As I mentioned the other day, Lucas got a nasty stomach bug that lasted for a few days. During that time, I let him watch an embarrassing amount of Sesame Street and Curious George because he wasn't really up for doing anything other than lying on the floor. So when he finally started to recover, he was still in the mindset of "let's watch television all day." Which, you know, really isn't the most educational thing I could have my child do for hours on end. He's usually really good about entertaining himself with his toys and books for reasonable periods of time (for a toddler, I mean,) and he loves to color, but after he recovered from his stomach bug, he was still dead set on being allowed to watch TV all day. Oops.
So here are some random things we did together in the days after he was sick to get him out of "TV mode" and back into "let's actually do something" mode.
1. Play Dough and Uncooked Noodles
|How adorable is this smile??|
2. Treasure Box (aka - Box full of Random Stuff)
Moms who are a little more together than I am call these "sensory bins," and these boxes often have a theme. But as I've mentioned before, the theme of my sensory bins is usually "these are random things I found in my house."
The key here is that you want to fill a box/basket/container with items that have a wide variety of shapes and textures that will be fun for little fingers to explore. (Make sure that nothing in your box is a choking or strangulation hazard!) If they're not typical "toys," they seem to be more interesting than things your child gets to play with every day.
Here's what ended up in our treasure box:
And here are some more ideas:
- Pieces of yarn/ribbon/lace (make sure they're too short to wrap around the neck)
- Pieces of cloth/felt
- Clean sponge/bath loofah
- Key chains
- Shower curtain rings
- Cupcake pan liners
- Photographs or post cards
As with anything else your child plays with, this will lose its appeal if it's always easily accessible. So get it out for a day or two, then tuck it away in a closet until you really need it again.
3. Wrapping Paper/Crepe Paper
I'm going to say this up front - this activity is kind of wasteful. So maybe either recycle the paper or find another use for it after your child is done.
Having said that, am I the only one who has gotten sucked in by the 99 cent wrapping paper in the front of stores at Christmas time? I'm always like, "Oo, look! It's so cheap! And we need some! I'll buy three rolls!" Well let me give you a little hint. There's a reason that wrapping paper only costs 99 cents: it's not worth a whole dollar. Seriously. After it ripped for approximately the four thousandth time while I was trying to wrap gifts, I shoved it back into the closet and whipped out the expensive stuff. I didn't actually want to throw it away, but what do you do with really awful wrapping paper? Answer: give it to your toddler.
The first time that Dan saw Lucas running around unrolling a barely used roll of wrapping paper, he said, "Um, do you know that he's destroying a whole roll of wrapping paper?" And I responded with something like, "Oh, that wrapping paper would destroy itself if he didn't do it first." Lucas had a blast unrolling an entire roll of wrapping paper; it was definitely way more fun than watching television. (But make sure your good wrapping paper isn't accessible, or it might all become a toddler toy.)
If you've never been suckered into buying the worst wrapping paper of all time, a roll of leftover crepe paper/streamers that you're never going to use the rest of is extremely fun, too. (Lucas also had a blast completely unrolling two rolls of toilet paper while I was making lunch, but that was not a mommy-sanctioned activity.)
The great thing about younger toddlers is that anything that sticks is automatically a fun sticker. Price labels leftover from your garage sale last summer? Cool! Those address labels you got for free in the mail on which your name is spelled wrong? Sweet!! Just hand your toddler the stickers and some paper and let him go wild. (Bonus: circular and rectangular stickers are much easier for little hands to pull off without ripping them than irregularly shaped stickers are.)
5. A "New" Toy
I'm definitely not advocating buying your kid a bunch of new things to bribe them not to watch TV. This is more like an in-case-of-emergency idea.
There's nothing quite like a new toy/activity to distract a toddler from saying "George??" for the nine millionth time. Keep an eye out for good clearance deals, garage sale finds, and in the dollar section of Target for inexpensive toys/books/activities that can be pulled out if you really, really need a new distraction. Or, just put a few toys that your kids haven't played with in a while away in a closet, and in a few weeks/months - voila! They're new!
We've been using Pampers diapers on Lucas since he was born, and I've actually entered all of the Pampers Rewards codes for every single one of them. So periodically, I get to cash the points in for toys for Lucas. A few weeks ago, I cashed in some points to get a set of wooden alphabet blocks for him. I had originally intended to use them as a birthday gift, but they came a few days after his party, and he had already gotten a bunch of new toys for his birthday anyway. So I stuck them in a closet for an "emergency." I pulled them out one night when nothing else was cutting it, and even though he builds towers literally every day, building a tower with new blocks was extremely exciting.
(I thought of this one the morning after I first published this post, and it seemed silly to make a whole new post for it. Also, I was too lazy to change the graphic that said "Five things" so that it said "Six things." So here you go. It's a bonus.)
6. Giant Building Blocks
|Yes, my child is in pajamas in every single one of these pictures. |
I promise I really do dress him in real clothes.
What other ideas do you have for distracting toddlers when they've watched just a little too much television?
For more "this is more fun than television" ideas, check out these posts:
Ways to entertain your toddler inside when it's ridiculously cold outside
My "extremely sophisticated" homemade toys, part 1
My "extremely sophisticated" homemade toys, part 2
My "extremely sophisticated" homemade toys, part 3