Need to work and have trouble getting more than a few minutes in at a time? Trying to avoid watching Moana for the 500th time (will you judge if my favorite part is the Sparkly song)? RocketMamas everywhere know your pain.
Guest blogger Victoria Hilton, the owner of Stepping Stones Nursery School in Chicago, shares her list of creative ways to engage and distract your child so you can get actual work done in the dog days of summer.
Let them loose on all the random ingredients you had good intentions of using one day. This works well if you have a kitchen tower so they can work at counter height. Otherwise lay a big sheet, tray or tarp on the floor, give them some big bowls, wooden spoons, water and random herbs, beans, rice etc., to make whatever they wish.
Bonus - it helps clear out your kitchen cupboards, not so good - it's messy so if you're like me and can get a bit antsy about mess, you have to make peace with this trade off. For my older kid I extend this and call it magic potions or spells!
Grab a big bucket or tub. Fill with warm water and dish soap (use hand soap if your kid has sensitive skin). Have them clean their toys. We vary this from day to day. It might be car wash day, when all the cars get washed or it's bath day and the dolls get a bath.
Bonus - the toys are clean! It is water so you do have to stay in the same room while you work.
I also vary this for outside using large paintbrushes (the type you use for painting walls) the kids can wash the fence, wash the path, deck, patio - the options are endless!
Backyard Treasure Hunt
Print out a simple list of things to hunt for. Find a rock, a large leaf, a yellow flower, etc. If your kiddos are pre-readers, print photos. Give 'em a bucket and off they go!
Paint Chip Color Hunt
Pick up some paint color sample chips from the hardware store. Grab a giant roll of tape. Instruct your child to find items in the yard that match the colors on the samples. Tape the items to their matching color chip.
Shaving Foam Painting
Squirt out some cheap shaving cream and add watercolors or food colors so make colored puffy "paint." Let your little one paint paper, a canvas or even a window. (Bonus - they can clean the window after!)
Shaving Foam Sensory Play
Set out a baking tin, cookie sheet, wash bin or vinyl mat, squirt enough shaving foam to cover the surface. We like to drive cars through our shaving foam, but you could offer up dinosaurs stomping, snakes slithering, etc.
Stones and Water
Buy a bag of small pebbles from a dollar store. Give the kiddos a paint brush and a pot of water to paint the stones, watch them dry, and paint them all over again!
Ice Block Play
Gather up a small collection of plastic toys (little dinosaurs, creepy crawlies, My Little Ponies...put them in Tupperware filled with water and pop it all in the freezer for a few hours. Once frozen, give your kiddo a squirt bottle with water to "free" the toys. (Note from Margaret: I got a solid hour of work on the porch off this one the first time I tried it!)
Freeze colored water with popsicle sticks in them. Use popsicle molds or even just ice cube trays with popsicle sticks. Let the kiddos use the colored paint-sicles to paint until the popsicles melt! Paint on paper, the sidewalk or even the fence outside
Victoria Hilton is the owner of Stepping Stones Nursery School in Chicago. As a preschool teacher with more than 15 years of experience teaching in public and private schools, Victoria became frustrated with the search for a high quality, play based daycare for her own child and created her own. In 2015, Stepping Stones was awarded the ‘Innovative Entrepreneur’ award from the Women’s Business Development Center for their Nature Explore Certified Outdoor Classroom.
Victoria's headshot courtesy of TK Photography.
Find Stepping Stones Nursery School on Facebook and Instagram.