30 answers

HELP!!! Need Ideas for Keeping a Toddler Entertained!

For those moms who stay at home with their children...what do you do all day with your kids??? My daughter and I are driving each other up the wall lately. I'm 5 months pregnant and so exhuasted that it's hard to find the energy to entertain her. She is super clingy to me and doesn't play well independantly. I wish she had kids her age to play with but we don't know anyone who also stays at home with a toddler.

We go to the library on Fridays which she loves. I want to go to the park every day but lately it seems it is either 95 degrees out or pouring down rain and we can't play outside in either. To make matters worse, we are really really strapped for money so I can't afford to enroll her in any type of class or participate in any paid activity.

I love having structure and routine but it seems that since she turned 2 (last month) and I get further along in my pregnant, our lives have become boring & subsequently she has way too much contained energy.

Any ideas or care to share what you do? Oh...I live in Jacksonville.

Thanks a bunch!!!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks so much for all the great advice!!! I have gone to the Avenues Mall early before it opens and that has been great. We are able to walk around without worrying about crowds and she can play in the kids play area and it isn't crowded! A great way to get exercise and let her have fun, no matter what the weather.

I also joined jacksonvillemommies.com and am looking forward to meeting some moms on there! I have found some activity ideas also on Jax4kids and found places I didn't know existed so that was great too!

I am trying to get out of the house everyday to get her plenty of exercise and to keep us from getting stir crazy. I'm also making sure that we do some sort of indoor activity too. I am finding that if I focus on doing things WITH her throughout the day (where she & I are really doing something together) that she is more apt to play independently for a little while. I guess she gets her "mommy" time that way!

Thanks again!

Featured Answers


Have you looked into any local play groups or SAHM groups? I think you can locate some online. Good luck....

I am kind of in the same boat but I have a 2 yr old son and just had my second son 9 weeks ago. Before the baby was born, we did the park almost every morning (or swimming) then lunch followed by a nap.
Then the afternoon was just playtime at home or running errands.
What side of J'ville do you live in? My son is always looking for new friends.

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I know this sounds funny, but I used to take my toddlers to places like Target and WalMart and even ToysRUs and play in the toy section. It's quite possible that this is one of the reasons I can go shopping with them now at ages 9 and 10 and I don't have to hear "can I have this? will you buy me this?" because we would go and play and not buy anything. The bonus was when it was time for birthdays and xmas presents I had a good idea of which toys they'd really want! (Tip= go after lunch so you aren't tempted to spend money on snacks or drive thru, so aside from the gas to get there it's a 100% free day!)

On days you are home all day, try making yourself a schedule. Keep it flexible since from one day to the next her attention span for an activity will fluctuate, but make a list of things like Art Time (can be just blank paper and crayons one day and markers another day, you can get brave and use washable paint, and you can look online and do a cheap super simple craft once a week-- you can recycle products like toilet paper tubes), Reading Time (check out 5 books when you are at the library on Fridays and read only one new book a day-- or check out 10 and read 2 a day-- so reading time is special. You can re-read the same book more than once plus read some favorites that you own if she wants more reading time), Academic Time (you can use toys that you have or make learning materials of your own-- but focus on whatever is age appropriate and keeps her interest-- like shapes, colors and intro to letters or even just animal sounds. You can play simple games and I'm sure you can find some ideas on line), Mommy Time (you can start a project together like go through old magazines and cut out pictures, then make a book for her by simply writing a letter on each page using construction paper and glue pictures that start with that letter, or you can use Mommy Time for her "helping" you with chores like while you do laundry she can stuff the socks into and out of a paper towel roll or whatever, or you can just sit and play with blocks with her), Music Time (you can play childrens CD's and/or sing and dance around), Exercise Time (whatever you can do that's active for her to run down her energy and keep you from being a couch potato)......
Anyway, use your imagination to come up with sections of time. Then make a simple chart. You can use magnets or velcro on the back and each section of time (or class or center or whatever you want to call it) can be written along with a simple drawn or printed picture. Then you can show her the order of things you will be doing that day. For example, let her know that after breakfast you will be doing Exercise Time, then Craft Time. You can also let her know that after Mommy Time, it's {Fill in Child's Name} Time, which is time for her to play by herself. If she isn't good at this, train her how to play by herself! Have a box or corner of the closet up high where you keep special toys that she can play with independantly (go through the toys she has now and think of which ones she really can play with by herself) and stay close by at first, then try slowly leaving the room for a few minutes each day until she is able to play by herself for 20 minutes or so in a safe place like her own room (keep checking on her!)

3 moms found this helpful

have you tried to join a local playgroup? Most are free to join, and they can have LOTS of great things to do!

go to www.yahoogroups.com and type in your town and playgroup, and a list will come up...Choose one that sounds right for you and enjoy!!

What area of Jax are you in? I may be able to point you in a good direction!! There is a great one near Arlington, ICW, Beaches called Jacksonville Kids
In the mandarin area, there is Jax 30 and over
and on the northside there is Jacksonville Tots playgroup

Let me know if I can help you! :)

1 mom found this helpful

Hi M.,
I have 4 children(ages 7, 4, 3)-the fourth is going to be 2 in Sept. so I will just share with you what we do all day and hopefully it will at least be a little thought-provoking. After breakfast I kind of just let them have free-play time; i.e. the t.v. is on and they OCCASIONALLY stop for a second to watch while just playing in their rooms, bringing books to me to read while I read the paper, etc. Then we have a moring snack and get dressed for the day. After that we either go swimming, go swinging, go for a walk-something to get them outside so we don't ALL go crazy. On the days that it is super-hot even just being outside for 30 minutes really does seem to work wonders. Then, if it's lunch time we eat and my favorite part of the day begins-NAP TIME!!!! But, if it is too early for lunch or too hot we stay inside and color, or play with playdough, or I play with them in their rooms, read books, have a tea party, etc. They don't even care if I PLAY with them as long as I sit in there with them and talk to them while THEY play. Another option for a rainy day/too hot day is the play area at the mall. Sorry this was so long but I hope it helps a little.

1 mom found this helpful

we are the same as you!!! i am eight months pregnant and staying home all the time now. i am so tired and my girl does not nap!!
being outside is miserable unless you are in the water. there is a splash park in winter springs, and in lake mary.
monkey joe's off of howel branch is only $6.
we have a yearly membership to the science center and zoo. the mall play area is good too. it seems dirty and the kids can get rowdy but it is a great way for your little one to play with other kids.
we also started doing crafts in the garage. painting and coloring.

1 mom found this helpful

I'm in the same boat as you hun. I have a two year old and am 6 mths pregnant. I also have a 4 year old, but she started pre-k so I get a break from her for a couple of hours, but then my son has no one to play with and clings to me like crazy. I live in Saint Marys and have the same weather. I wish we lived closer together then we could get the kids together and let them run out their energy. I guess I really don't have any advice, but wanted to let you know your not alone. If you get anything good let me know cause I'm about to pull my hair out here. LOL.

1 mom found this helpful

I am not familiar with the Jacksonville area, but do you have a mall with an indoor play area close by? I have become a HUGE fan of these (it doesn't matter if it's pouring rain or 100 degrees out!) I would also recommend checking with local churches. Many have mom's day out programs and toddler playgroups- usually for no fees. Also check on www.mops.org to see if there is a chapter that meets nearby. This is a national organization for "mothers of preschoolers" that often offers free childcare (where the kids can socialize with their peers, make crafts, etc) during meetings. I remember being pregnant and tired with a toddler to entertain :) On the days I just didn't have the energy to get out, I'd go to the Sesame Street web site and print out coloring pages and follow a "lesson plan" based on the letter & number of the day from the show. This way, at least my 3 year old had some stimulation & was learning! Best of luck to you- hang in there!

1 mom found this helpful

We rotate toys. Serves many purposes. First, it "helps" keep the house looking like you don't actually think anything brightly colored and plastic is considered chic decor. Second, it helps your child from becoming overwhelmed with too many choices. Third, it makes it seem, to them, like you are constantly buying them new toys. Even though they've had them all along. Every couple months (or whatever time schedule works for you) we put away the toys that are accessible and get out a different set of toys that have been sitting in the closet. They rediscover toys they already own.
I've also heard that many parents put away Christmas gifts as well. So that you really don't have to buy new toys when they get so bored with the ones they have now. *there are 5 children between myself and my husband, so we don't have money to get them all a lot every year*
You can have music time. But the rule is to make music with household items. *may not be all that great when the new baby comes home though* put uncooked rice into a plastic bottle, etc.
In case of emergency, turn on NOGIN. There are times when mommy just needs a break. TV works. I don't care if people yell at me for saying it. My boys love NOGIN and Veggietales. It can buy me time to shower without someone popping their little head in the door or get some dishes done. Fix dinner, etc.
Just try to remember, boredom never hurt anyone. It's not your job to continuously entertain someone else.
Oh... one thing all my kids loved is going into a dark room with flashlights. Making shadows on the walls and just playing with the lights. Supervise that because they will try to open them.

1 mom found this helpful

Do you have a pool in your backyard for her to play in? That is the only thing that worked for me when my daughter was two and i had a newborn. She would play in the blow up pool and I would sit at the back door and have the baby.
Check out the local Moms Club. go to momsclub.com or mops.com. They have play groups and group activites each week that cost nothing. All you pay is a annual fee, like $25.00. I also got my daughter some simple peg puzzles that she would play with for a while also a doll house with little people and furniture. I swear she would play with that for hours and i would lay in the floor while she played. I got it cheap at a local consignment shop.

1 mom found this helpful

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