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Fun Things for Toddlers to Do While Their Parents Are Working From Home

10 things your toddler would probably rather do than interrupt a Zoom meeting. (Probably.)

Deena Campbell · 4 months ago

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When was the last time you got any work done with a toddler running around? Oh yeah, that one time months ago when they were briefly distracted by a crumb on the floor. 

We love our littles, but sometimes we just need them to be able to entertain themselves. That’s exactly why we compiled a list of toddler activities to keep them busy. Whether you need a few minutes to deal with dishes, take a conference call for work, or snatch a moment to send that last email, here are a few ways to keep toddlers happy and engaged while you get stuff done.

1. Play with bubbles

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Bubbles are an oldie but goodie that get the job done every time. Seriously, what toddler doesn’t love bubbles? It gives them lots of opportunities to run, jump, and chase every. single. bubble. We suggest grabbing a bubble blower that generates at least 400 bubbles per minute so you can finally jump on that Zoom call in peace. Caution: bubble solutions can get messy, so put down a mat or keep paper towels handy. 

2. Water sensory fun

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Water, water, everywhere! There are endless creative possibilities with water play. Set up a sensory water table (with a small amount of water) and include things to play with like measuring cups, funnels, sifters, colanders, or anything they can’t put in their mouth. On a warm day, add colored ice into the mix for a colorful melting experiment.

3. Free flowing cereals and sand

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Similar to a water table, a sand or cereal table helps build hand-eye coordination and strengthens their muscles. Throw in buckets, shovels and trucks to help foster independent play.

4. Play with blocks

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There’s nothing more focused than a toddler trying to stack multiple blocks. They are just so determined to not let those blocks fall! Aside from strengthening their fingers, hands, and arms, building also helps little ones develop problem solving skills and learn spatial awareness.

5. Paint!

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For starters, understand that whenever you let a toddler paint on their own things will get messy. Full stop. But if you embrace the mess and understand your toddler is exercising the creative part of their brain, the mess becomes less burdensome, right? (Right??) If you’re truly anti-mess here’s a little secret: put gobs of paint inside a clear plastic bag and seal it up tight, so they can mush the paint around in a mess-free way. Brilliant!

6. Dive into make believe

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Toddlers love pretending to be all kinds of wild and amazing creatures — but what they love pretending to be the most? You, favorite grownup ever. Pretending to be “adults” encourages toddler’s imaginations and empathy, and gives you a brief moment to woosah. For younger toddlers, encourage play with kid-friendly mirrors, pots, pans, and pretend food. For older toddlers, use finger puppets, dolls, and cars with small people inside. 

7. Have a dance party

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Ask any parent: A 3 year old’s dance moves will instantly brighten your day. Not only does dancing boost kids’ health and well-being, it improves their overall happiness, too. Just be sure to carve out some time to join in the fun when you’re off that call.

8. Play in a fort

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It might be too much to ask them to build a fort at this age, but they can spend hours playing in one you’ve made, or organizing the materials. Simply set up old cardboard boxes, pillows, sheets and even soft chairs to create a wonderland of adventure. Let them be in charge and watch their imaginations take flight.

9. Kick around a ball

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The ball won’t get very far, but that’s the point when you’re trying to do work and want to keep them in eyesight. Grab a large ball, head to your basement or large outdoor space and let them have at it.

10. Have tablet fun

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When all else fails and you just need an uninterrupted moment to yourself — pull out the tablet. No judgement here! There are a host of educational programs to entertain your little one for at least 15 to 20 minutes. And sometimes that’s all the break you need.