As mums, we often find that there are times where we need to get things done, but our toddlers or little ones may want to be held or demand one-to-one attention. While screens are a typical go-to to distract children so you can check off a chore or two, research has shown that this can actually hinder their development.
The good news is that you do not have to depend on screens. Children are naturally curious and will latch on to an activity in the right conditions. This is where, as a parent, you can help this happen.
Start by choosing ideas that target your child’s personal interests, gather the supplies they need, then let them be. Your child will need chunks of time and permission to make a mess. Look for ways to control chaos without limiting creativity, like painting on the patio. Then don’t disturb them – not even with a “Good job!” comment. Children learn best through trial and error.
However, that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to get involved. Your role is to help get things started, then sit back and watch the magic begin! Here are some screen-free ideas to help keep your little one busy while you get your own work done.
1. SENSORY BINS
Sensory bins are easy to put together with large bins, coloured rice, kinetic sand, scoops and toys. They will keep your toddler entertained for ages and you can easily switch out the toys periodically or prepare different themed bins ready to go.
2. NO OR LITTLE MESS ARTPut your toddler in a high chair with something they can safely make art with, such as non-toxic finger paints or toddler-friendly crayons, along with some paper, and just let them go wild!
It doesn’t get much easier than pulling out a few tubs of Play-Doh and plopping them onto the table for an easy toddler activity! You can also whip up your own dough easily so your child will have abundant access to knead and sculpt as they please.
4. COLOURING PAGES
This is a classic activity for a reason. Just have a handful of colouring books and/or printouts at arm’s reach for a quick grab-and-go activity.
5. ALONE TIME PRACTICE
This is a big one. Kids don’t come into the world being able to play on their own; it’s a learned skill that most kids have a hard time with. Start with a five-minute timer and explain to your child that they get to start learning a new skill. Up the timer as they are able to play on their own until they can self-entertain for at least 30 minutes.
Not only are these activities screen-free, but they are also great in helping with the development of your child’s motor skills, imagination and more.
However, please remember that the activities are not meant to be a replacement for parental supervision. Always make sure that someone has an eye on your child at all times.