers have something new to play with, that moms get to do extra glamourous things like clean the refrigerator and change the furnace filter. Keeping little ones occupied means you get to take care of business and even though we all love playing the HOT AND COLD game with our toddlers for the gazillionth time, sometimes you just want to keep them out of your hair for a spell. Because you have stuff to do, and that can be anything from mopping the floors to watching Orange Is the New Black (I only have ONE episode left!!! SAD). So here is a list of junk you can do to keep the kids busy, and I hope some of these may get you a little bit of free time.

The Empty Milk Gallon And Clothespin Game 

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Have you guys ever done this? I think my own mother INVENTED this. You take an empty milk gallon and wash it out (like doy) and give your kids some wooden clothespins and they stand above the milk gallon and DROP THEM IN. It’s SO stupid! But for some reasons, little kids LOVE this shit. Tell them “I want to see how many you can get in” and they will go to town. Depending on their age, you can have them stand on a stool or sturdy kitchen chair but I don’t wanna hear any complaining if your dumb kid falls down. I swear, I think my daughter would even love playing this stupid game now and she is eight. It’s magic! And you probably have wooden clothespins and an empty gallon of milk in your house.

Dining Table Blanket Fort 

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(Image: Pinterest)

I’m so obsessed with blanket forts lately. I have been trying to convince Koa Beck to change her work station into a blanket fort and haul her computer underneath her work table but no dice. Even though I’m all obsessed with the fancy adult versions, I think with kids you can just wake them from a nap and show them how you have draped sheets all over your dining room or kitchen table and placed some pillows and coloring books and crayons, as well as a few favorite stuffed animals under there and let them hide from you for an hour or two. I’m convinced blanket forts make EVERYTHING better.

This Brilliant Pipe Cleaner Colander BUSY TIME Whatever It Is 

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What sort of mad genius is this? You obviously just give your kid some pipe cleaners and a colander and let them thread the pipe cleaners through the holes. I can see this totally giving you enough time to organize your pantry! I found this via Pinterest and the link led me to a really fantastic blog filled with many fun things to do with kids, so after you do this, you can find some other fun things. Brilliant.

Masking Tape Hot Wheels Track 

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(Image: Pinterest)

UGH, parents are so clever! I want to play with this! I don’t know if masking tape would leave a sticky residue or not so maybe put it on your not-very-best sofa, you know, the ones the kids use that you are always finding stray Goldfish crackers and Barbie shoes in.

A Box Monster That Eats EVERYTHING 

(Via innerchildfun.com)

UGH I love this, and I think it would make an excellent way to get your toddler to help you clean up too. Get a box, add an angry face and voila. BOX MONSTER! Arghhhhhhh!

Put Fingerpaints In A Ziploc 

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(Pinterest via No1hasmorefun)

Another totally brilliant idea I found on Pinterest via a blog called No1hasmorefun. This mom deserves some sort of award for coming up with this one. You simply put finger paints in a heavy duty ziploc, zip it shut, and tape it to a window or wall. No mess, and your toddler will probably be amused long enough for you to pluck your eyebrows.

 Make Some EDIBLE Fingerpaint 

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(Image: Wizards and Fairies via Pinterest)

Did you guys know you can make EDIBLE fingerpaint? I did not but this amazing mom from this blog did. I think this would be super great for a smaller kid who wants to paint but is still in that sticking-everything-in-their-mouth phase.

Give Them A Bin Of Water 

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(Image: Pinterest)

Here’s another one my own mom used to do with us when we were little, and I did it with my own kids when I was making dinner or cleaning the kitchen. Throw some old towels on the floor, give them a plastic bin of water and some toys and measuring cups and spoons, and let them splash. Of course, you should never leave little ones alone with water because little kids can even drown in a soup bowl, but with slight supervision they can mix and dump while you construct a Baked Alaska.

Have Them Sort Socks 

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Bonus points if they sort them into something that looks like a monster with eyes. Kids are dumb, you gotta admit, and pairing socks is a drag, which is why you should leave the totally boring manual labor to the little ones. The best part? They have NO idea they are working and they think it is FUN.

 Stick Stuff In Other Stuff 

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(Image: Pinterest)

I have seen this done with everything from rice to cheerios to beans to oatmeal. Fill a bowl with a dry substance and like the water above, let the kids dig for buried treasure like little plastic animals or GUYS or bouncy balls. It is sure to keep them amused for at least 30 minutes which is more than enough time for you to read the latest issue of Elle Decor. 

The best part about all of these is that they are either cheap or free and it will save you from one more plastic monstrosity taking up valuable floor space in your play room. And you deserve a few minutes of peace and quiet because no matter how adorable they are, toddlers can drive you utterly insane.

(Image: Katrina Brown/shutterstock)

Share This Post:
    • Chantelle

      I can’t tell you how many of these ideas I’ve pinned but have never tried. Finger paints and play dough are so easy to make! I will also try the gallon milk game as well.

    • Alex Lee

      Whenever I see things in a bowl of uncooked rice I think:

      “somebody dropped their iPhone in the toilet again.”

      Also, that finger-paints-in-the-bag-on-the-window works until the bag breaks, then your living room looks like Blue Man Group.

      …which sounds awesome, actually. Going to make Kool-Aid paintdrums now.

      • DMH

        Haha.. I actually snorted at Blue Man Group.

    • LadyClodia

      Some of these are great! I don’t think I’d try the finger paint in a bag because my 20 month old knows how to open ziplocs, and sticky, sugary finger paint is my OCD nightmare.
      The colander and pipe cleaner idea is awesome! I might even buy one of the mini colanders and take that as an airplane activity!

    • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

      But I’m Canadian and we don’t do milk jugs here! Ha. Otherwise, these are great, especially the pipe cleaner colander one….brilliant. Though I agree with the other commenters about the Ziploc…my kid would look at that and in 2 seconds would figure out how to get the paint out.

      • ChillMama

        Maybe we could use orange juice jugs up here? I know I have seen some plastic ones with side-hanldles and a little round opening…

        In any case, these ideas rock! I am sending this link to my sister for her toddler, pronto!

      • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

        Good call on the orange juice jugs! I was like…hmm…guess a bleach jug wouldn’t be a good idea…what else is in jugs??? and then I started thinking about jugs and forgot everything.

      • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

        HAHAHAHAH BLEACH JUGS . You could maybe use a slightly narrow neck jar?

      • lilacorchid

        Really? Must be regional. Milk jugs abound here. Can’t find bags anymore.

      • Toaster

        Same. I remember the bags when I was a kid but it’s jugs and cartons all the way now.

        Hell, we used to get our milk delivered BY THE MILKMAN in GLASS BOTTLES. Now that was awesome.

      • Rachel Sea

        You could tape the bag shut.

      • Justme

        What do you get your milk in?

      • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne
    • Justme

      These sound perfect. I’ll put a tag on my daughter with your address and put her on the next available flight. Have fun!

    • Erin Murphy

      If you’re up for a little clean up cloud dough is awesome! It’s flour and baby oil (people use food grade oil for the little ones in the everything in the mouth phase). It can be molded like wet sand and I’ve seen it keep two little boys busy for an hour.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        That sounds texture-y. And fun.

    • lin

      I’ve done the Ziploc paint one – I used painters tape on all 4 sides to stick them to the kitchen table at their places. They stopped asking when dinner would be ready – for about 5 minutes. But, it was 5 minutes of peace every day for a week, so I consider it a win.

    • SusannahJoy

      Doesn’t kool aid stain, like, everything? The rest of those sounded brilliant though! I’ll def try the pipe cleaners and the toys in rice!

    • Courtney Lynn

      The paint in a bag would be perfect!

    • Rachel Sea

      Masking tape (or painters tape) will not leave a residue, unless you leave it in place for several weeks.

    • Facebookless

      Really wish I could email this to people. Too bad no share by email link.

      • Liz

        Copy/paste the URL?

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      I’m 32, child-free, and I think a lot of those are super fun ideas!

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        Also, huge, HUGE Occupational Therapy ideas!

      • Holla

        A fellow OT! Hello!

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        I’m not an OT, I just have a lot of experience as a patient. It’s always awesome when therapy can be disguised as play.

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    • Holla

      OMG I love you. Thank you because I am about to duct tape my son to the floor if he keeps staying in my face all flipppin day long. All day. Did I mention he does it for the duration of daylight?

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    • Crowther Amanda-Beth

      You jist gave me idea for next year for a little girl who will he 4 next Christmas we already had that cjristmas gathering for this yr. I know she will love idea im going to do.

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    • Kamile Ko

      These tips may be good, but they work only for a short tome, because toddler gets borred fast… That is the problem… My suggestion would be to choose such an activities that kid would not only entertain but also would learn smth new. For example me with my kid goes to such a type of performances as- muziejai or we are making food together :) Try, I believe you will not regret :)

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    • mjmom

      a mommy told me about this new android application in the google play store to teach toddlers and kids animal names and sounds,, my toddlers love it and they have learned most of the animal names ,check it out , its a great way to entertain and teach your kids,plus its small sized app not like other similar apps: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=r.sound.mytoddlerzoo

    • Krystal

      I like a lot of these ideas, however, I don’t really agree with some of the ways this person sees/describes children.