Practical activities to do with toddlers

My favourite activities to do with the kids are ones where either I really enjoy doing it as well myself or there is a practical outcome. In fact I love it when we play a ‘game’ where something useful gets done as well. It only works though, when the kids enjoy it too, so I have compiled this list of things we can enjoy together:

Exercise

My kids have bucket loads of energy and my older one especially needs a good run around most days. Going to the playground is one way to do this, but going for long walks and doing sports together is something I find far more enjoyable. We are big fans of badminton, swimming and rollerblading (with the youngest in the buggy and the older one on the balance bike). Doing sports activities that everyone enjoys is a great way to all keep fit and have fun together as a family

Food


I love baking with my kids – next time you are thinking of getting out the playdough,
make cookie dough instead! Making cookies, cakes and puddings are a great way to teach your kids about measurements, ingredients, baking techniques and equipment. At the end there is something yummy to eat too – hooray!

When you are making a salad, get your kids to help you chop vegetables – I find my son always eats them instead and it can be quite a sneaky way to get your kids to eat more veg.

Teach your kids how to make sandwiches – the sooner they get the hang of it, the sooner you don’t have to make them for them anymore! Well that’s my theory anyway.

Teach your kids basic recipes, such as how to make omlettes – my 3 year old son loves cracking eggs for some reason and is pretty good at it. Even my 1 year old had a go at cracking an egg the other day when I was looking in a different direction for 5 seconds and the results weren’t too bad.

Grow food with your kids – get them to help plant the seeds and water the plants. Show them the plants growing each day and let them pick and eat the results. Even in the winter you can grow herbs and a multitude of sprouts.

Take your kids fruit and veg picking. We went a few times last summer and our son is an expert at picking ripe raspberries now. It is such a great day out and we only spent money on petrol and produce which we got to take home with us!

Cleaning and tidying

Why would you want to do the cleaning with your child? Well if like me you have ditched all the chemical cleaners out there (apart from toilet bleach occassionally – alternative suggestions gratefully received) and are only using child safe cleaning products there are no safety risks. Secondly if you bring your children up to think cleaning is fun, then they won’t resent the activity when they are older (as I often do). Finally you might actually enjoy the cleaning more yourself.

I often find that tidying the kids bedrooms with the kids is an activity in itself. If they are covered in toys, then the children while ‘helping’ actually spend a lot of time playing with the toys. I also find I notice the toys more and show the kids how to play with them as we are tidying up. Once all the toys have gone away, the kids love ‘helping’ with the hoovering.

Likewise, dusting, mopping, cleaning windows are all great games to the kids. My son loves the water spray I use on the windows and mirrors and would happily spend all day spraying things with it. Sometimes I have to fight him for the dustpan and brush and he loves sweeping the floor.

Even if whichever cleaning activity I am trying to do doesn’t quite get done, I find it much easier to do this kind of ‘playing’, than one in my house gets turned into a big mess.

Shopping



I am not a big fan of shopping, but sometimes it really needs to be done. I actually do most of my grocery shopping online as I find it less stressful and easier to control my expenditure. However on the odd occasion (well fairly frequently actually) I find I need to go to the supermarket to get something. I am in a lucky position that I can walk to a supermarket and there is a park with a playground on the way. I did mention earlier that I am not a big fan of playgrounds, but it is a great compromise and a whole outing in itself. We get to go for a walk, which I and the kids like. We play in the playground, which the kids like and I do in small doses. We get the shopping, which I like as I feel I have done something useful and then we walk home, which we all like.

I am a big fan of charity shops and I like perusing them occasionally for bargains. The ones I go in always have a toy section and my son always makes a beeline for it. This is more of a family activity so my husband can keep an eye on him while I am looking around, but it isn’t too much of a problem him having a little play with the toys as they aren’t all shiny and new and in perfect condition to start with!

Cards and gifts



I have decided to make cards in future from upcycled materials wherever possible and also to start making gifts as well where practical. My son isn’t really into arts and crafts a lot of the time, but when I start doing cutting and sticking and drawing he often wants to join in. I give him child friendly versions of the equipment I am using so that he can copy what I am doing/ do his own version. At the end I have done something useful and we have done an activity together.

What activities do you do with your kids that have a practical outcome? I would love to hear your ideas and suggestions

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