Activities for 7 and 2 Year Old

Updated on February 19, 2016
L.F. asks from Wantagh, NY
14 answers

In the winter, if you have a 7 & 2 year old, how do you keep them busy? It's too cold for walks or the playground. Play dates are infrequent and money is tight. Yesterday, I borrowed a museum pass from my library. This morning we spent an hour (due to nap time) at an indoor bounce place. It wasn't for my soon-to-be two year old, too many bigger kids to topple her. I try really hard to think of free or cheap activities as I crave being out and not home so much. I always end up at the library lately because where do you go with a baby, especially after nap time, between 2:30 and dinner time? Dinner is usually at 5:30 as both kids want to eat. The play areas at malls for free are too babyish for older child. It can get pretty lonely by myself with two kids but I try to make play dates when possible. I didn't call anyone this school week off for play dates because money is tight until payday. Thanks for the advice!

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all the good suggestions! They really are good ones that I need to try so I won't get upset when I buy toys for birthdays & Christmas that aren't played with. My husband would agree about being outside but under 40 degrees I'm not into being outside, except to walk the dog.

The play dates my oldest has never seem to usually be in homes. They usually involve going to an indoor play place like Trampoline Sports, Laser Bounce, doing nails and getting lunch.

My home is tight with an unfinished basement and my oldest's bedroom tends to be quite cold (we use a space heater.) Our yard is large and great in warmer weather and we have a pool! I guess if I invite kids over, have a craft planned so the kids have something to do. I know not every home is a "Property Brothers" reno.

Thanks again for the ideas!

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answers from New York on

I would bundle them up and take a good walk to a playground daily. You will see it will make a huge difference for all of you. And kids don't feel the cold like adults do. They will love to be outside in any weather!

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answers from Norfolk on

My Mom's philosophy was - everybody spends 2 hours outside every day.
The only time we stayed in is if there was lightning, tornado watch or actual zero visibility blizzard going on.
You bundle up and go out.
Another popular option is a play area inside the mall (or Burger King or McDonald's or Chuck E Cheese).
It's a very germ ridden option but the kids love it - just wash their hands afterward and before they eat anything.
You don't have to buy much - a small drink maybe a few fries and you can stay as long as you want.

For fun activities inside - get a large cardboard box from an appliance dealer.
Make it into a fort/castle/rocketship, etc.
They can color it after you cut out some windows in it.
Then read stories in it with a flash light.
Great fun!

40 degrees too cold for you?
40 degrees is a spring day in Buffalo! (ny)
Now 15 degrees or anything with a windchill that brings it down into that range - then, yeah stay inside (although a bon fire when it's cold out can be really nice!).
You dress in layers, cover your head and hands (and face if it's breezy), wear warm boots.
You live in an area with 4 seasons - you should embrace them!
You'll feel better if you do!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

L. you need to join a moms club. You need to be around other adults, I can tell! Being stuck home all day during the cold months is hard, I know, I had three kids in six years. One thing that helped was not being so tied to the nap schedule, the third one napped when and where she could, the car, the stroller, whatever.
Also why do you need money for play dates? I don't understand that. When your older child has friends over they should just be playing, hanging out, watching TV, playing games, etc. None of these "activities" cost money. I usually brought out the play doh, paints, beads, stuff like that when we had friends over. Sometimes we baked cookies or cupcakes.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

you know, i wouldn't make myself too crazy over this. playing is a kid's main job in life, and for the most part parents are wise to let them get on with it.
maybe one outing and one activity per day. other than that, let boredom do its job. boredom begets startlingly wonderful creativity if parents don't rush to fix it.
i know getting little people bundled up for walks in cold weather isn't much fun, but it's really very, very rare for the weather to be 'too cold' for walks. the right clothing makes almost any weather the right weather for walks, and if they're part of your daily routine everyone will really enjoy them.
and they can take place in the mall if the weather is truly heinous (so long as driving is an option anyway.) it's a great opportunity to learn counting (laps, or how many red coats you see, or how many stores have winter-themed window displays). the 7 year old can bring a book (or you can read to him) while the toddler plays on the 'babyish' play things.
and i think the library is a brilliant regular hangout. i had my kids in ours all. the. time. they loved it.
so if you have one walk or trip to the library or museum or feed the ducks at the pond or visit to the nature center per day, and one group activity (build a lego castle) or two individual ones (a board game with each kid), then let them figure out the rest.
they're kids. they'll play. it'll be wonderful.
lots of reading-to-them goes without saying.
it's YOUR loneliness that concerns me more. it's hard to volunteer or join a book club or get civically involved when you've got kids this age, but at least look into it.
why does a play date involve money? work on developing a mini network of nearby moms whom you can call and say 'my kids and i can't stand to look at each other's faces for one more morning. don't you want to go shopping alone and leave yours with me for two hours? or come over yourself and have a cup of coffee while they play?'
and everyone reciprocates.
these are super-precious years. don't over-schedule 'em, hon. if you can figure out how to make YOU happy, your kids will be too.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

It is hard filling those afternoon hours if you're not armed with some good ideas (of which you have received many already). If there is a time when money isn't as tight, I recommend investing in a set of Magnatiles for those cold, winter days. My 6.5, 4.5, and just-turned-two year old, can build with them for an impressive amount of time. It is hands-down the number one toy in our house that reaches the widest age span.

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answers from Chicago on

I think just 30 minutes outside does everyone good! If you can go longer even better! The more you move the warmer you are....that itself is motivation to keep moving!

When my kids were younger I used to keep a snow day/ sick day bag.
I only took it out when we had snow days (multiple) or sick days (for siblings too).

This is stuff I picked up on clearance, dollar bins, extra goodies from parties, etc throughout the year. It was so helpful!

While you are at the library see if they have the book "Unplugged Play" by Bobbi Connor. It is a whole book dedicated to creative playing ideas for kids 1-10 years of age. It got me through a lot of winters when my kids were young.

I also agree with the other moms about connecting with a larger mom network. I was in one and we would rotate hosting play dates. We just had four moms and would get together 2-4x a month. No money required unless you wanted to put out snacks......

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I never did playdates involving money. We just have kids here.

That way, mom can stop and chat for a few minutes (nice way to break up day) or you can invite in for cup of coffee.

I find having kids in the house really fun.

Have a camp out afternoon. Transform your living room into fort (sheet over couch and chair). Give kids blankets for bedding, flashlight, they bring their stuffies, have a picnic type snack ... they can watch a movie on their fort beds.

We did art at our house. I just stuck paper out and let them go to it. Or make up a batch of play dough (I have easy recipe) and just use a bunch of different colors. Give them kitchen utensils so they can set up a restaurant. Seven year old can be the server, etc. She can make up a menu.

For outings, I used to just do errands and stop at a coffee donut shop place on way home and they got a treat. My mom did same with us.

Do your kids like to swim? How about swimming one afternoon? Usually not that expensive.

Maybe Google kid friendly activities in your area for some ideas.


Ok when I first started having kids over, I worried the kids wouldn't have enough to do. Honestly, just let them have the living room for the afternoon (if your daughter's room is cold or small) and pull out some toys. They will have fun. I have a play dough recipe I can send you if you want. Mine will play for 20 minutes easy with a friend doing it. You do not have to be elaborate - I promise you. You don't have to go all out. Kids will just enjoy playing with your daughter's toys (new to them) and her.
If your daughter has a hard time hosting first time (shy, etc.) then just have maybe one thing on hand (the play dough is great). Or go to Dollar Store and buy a craft to make (but I have never really had to do this, but if you feel better having it on hand, there you go). Even if you stick the TV on for half hour worst case - you're fine. I would start having those. Start with 2 hours and see how it goes. Snack can be cut up apples, cheese, crackers, a muffin, don't go all out. I do crackers some days - if that's all I have. Kids do not care. Honestly.
The moms usually chat and it's a nice break for the day. My basement is partly unfinished. I just use a space heater (too!) and just let the kids have fun. Put them in sneakers if needs be. Kids love going to houses just as much as outings. And far cheaper. Good luck :)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I doubt it is too cold for outdoor play. If the kids are dressed appropriately they can be outside for hours playing in the snow (and I live in one of the coldest places on Earth!). When my kids were younger and money was tight I bought memberships to places like the YMCA, the zoo and the Childrens Museum and spent lots of time visiting those places. When people asked what to buy us for birthdays or Christmas I suggested gift cards I could use towards memberships. The YMCA is especially good. You can put the 7 year old in a program, leave the 2 year old in the child care and you can get a work out. Then you can all go for a swim together.

ETA: I get that not everyone likes to be outdoors in the winter, but it is really important that children get outdoor play every day, regardless of the weather. You need to find a way for your kids to be outside, whether it be you buying yourself some great winter gear, watching the kids play in the fenced yard from just inside the door or putting the kids into a pre-school program that has outdoor playtime. They should get at least 30 minutes a day of fresh air!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Look into a membership at some of those museums. Often a one-year membership pays for itself in a few visits, especially because they often have reciprocal arrangements with other museums. They often have programs for your older child, and you can leave him in a mini-class and take the baby off to another area. (Or go with a grandparent if you can and split up as needed.) The nice thing about a membership is that you don't feel you've wasted the admission cost if the little one gets pooped out in an hour or two, and you don't have the problem of the library pass being checked out by another family. We got a grandparent membership that let different adults take the kids.

Can you team up with another mom with kids roughly in your children's age ranges? You can go to a location together, or you can trade off kids, with one taking the older ones and the other keeping the younger ones in another section of the same venue. That works at the library (a lot of older kids like playing on the computers while the younger ones are in the blocks and puppet area.

Put up a folding table with blankets and have them build forts (the older one does the "construction" and the younger one can hang out inside.

If you have any snow, you can all go sledding at the local golf course or a hill at one of the schools for free. You can watch the older one sled while you take the younger one on a safer slope. If the little one gets cold, sometimes you can sit in the car and warm up and have a snack while the older one continues to sled within your sight.

Go down to the high school track and have the older one ride a bike or roller blade (check and see what's allowed) while you do laps with the younger one in a stroller, cheering for big sibling to go fast. Get another parent to go with you for conversation, and wear out all the kids! You can wear out the younger kids so they nap well (if you go in the morning) and then the older ones can have some sit-down calm time with a movie and popcorn - put an old sheet out on the family room carpet and call it a picnic, and let them eat in front of the TV or play a board game. Board games build skills in counting, matching, decision-making and cooperation, besides just passing the time. Get a book at the library on "old-fashioned" card games and party games - the kids will be fascinated because they've often never played things that aren't electronic!

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answers from Danville on

I absolutely agree with so many suggestions below!

I also have to give a thumbs up for the appliance box suggestion. It gives me wonderful memories of kiddos and puppet theatres...toll and fast food stops and more.

There are a couple of books that your library may have (they are old books, as *I* am old). One is "Teachables from Trashables". It contains many suggestions for using recyclables from home for interesting projects, games etc..and NO $$ out of pocket!

The other book (or books, as I think there are a few) is called "New Games". It takes some traditional 'games' and gives them a bit of a new spin if looking for older kiddo activities.

Some times the 'oldies' are 'goodies'!

Best luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

My first thought was a mom's group. When my kids were younger I belonged to one and people would take turns hosting play dates at their home. Some people thought nothing of it so it's not like you would be pressured to host. They also planned other outings which you could determine whether they fit your budget.

The library is a wonderful resource so don't discount their numerous resources.

Does your area have any low cost indoor play spaces or a "toy lending library"?

During the holidays you could suggest museum memberships to relatives. You'll get a lot of mileage out of those.

While trying to remember the name of the one local indoor play space, I was looking at a website that is a wealth of information for Pittsburgh. It had a few articles addressing this exact question. While the locations are in Pittsburgh, I'm hoping that the suggestions will help you to find similar resources in your area.

Here's the entire website to explore...

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answers from Portland on

I would put out some activities which both your kids can do to their own abilities. Watercolor paints (make sure you have two sets so the little one doesn't smear up the elder's kit). Get into your baking cupboard and have your kids help you make up some play-doh, or do a baking project. (Something simple that they can help with : your big one can measure the ingredients, the little one can dump them in and do some stirring.) My son who is 8 and a friend of the same age spent about an hour outside a few weeks ago, just playing with ice, so consider that as a fun thing to do. Your big girl can make 'ice sculptures' (food coloring, glitter, trinkets, etc frozen in the water), freeze them off, and then put them in a pan of water or a dishpan for she and the little one to play with.

I'm a big fan of open-ended projects. Use magazines to find pictures your kids like, having yourself and your big kid cut them out and let your little one help tape them onto paper. (You can keep it cheap, just take a paper bag, cut off the bottom and cut down one side: voila, instant poster paper.) Let the kids mix white paint with different pigments and paint paper, then when it's dry, cut out 'easter eggs' and let them do something with those. Also, just let your kids look through the recycling-- the boxes, paper, and other items can inspire plenty of ideas.

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answers from Orlando on

Check out mom groups or moms of toddlers, etc.. I am sure there are other parents out there just like you.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

I think it's very hard to try and make both kids do the same things. That 7 year old is about a year away from doing anything like your asking. When they become a tween they just don't want to play with little siblings. They want to go do stuff with their friends.

The 7 year old should be able to invite their school friends over to play, no cost involved. The little one should NOT be in there playing with them either. That's not fair to the older child.

Plus your 2 year old shouldn't even be playing with the same toys. Until age 3 many toys are off limits due to choke hazard. Barbie shoes can choke a child to death. Hot wheels cars can break and a tire or door can choke a kiddo too. The 7 year old needs their own toys and play space for their own age appropriate toys.

So I'd do play dates. If you don't want them at your home then meet them at the mall place and have something specific for the older kids to do. These kids should be reciprocating too. So the older girl could be gone quite a bit and then have company to keep her busy.

Then let the little one run free. Post on a local FB page to see what other parents are doing. See if anyone has a little kiddo play group that meets somewhere each week. Ours meets at McDonald's play ground twice each week. They allow them to have it and acknowledge that every family will not order food. Getting something as simple as a dollar drink then you can refill it is enough. A dollar a week isn't a lot to put back on payday to save your sanity.

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