24 answers

Need Help with Activities for 19 Month Old

HI-
I don't even know what to title this request but I need some advice. And I am sure that once our weather gets better and we can get outside more, then I will feel better. But I am bored and find it hard to figure out new things to do with my daughter. We try to be really active. We go to gymnastics, the library, the children's museum, out for walks, go to the park, playdates, etc....But sometimes I just feel tired of doing kids stuff all the time even though I know that is what my current job is. I feel horrible if I let her watch TV for more than 30 mins and feel worse when I let her play alone, but I just don't know what to do. I just feel like a bad mom We have tried coloring, which she loves, and tried playdoh, but she just eats it. What kind of things do other SAH moms do to help the day go by? I try to be very cost effective, so any low cost/no cost advice would be great. I just am running out of thoughts/ideas and I know there are tons of moms out there like me. Thanks in advance for any advice you can pass along

3 moms found this helpful

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So What Happened?™

I knew I would get tons of great ideas. Thank you all so much. I do let my daughter have independant play often with a little mommy encouragement every 5 mins or so, but being a first time mom to a single child, I just didn't know if that was really the right thing to do. She does well playing by herself, I just felt like I was being bad by stepping out of the equation every once in a while.
Anyhow, we headed to the craft store and got some fun things like feathers,curling paper, foam cut outs and paper and finger paints. And we got a big tub of oatmeal to dig thru. I just felt so "out of ideas" but now I have tons. Thanks so much. All you Moms out there Rock!!!!

Featured Answers

I don't have any fantastic suggestions of things to do. But I let my 20 month old have some alone play time. I still keep an eye on her, but I don't get too involved. I think it is good for children to have time on their own to develop their own imaginations. They play differently when their parents are involved.

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Hi AnnMarie,

I went through EXACTLY the same thing with all of the same feelings, at about the same time with my daughter. She's 21 months now, and somehow, some of that has passed. I agree with what other moms wrote, that it's important for her to learn to play alone some. And it's frustrating when she just won't. What I've found is that if I get down on the floor with her and play for a good solid 20-30 minutes where I am totally involved, then I can usually tell her I'm going to do something for mommy now and she'll play on her own for about the same length of time. So we do our day in fits and starts. I've also gotten some new-to-her toys that I thought at first were too "old" but she seems to play with them really well on her own - a dress-me-up dolly; a tea set; a wooden dollhouse with furniture and various small dolls; a wooden Thomas train set; a bunch of scarves for dress up; and lots of books. Most of these I got at yard sales or second hand stores for just a few dollars. (The train set was a gift from a friend, and a timely one at that).

Also, I try to get her involved in chores, so that she understands some of the work of the household and has fun too. She has her own broom, and one of her favorite games is sweeping. She "helps" with the laundry, with washing vegetables, stirring batter, rearranging the bottom shelves of the refrigerator, digging in the dirt to plant the garden, etc. She loves "helping" Daddy in the garage, so we have set aside some small tools and a couple of shelves for her to play with out there too (supervised, of course).

Also, we try to get outside at least part of the day, even when the weather is bad. Even 20 minutes can help change a mood (yours and hers).

I've gone through feeling like a bad mom too, but my husband is great at reminding me how much I do with her and how much positive, constructive attention she does get. So be gentle with yourself, and know that you are doing your best!

good luck!

K.

2 moms found this helpful

Encouraging your child to play alone at this young age is a good thing and may help keep her occupied with things that are interesting to HER instead of what you think might be good for her(which she and you are both getting bored doing).

If you honestly feel like she needs more closely supervised play, then another idea is to join a play group. Then you can interact with other adults while the kids keep themselves busy.

2 moms found this helpful

You can borrow activity books from the library. I like to be physically active with my kids - bike riding and going on the trails around here, taking them to the parks.

There are also books on things to do in Seattle - just ask the reference desk at the library. There is so much to do in this are - it's AMAZING! Check out the city web sites for the various cities around you. They have free concerts, activities for the kids - festivals, you name it.

1 mom found this helpful

I don't have any fantastic suggestions of things to do. But I let my 20 month old have some alone play time. I still keep an eye on her, but I don't get too involved. I think it is good for children to have time on their own to develop their own imaginations. They play differently when their parents are involved.

1 mom found this helpful

you are not alone. I have two boys who are now 9 and 7. I have talked to soooo many moms who did the same thing that I did with our eldest children. You don't want to let them play alone because you feel like you are not being attentive to them. Well, in hind sight, one hundred percent of us wish that we had let our first borns play by themselves more. My second son played by himself all the time (due to number one being the squeaky wheel gets oiled syndrome) and to this day is better at being able to entertain himself. Don't beat yourself up. How you feel is normal and yes, let her entertain herself now and again.

1 mom found this helpful

I completely understand, I was a nanny for 6 years before having my own children and I feel that I constantly have to be doing something fun with my boys and be loving it. It's not always that way though. I have had to learn to let them play on their own, which is really good for them. We like to do all sorts of things:
finger painting (washable of course and non-toxic)
baking
making puppets (paper and crast sticks, socks, paper bags)
"hunts" we use paper towel tubes for telescopes and they have to find certain things around the house-catagorized by colors, shapes, clues, etc. (this is good if you have to be doing something else too)
decorate t-shirts
build forts (fitted sheets work well with chairs or couches)
puzzles!!!
water play - in bowls or the sink (fun things are basters, cups, balls, clean sponges, spoons)
collages with any scraps, craft foam w/ sticky backs are great for little ones
beading with noodles or large wooden beads
make up stories together and write our own books (fold and staple a few papers together)
I could go on and on, but I hope that helps some, or sparks some new ideas.
Know that all moms feel burnt out sometime and not much fun, but you are doing awesome by wanting to be with your child and wanting to have fun. Make sure to incorporate things that you like and include your daughter in some way. This will let her get to know you better and learn something knew. Doing different things side by side is great too. You don't always have to be involved in what she is doing, hard I know. If you are near her, she'll still feel secure and she will learn to be independent. Keep being an awesome mom!!! And have lots of fun1

1 mom found this helpful

It's perfect timing to read your e-mail and some of the responses. I'm 38 w/ a 19.5 month old son who I adore. He was born 10/28/06. We've tried going to different parks with creeks or bridges and garage sales but w/ gas prices I've stopped doing it unless in conjunction with errands. He's helped with gardening or burning the trash ( I have him pile sticks away from the "hot"). We're learning about bugs, flowers, trees, etc. Since we live in AK we look out the window and say the sounds: airplane, train, bird, etc. He likes to talk while I do chores ( he kissed the vacuum bye bye). If I wrap a present for father's day he plays with the empty card board roll or boxes. I'd like to go get things to scoop and pour and measure but money is an issue for me since I quit working last Aug. I'm starting a cabin rental business out at our lake but I may have to return to work in the eves just to have alone time. I don't necessarily want to, so getting new ideas will help for me as well. I take pictures of him and e-mail them to family/friends and he can sit on my lap to see photos and then go back to playing. Yesterday at the park we played bubbles. Good luck to you and I'm sure your child is happy and well adjusted. I've started saying positive thoughts in my head. It's working. I am active, motivated and happy. I love financial freedom. Or whatever works for you. Making forts with blankets or pretend games are fun. (What animal am I, pirates on a ship, etc.) Hang in there. I'm even thinking of having a second child. -Tiffany & Xander

1 mom found this helpful

There are some great books out there with activity ideas for kids of all ages. Check out your bookstore or library. Some of my favorite books have craft ideas using stuff you already have around your house, or games that you can play without special equipment.

In many ways it is harder to have just one child because you end up being the playmate and you have other things to do, too. It might be helpful to find another mom with a same age daughter and do an exchange. Your daughter will have a friend and you can have some time to yourself.

1 mom found this helpful

Passing the time when the weather just wont warm up is hard. I have a two yr old and a four yr old. Our latest thing is to have a picnic. I spread out an old blanket wherever my daughter wants (in the house) ask her what she wants to eat and then we make a big deal out of if and if Im lucky an hour has gone by and lunch is done. Good luck, I know how hard it is Im bored too!~

1 mom found this helpful

I can understand why you don't want her to watch much TV...but why are you stressing about letting her play alone? My 13-yr-old is an only child and she had to play alone sometimes just so I could get some housework done. I think it's not only acceptable...but desirable. The fact that she can play alone has always been an asset for her. She learned to develop a fabulous imagination, making up stories and acting out all the characters. She played with toy dinosaurs...then horses, and loved creating her own worlds with Playmobile characters. She drew, and read as soon as she was able (5), and galloped around our backyard. She loves her playmates, and makes friends easily. She has never been anxious about going to a new place (class, activity) where she doesn't know anyone as she always makes a friend.

Being able to "be alone" is a valuable skill for people of all ages. Don't stress those times when you can't be hovering over your child or substituting for a playmate. As long as you give her 100% focus at some point during the day, she will learn to develop and cherish her solo-play.

1 mom found this helpful

Kitchen pans, bowls, utensils work great.

A plastic tub of sand, with the only rule that the sand stays in the tub.

Water, food coloring, whip cream in a can, with kitchen utinsels are fun.

I put these on a towel on the kitchen table and there really wasn't much of a mess - when supervised : ).

Potting plants is fun too.

Music on pots, pans, mugs etc.. with wooden chop sticks (less noice with chop sticks).

Large wicker tray with sides full of craft stuff.

I hope these ideas are fun for you and your little one.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi AnnMarie,

Encourage your child to play independently- you can sit and read in the same room to give yourself a break. I watched my sister devote her whole life to her son and although he is older now, he is extremely clingy and she is way too overprotective. I have two boys, 13 months apart, and I encouraged them to play together and separately. It gives them some good life skills to not have to rely on you all the time. I also got my Master's degree when I was at home full time waiting for my Green Card as I was going absolutely crazy being at home all the time.

For ideas, I used to bake in the afternoons with my younger son while the oldest was in school. He loved to put the ingredients into the bowl, mix them up and especially, put the timer on! We also played a lot of music and danced, played basic percussion instruments and put on puppet shows. The boys got to where they could spend a whole afternoon working on a show to give to us for entertainment after dinner. Puppets also help to stimulate your child's imagination and she will begin to make up all kinds of things, maybe even her own language when she talks to certain ones- I know my boys did!

Don't think that 19 months is too young to help in the kitchen. It is amazing how helpful they are when they are young! My two are now 13 and 14 and are very reticent to do their chores, when just a few years ago, they were wanting to help me!

Good luck!
C.

Hi AnnMarie,

As a SAHM of a 16 month old, I know what you're going through. It sounds like you're doing great coming up with ideas of fun things to do with your daughter. One of my favorite FREE activities to do with my son is take him to the pet store. He loves to look at the birds, lizards, hamsters, etc.

If you'd like to try playdoh, I know there are homemade playdohs that are non toxic. I can't say I've tried them myself, but check the internet or some kid cookbooks for how to make it.

Also, try not to beat yourself up for letting her watch a little TV (although I completely agree--not too much!) or playing alone. Think of it as independent playtime which is actually a good skill for her to learn as well as to foster her creativity.

Beyond that I would just say that she is learning from all the activities you do together at this point whether it's going to Target, the grocery store, the mall, wherever. As long as you're interacting with her at these places, she'll have a great time seeing all the people, foods and different objects.

Good luck and let me know if you get some other great ideas!

I applaud you for being honest about the boredom that can accompany parenthood & I look forward to reading everyone else's ideas. Our son is 2 1/2 & it gets a lot easier when they are at this age. Once they start talking, they say funny things & it just makes everything better. In the meantime, I really enjoyed imaginary play -- we had picnics in the living room with make believe food, etc. I enjoyed this a lot because it gave me a chance to just use my imagination & my son loved it. We still do imaginary play. It's also fun to get kids' books in other languages. Most public libraries have a selection now & it's good for baby's brain development & Mom's to learn new things. Hang in there! It sounds like you are doing a great job with all of the activities you are already doing. You might also think about whether there is something you really like to do that you can incorporate into your day -- even if that's enjoying a good cup of coffee before your daughter wakes up, reading a magazine article, etc.

Good luck & take care.

Another Mom who started at 38 & wouldn't trade it.

We have the same issue. I have a 4 year old and a 19 month old (born 11/17/06) and they definitely watch more TV than they should because I run out of ideas to entertain and play with them. My 4 year old is in Florida with my mom for the next 10 days and I find myself desprate for ideas of things to do with my 19 month old daughter that are either no cost/low cost! I just wanted to let you know that you are not the only one in this boat! If you get any fabulous ideas, will you pass them along please? Thanks.

I'm lucky in a way because I have 20 month old twins - they keep each other (and ME) very busy throughout the day! There's not a darn thing wrong with you encouraging her to play independently! This is the time when they start realizing they ARE independent from mom. My almost five year old was really good about independent play when he was a toddler and this attribute was a tremendous help in preschool this year. While many of the other children required the constant attention of an adult, and/or their peers, my son didn't require that constant validation. He was definitely a leader in school - not a follower. And his teacher told me that she was certain he'd been good with independent play when he was younger because he did so well and was so focused on whatever activity he was doing!

How about playing chase through the house? Or lay on your back with your legs bent, put her on your shins and play "horse".

Reading is good, even if they aren't exactly paying attention to you. The library has activities that are free.

I'm trying to think of what I do with my daughter. We don't allow any tv and we don't have a lot of toys for her, no playdough or anything like that, in fact. My daughter loves balls. She's learning to throw now. Another thing she's learning is to jump. We've learned to put on our shoes (and take them off!) and now we're mastering pants. Getting the pants over the rear is a tough one but we've figured out the legs. She can spend quite a bit of time with blocks, building towers. One toy we did buy and has turned out to provide tons of fun, is the Playskool Ball Popper. It's about $19 and has provided hours of entertainment. An advanced version of peek-a-boo, going behind doors, etc. Turn on the stereo and dance. Snuggle time (I have a snuggler). Tickle monster. Turning in circles until we're dizzy.

Also, the zoo has a free day each month.

Don't feel badly about letting your daughter play on her own! Kids learn independence through playing alone and they also learn a lot when they use their own imaginations. Some studies have suggested that kids learn more through independent play than they do through playgroups! Although we also belong to a few playgroups and go to the park, etc., I encourage my 16-month-old son to play on his own throughout the day.

I can relate to some of what you say and two things come to mind. One is that you might be trying too hard and the other is that you might benefit from a social network of other mums and kids. I belong to a casual neighbourhood network of mums. Every now and again one of us sends out an email - playdate at my house/this park from 10-12, and whoever can come, shows up. We talk about anything and everything while the kids play (or fight!). I love these mornings cos I don't have to think about how to wear my kids out for nap time (they are one and two), plus I get some social time. They are so excited to go to someone else's house and play with new toys and see other kids. (BTW this group was started by a lonely mum who put an ad in the neighbourhood newsletter calling all other mums..._)

As for trying hard to provide the optimum entertainment for your little one, remember that their expectations are quite different from ours. She may have just as much fun pulling all the clothes out of her drawers whilst you are trying to put them away, and while you might not get any tidying done, you could teach her colors for example.

Anyway its soon about to change. My 2 yr old loves washing up.
I fill the sink with water and various kitchen items and she is totally content to wash the dishes for a while. Sometimes I even give her dirty ones and they do get a bit cleaner. And so does the floor cos I have to mop it afterwards. I promise you, she will soon start playing more independantly!

Involve your child in what you have to do. She will enjoy it if you involve her and you won't have to arrange your day completely around her.

One last thing, are you possibly a little depressed?
I think it takes a bigger toll on our bodies to have kids in our 30's. Late 20's are said to be the best time to have kids, mature enough and bounce back quicker. I had mine at 34 and 35 and I suddenly aged alot and it changed my identity!

Also have you left behind something you are missing?
A career, some independance?
I was halfway through a Masters in Chinese Medicine when I became unexpectedly pregnant with my first and then almost immediately pregant with my second. I adore my kids and would not want anyone else to take care of them at this young age, but I recently resumed my program at 6 hrs a week and this is my sanity!!
Maybe you could find something that you do once a week that helps you connect to yourself, as an individual.;
I notice that I refer to myself as "we" cos I almost never go anywhere alone. That says something! Sometimes you just need a break to be you. And if it's a weekly thing, you can loook forward to it.

All the best
Helen

If your child is happy to play alone from time to time I would encourage it. It's not "bad" for you to let her learn to amuse herself. It's important to learn that skill and not need to be entertained all the time by mom. That being said she won't be happy playing alone for all that long so here's some ideas :)

Bubbles. One of the best things I ever bought were these bubble wands (you find them at fairs and such): http://www.bubblewand.com/?content=home
They are great for a young child because they can make bubbles themselves pretty easily. We have the two pack so we both get a wand and go crazy. He LOVES it.

Beans & sorting/pouring. I buy cheap bulk beans and put them in a dish tub. He likes to fill up different bowls and such and I also have one of those sand pouring funnels that has the spinners on it, etc. He loves pouring the beans in there. This is a good activity when you're cooking dinner. Although frankly I resort to Curious George more now (but now he's almost three so I'm over the guilt a bit!) . . .

Spinning is a very big past time. I can't do it with him but I will chant "motor boat motor boat go so slow, motor boat motor boat go so fast, motor boat motor boat step on the gas!" which he thinks is super funny and then he falls over--fun fun! He does this all by himself but really likes it when I chant.

Dancing - throw on some music and have a dance party. We invite "friends" (stuffed friends) and dance around.

red light/green light

Marching band: my son has a drum and instruments and we march around the house. Toilet paper/paper towel tubes are good horns for a no cost instrument

Speaking of toilet paper tubes--collect a few and you've got bowling pins

Make a "house" out of a big box. You cut out a door and a window and then you two can color it. Presto--free playhouse you can recycle when she's tired of it.

Good luck and don't let the guilt get you!

oh and one thing my son likes to do that I also like to do is go to a coffee shop. We go and he has a croissant with "dip" (jelly) and I sip my coffee. It's a nice compromise between adult and kid stuff!

If she enjoys playing by herself for a while, thats great. Give yourself a break and helps her to learn how to amuse herself. I was a Montessori teacher for many years and many of the activities were very simple. Let her help you around the house, examples: a spray bottle of water and a rag to "clean" , folding laundry, handing you things I f you have a yard, let her dig in the dirt. Sure it will take you twice as long to do the activity with her "help", but so what, she will have fun and begin to learn competence. Water, (supervised} is great, pouring. splashing, washing things. Does she take a nap? make sure you do something just for yourself when you get a chance, and don't feel guilty. Parenting can be boring and mind numbing at times, Even if it is the most rewarding job you will ever likely enjoy. Best wishes from mother of three and doting grandma.

Boy, I hear yah, sister. Our little girl is going to be 2 this month and my encouragement to you is that at about 22 months, she began to really love to do stuff on her own (play with dolls, "read" to herself, etc.), even telling me to back off! Independent play is definitely important.

Another idea that has been a huge hit includes the "rice bowl" (filling a very large container with rice and putting toys in there, along with measuring spoons, cups, etc. -- be prepared to vacuum, but it's not a big deal because you're sweetly stressing, "Try to keep it in the bowl -- woo hoo!").

Also, the PBS and the Sprout channels have online resources where you can print off age-appropriate coloring pages and activities (see http://pbskids.org/). When things seem to get a little droopy around the house, it's also fun to put on some cool toddler CDs (I just wrote in another post about the huge success we've had with the Veggie Tales' music) and sing your hearts out while dancing. It always puts ME in a great mood and my little girl loves to crank it LOUD. Thank goodness we don't have neighbors nearby :)

Good luck!

My favorite parenting author, John Rosemond, says in his book Making the Terrible Twos Terrific, to totally childproof the house so that she can wander freely (keep doors closed of rooms you don't want her in) and have a wonderful time exploring all day. Put away everything you don't want damaged or gotten into, and let her roam. That way her imagination, creativity and desire for exploration are all able to flourish - without your having to tell her "no" all day. She doesn't need many toys; she will love clean yogurt cups, toilet paper rolls, a spoon with a pan, etc. While she's busy entertaining herself (which is normal, and beneficial to her!) you can do your own activities. Good luck!

Hello! Contact paper and foam shapes(Michael's has some nice safe large ones) works well. Just tape the paper on a table and let her stick away! Cut-up pieces of fabric, pom poms, and felt shapes work well too. Keep up on the playdough. It is typical of kids her age to try and eat it. Model to her how to play with it and she will eventually get it. There are all kinds of great homemade playdough recipes on the internet. You can add different textures and scents to them as well. Scooping and pouring is great for toddlers, so get some oatmeal or potato flakes and let her do that. I suggest using a plstic bin with a lid so you can store it and put it in your kitchen or patio. Buckets, shovels, measuring cups all work well. Just keep these dry items clear of water! You can create a water play area like this if you are up to it as well. Stickers are great. Dot markers and chalk are great for this age. Paint can be really messy. They really have to be watched at this age. I teach a toddler class for Bellevue Commnity College and we always start by putting out water and brushes. They have a great time and learn the "rules" about paint that way. Painting tissue paper is really fun. Lastly, music is a great way to intereact with your child. All For Kids in Seattle or Barnes and Noble have some great CD's. Repetition will help her learn the songs over time. Dance with scarves to the music or play catch with them. Have a wonderful summer with your daughter and best wishes to you both! L. E.

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