How We’ve Been Entertaining our Two Year Old While Stuck at Home
How to entertain a toddler when you hate baking and can’t leave the house
No, you see, my child is 2-years-old. He has the attention span of a fruit fly. And almost all of the articles I’ve seen providing suggestions on how to entertain a toddler at home look a bit like this:
03 – 100 Multiple variations on baking or crafting, I mean, FFS.
(Oh, and going for a walk, obviously. Actually, it seems like the answer to every lockdown dilemma at the moment is, “Are you going for your daily walk, though?” Walking, apparently, is the yoga of the coronavirus pandemic . And, unfortunately, that suggestion is absolutely no use to us either, because, as part of the shielded group , we can’t go out at all – no, not even for a walk. Which just leaves us with the crafting and the baking, and the daytime drinking, really.
Anyway, as I said, Max doesn’t really have the attention span or fine motor skills for things like baking and crafting yet – which I’m secretly relieved about, because I freaking HATE baking and crafting. Seriously, before I got pregnant, I said to Terry, “If we decide to have kids, I’m only doing it if you can guarantee I will never have to do any baking or crafting. Or build an obstacle course.” And Terry was just like, “It’s cool, your mum loves all that kind of stuff: she’ll do it!” Oh, the sweet innocence of people who didn’t know they were destined to have to live through a literal pandemic, without any childcare help, and with the internet constantly suggesting that baking is a good way to entertain a toddler for 12 straight hours every day. GAH. I mean, there aren’t enough recipes in the world, are there?
So, we’re not doing much baking or crafting, basically. Even more surprisingly, however, we’re not doing much in the way of playing with toys, either, because, a few weeks before lockdown started, Max decided he didn’t want to play with any of his toys ever again – he just wanted to play with things like scissors and magnets, and other super-dangerous things that definitively DO NOT appear on all of those 1001 Ways to Entertain Your Toddler Lists.
(Actually, I tell a lie: there are quite a few toys he’s still interested in playing with – and every single one of those toys is currently at his grandparents’ house. Which has made lockdown challenging, really.)
So: if we’re not crafting, baking, walking or playing with any of the 51,675 toys in the house, what ARE we doing in the way of toddler activities, I hear absolutely no one ask? Well, here you go: how to entertain a toddler at home, when the toddler in question resists all attempts at entertainment…
01. The Tuck-In Game
This involves taking every blanket in the house, piling them around the toddler, and “tucking him in”. Sometimes I am required to “tuck in” with him. Other times, my attempt to “Tuck In” will trigger a tantrum. Guessing which reaction I’ll get is part of the fun!
02. Tuck-In-With Towels
As above, only – PLOT TWIST – with TOWELS, rather than blankets. Didn’t see THAT coming, did ya? Max has enjoted this game since he was a baby, and shows no sign of losing interest, more’s the pity.
03. ‘Stuck Fort’
A ‘Stuck Fort’ is basically your standard cushion fort (So, take a bunch of cushions, and use them to create a half-assed ‘fort’…), with the main difference being that, once inside, your little one will pretend to be ‘stuck’ in said fort (Hence the name), before dramatically making his escape by throwing himself head-first over the top of the cushion wall. Then rinse and repeat. Until you die. These are the life skills you didn’t know you needed, guys. You can thank me for this later.
04. Sink or Float
Fill a bowl of water, then place various items in it, in a bid to establish whether they will sink or float. And also in a bid to establish how much water you can spill on the living room rug, apparently. Toddlers love games like this, which makes good ol’ Sink or Float an easy way to kill… ooh, at least five minutes, really.
Fill the bath with water, place random objects in it, and … that’s pretty much it, really. If you need me to write a complete guide, let me know.
06. The Little Girl Who Goes Outside in the Nighttime
Inspired by the first few minutes of the movie Charlotte’s Web , in which a little girl wakes up in the middle of the night, and goes out to the barn, where she encounters a piglet named Wilbur. All of the animals in the movie can talk, but this is not nearly as interesting to Max as the fact that the little girl goes outside IN THE NIGHTTIME, so this game has the following basic rules:
01. Your two year old pretends to be a little girl.
02. He pretends to go outside during the night.
In related news, guess who regrets putting Charlotte’s Web on that one time?
07. Anna and Elsa Climb the North Mountain
This game requires two players: “Anna” and “Elsa”. Together, they pretend to climb the north mountain, while draped in blankets. (YES, AGAIN WITH THE FREAKING BLANKETS.) The north mountain, meanwhile, can be played by anything you like – the stairs, the couch, a chair, I honestly don’t care: I gave up the will to live three weeks ago.
08. Anna Slips on the Ice
For this one, meanwhile, you will take on the character of Anna, while your child is Elsa. You will pretend to slip on the ice. Elsa will tell you not to do that. You will do it again anyway. Elsa will tell you not to do it. You will do it. Elsa will tell you not to do it. You will wish you could slip on some ACTUAL ice, just to break the cycle. You will not.
09. Ruin Mummy’s Makeup
Watch helplessly as your toddler picks up that tube of £20 mascara and attempts to paint your dressing table with it. Allow it anyway, because you’ve been playing “Anna Slips on the Ice” for 42 hours straight at this point, and it’s not like you need much mascara on lockdown, is it?
10. Ransack a Drawer
Empty out a drawer together, allowing your little ones to enjoy exploring the various new wonders that lie within it, including pens, posh notebooks that he will now destroy with the pens, and, whoops, there’s those really sharp scissors again!
11. Scrape Slime Off the Rug
Slime is one of the few “toys”that Max is still interested in playing with for a few minutes at a time: I’m just not sure if the five minutes of peace and quiet it gives me is worth the two hours I then have to spend picking it off the rug, his clothes, and trying to get it out of my hair.
12. Throw The Guys
Max calls his collection of soft toys, “The Guys”. In this game, he climbs into his bed and remains there while I throw “the guys” into the bed with him, from across the room. Then he throws them back. Then I throw them again. Then time slows down, and, eventually, goes into reverse. Then I realise that I’ve been throwing these toys around for 17 hours, but somehow only 10 minutes have passed. Then Max abruptly leaves the room, and I have to tidy up all the toys. Fun for all the family, really.
How to entertain a toddler at home:
Present your child with a box of scarves, then go back upstairs to collect the one scarf that’s missing from the box, which turns out to be the only scarf he actually wanted. Watch him parade around the room wearing the various scarves. DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, ATTEMPT TO TOUCH THE SCARVES. They are HIS scarves. Even although they’re actually all YOUR scarves.
14. Cooking the Cat
The play kitchen is another toy that continues to see some – albeit limited – use during lockdown. It is used to make “dinner” for mummy, and also to stuff Miaow Miaow the toy cat into the microwave. Yes. (Please note: do NOT attempt this game with an ACTUAL CAT.)
15. Sidewalk Chalk
Fun for drawing on the patio in the back garden, but MORE fun for drawing on your clothes!
16. Hide and Seek: Now With Added Blankets, Because, Obviously.
In the words of Max himself, I bet you will NEVER, EVER find him in this photo:
This is case I’ll never crack, folks…
17. Stones and a Watering Can
Take a large number of tiny white pebbles, the kind you might find a suburban garden. Insert every single one of them into the spout of a watering can.
18. Find a Friendly Wolf
This is basically exactly the same as ‘Ascending the North Mountain’ except this time you’ll be searching for “a friendly wolf”, accompanied by Mr and Mrs Matey , the bath foam people.
19. The Gnome Show
Your child plays himself. You, on the other hand, must provide the voices for five garden gnomes, a fairy and a small ornamental telephone box. Good luck with that…
And that’s pretty much how we’ve been getting through our days on lockdown: veering wildly between being thankful that he’s not old enough to require home-schooling, or to be too badly affected by the change to his routine, and wishing he was maybe just a little bit older, so he could entertain himself for a few minutes, while I grabbed a coffee or something. I’m sure other toddler parents can relate: I mean, I can’t be the only one spending most of the answering to the name ‘Elsa’ right now… can I?