Home "All Day and Evening " Without Hubby to Help with Kids. Suggestions

Updated on September 24, 2011
V.D. asks from Smithfield, UT
19 answers

Simply put I'm a stay at home mommy and my husband is at work and school from before my kids are up to after they go to bed during the week. Makes for a long day. I try to keep busy with fun activities for us to do at home. But there are some days that seem longer than others. I'm trying really hard not to have the tv on more than a hr or two combined time throughout the day for my kids. We run out of things to do some days and free play eventually ends in tears from my 21 month old. Her sister is almost 4 and plays a bit too rough sometimes (working with her on that). Some days when we don't have anywhere to go I just plain run out of ideas to keep the kids happy and entertained. Wish I had a outlet, but I don't. For anyone out there that is in the same boat as me, what things, activities, ideas, sanity savors, tricks do you have that help you stay sane? Or fun, easy things to do with little ones under age 4? Note I love the time with my kids and I know that I'm really lucky to stay home with them and I am grateful. Just some days by the afternoon I've had my share of screaming that I'm really ready for a break that I can't have.

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You ladies are great. So many wonderful ideas for us to try. Thank you.

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answers from Cincinnati on

My husband works to jobs and I often run into a similar problem with my two year old. I love to play with him but I also reconize I am his mom not his entertainer. My son is quite capable of playing by himself for a while I sit down and read or talk on the phone, he has gone down to his room to play by himself since he was 12mnths old.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Try looking up "busy bags" there seems to be a lot of great, cheap or inexpensive ideas for things that you can use to keep the little ones busy. Because these "toys" aren't out all the time, they have lasting power.

My aunt who watches her 2 year old grand daughter tells me that she keeps busy with - giving all her toys a bath, scrubbing vegetables, using the mop, anything to do with water is a big hit for her. Rather than put her at a water table, she channels this inclination into helpful chores.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Dallas on

I suggest you join a gym. We have a family membership to the YMCA. It's fantastic fun for everybody. I get a break from the kids, they get a break from me and get to play with other kids. I get my agressions out during Zumba or kickbox class, and mellow out on the treadmill. My kids absolutely beg to go. We play the little sports too. I put my kids in soccer, basketball, tball. It gives us one practice a week and one game a week, so it's good family fun that we look forward to.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

That's a lot of time that your husband is away--every week?
My husband travels a fair amount, and while my son is older now, I find that what I like about those weeks is the somewhat "relaxed" schedule. It's easier to work around on less person. We just kind of roll with it. And when I feel really at the end of my rope, we pack it up and get out of Dodge--somewhere, anywhere--out for a bite, to the park for an hour or two, etc. Just a change in scenery is good for both of us.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Is this everyday? I sure hope you are getting you time when you can. Have you been able to go the park? Go for a walk? How about Mommy playdates? Library? Mothers group with your church? Before the weather get's bad I would certainly take as much time as I could to be outdoors. Do you bake or cook? Get the kids involved with helping you prepare these items. Also help with the chores? Putting sock in the drawers, new laundry in the washer.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Honestly, I don't think anything is wrong with putting a movie on for the kids that will keep them busy for 2 hours. One or two hours of tv for an ENTIRE day to be with the kids and keep them entertained is very little. I think just throwing in a full length movie may do wonders for your sanity. I hope you get some good ideas to help you. That makes for a long day and I'm a working mom outside the home with older kids or I would probably have some better suggestions! =) Good luck!!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Oh, you hang in there! I know its rough when you are at it alone. I kept a schedule before my son went to preschool. I had him involved in EVERYTHNG but I also emphasized alone time. Everytime I got him started on a project, I'd scurry off to do a quick household chore, like throw a load in the laundry, or dust the lamps. He used to take a 2 hr nap in the morning and a 2 hr nap in the afternoon, but this schedule was after he dropped his morning nap. It helped me keep my sanity and looked something like this:

7am wake up and get dressed
7:30 make bfast (he helped) and eat - I would always have my son help me make wahtever we were eating and he would also help set the table
8 clean up - he would help put dishes in the sink, throw out napkins, I would give him a wipey and he'd wiped down the table and chairs and I would follow him w/a washrag, he'd hold the dustpan if I swept
8:30 read books - each day I had a theme Mon books on animals Tue colors Wed spanish Thur numbers and counting Fri food/body
9 sing songs/play instruments - we would listen to kiddie music or watch sing along kiddie videos and each day would play a different instrument to the songs - spoon & pot, shaker, drum, whistle, recorder, harmonica, etc.
9:30 color - each day we would color on different things - coloring books, plain paper, butcher paper on the floor, chalk on the driveway...and we would use different things each day - crayons, markers, pencils, pens, highlighters
10 snack
10:30 game - board games - I usually made up my own rules for games like Twister, Chutes and ladders, dominoes...befitting for a toddler. Or sometimes we'd just throw dice in the box top, bowl cups down w/a basket ball, etc.
11 art activity (playdhoh, wiki sticks, painting, building blocks or building activities like lincoln logs)
11:30 take a walk or play outside
12 lunch
12:30 clean up
1-3 nap - I NEVER did housework or anything...I would either read a book or sleep, just so I didn't feel like I was drowning in duties and responsibilities and feel trapped at home.
3 snack
3:30 read/sing
4 self play w/ toys - this was a big thing for me. He HAD to learn toplay by himself, esp being an only child
4: self play w/battery toys
4:30 start dinner
5-5:30 eat dinner, this was around the time daddy got home too.

gl. You can do it!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

long walks to the park, picnics, story-time or play-time at the library, long bike rides (if you have a bike trailer) :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Biloxi on

Go to the park

The local children's museum

Join a Mom's group so they can play with other children and you can talk to an adult occasionally :)

For your 4 year old, begin a pre-school curriculum. While she is doing school work, find a quiet activity for your 21 month old.

Take a nature walk - little one in the stroller - point out leaves, and flowers, and birds to your older one. Get her a bird book - she may not be able to read it, but she could match the picture to the local birds

Play the quiet game - I used to play this with my son when I needed a break - whoever stayed quiet the longest got a treat - that meant me also if I won :)

Good Luck
God Bless

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I'm a big advocate of scheduling (to a certain extent if that makes sense). Every morning is X time (could be craft time) followed by outdoor playing followed by lunch and nap or rest time. Then maybe movie/tv time. Then baking/cooking (you give them some stuff to play with or make and you make dinner), followed by reading for X amount of time. having a semi set schedule will help them each day because they know what to expect at each time of the day. Also try to get out of the house...even if it's for an hour or two every day. Anything free (even the mall - walk around), the zoo (if it's free, etc). Do you have any family close by that is home during the day? Try to see if they will be willing to set up a weekly playdate away from your house (their house or have them take your four year old out somewhere) to give you one on one time with you other child.

In the evenings, go to friends houses, even for an hour. Take a nightly walk (assuming you live where you can do this at night). We live in the country so walking at night is not good since people go so fast on our road! Take a drive and play I spy!

Bathtime during the day can be fun, too! Give the kids shaving cream and let them play with it in the water. You can do this sans water in the tub as well. Make your own clay or playdo. Upcycle - find stuff around the house and make art projects or CHristmas presents for family members.

I second the preschool curriculum idea. Have her work on worksheets, activities, books, and even watch a cartoon that is age appropriate.

Maybe try to plan each week around a theme. One week could be leaves and all the activities are about those. Make a collage out of leaves, go pick up leaves and put them in a pile, make leaves out of paper and paint, draw leaves, make some type of leaf cookie, etc.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I hope this isn't every day either...yipes! Anyway, my husband works long hours and although he isn't traveling as much this year, when he goes it's for a week at a time, so it sucks. Plus he has his outlet, he plays rugby, and that entails at least one practice and most of Saturday for his games. So, I'm alone with our kids a lot, they are also almost 2 and 4.

Honestly, I stay sane by leaving the house! Laundry doesn't take priority, nor does cleaning my house, and although I udnerstand this wouldn't work for everyone, it works for us. Of course I do laundry, and I cook every night and I do all the other stuff, and I try and do it in a timely manner, I'm just saying I rarely stress about the cleaning stuff. I have found 2 other SAHMs that I get along with really well. We do a lot of stuff together. Sometimes it's just play at each other's house, sometimes we do craft days, some times we have each other babysit so we can get stuff done, some times we go out to places, etc. Sometimes we do free stuff and sometimes we pay for stuff, it's all relative. Even if you're on a strict budget there is fun stuff to do, you just have to look for it.

I would do some google searches on the computer for web based parenting "magazines" b/c they have a lot of free activities or look in like doctor's offices and stuff for those free ones. I use one a lot called KC Parent (for Kansas City Metropolitan area), but I'm sure there is one for your area! Plus, just going out and playing at the park or going on walks is good for fresh air and energy release.

You can also find good, somewhat inexpensive classes through your park district, especially for the older child. Soccer is big in the fall and I'm sure there is a camp or league available. If Parents Day Out is an option for you, I'd look into that as well. It's awesome for everyone! Your kids get to interact with peers, learn some skills, and you get a break to chill or task, whatever you want! Most places you can do either one day per week or more.

If you are at home, good toys are Play Doh, puzzles, board games, a play kitchen (both of them can use that!!), Little People toys (both my kids love those too), magna doodle, painting and other crafts, baking, etc. I also have a time of day for TV but I let my daughter (my son isn't really into it yet) watch an hour or two of TV/day. Sometimes she wants a movie, other times just different shows and there are days when she doesn't watch TV, although those are usually few.

It is really hard not to go crazy, that's why you need back up! I couldn't survive being a SAHM without my friends!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

special stickers (pull them out only once and a while)
playing in the bathtub. put them both in together.
playing in the sink with bubbles
build a fort with a sheet.
go on a "nature walk" - let them each bring a bucket and pick up "treasures"
play hide and seek - you hide with the young one, and help her find your 4 yea rold.
cut up magazines and glue things together. my 4 year old boy loves to cut up the grocery flyer and imagine that I'm actually going to buy him all the junk food he picks out.
do laundry together. let them really help.

hope that helps.
J. (mom to Charlie - 6, Joey - 4, Rebecca - 2)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

We get out of the house almost every day which seems to help.
I find the kids get along a lot better if they have had an outlet for their energy in the morning.
We have been to every park within a 20minute drive from our home
Catching the bus or train is a huge hit (you can just go in a circle for all they care)
Library story times, book stores, Wal-Mart to buy cat food (make a big deal about caring for your pet and how kind you are to look after the animal - then brush and feed them when you get home)
My favorite purcahse -ever- is a 'Jump-o-line' from Wal-Mart. $70 will get you a good pump, bag of balls and mini jumping castle/cubby house, ball pit
Or a $10 bag of balls in a pack'n'play is a good 30min's fun. The same balls in the bath tub too
dumpster drive at your local Sears for a refrigerator box - angle it on the couch and let the kids crawl up and slide down - best fun and energy buster
Any large box is a good half a days fun - just keep cuting out more doors and windows or paint it, scribble on it, make it into a bus/police car etc
take a bath any time of the day. Even better with a friend (anything that seems novel is a hit)
Garage sales - look for foldable tents, tunnels, mini trampolines, dress up clothes, different bikes, trikes, scooters (usually $5 a bike and $2 a scooter).
Great activity on a Saturday morning - $3 a kid at a yard sale or the dollar store as an end of the week reward for e.g brushing their teeth every day. (plus if the kids pick their toys they tend to get played with me often)
Play dates - someone else's toys is always a winner
throwing rocks in the pond/creek/river
Don't be afraid to ask if you can visit a place or business; I have never had a no - local bus depot, fire station, animal shelter to walk a dog, police stn, retirement home.
take the neighbour's dog for a walk
make a gift for a friend, neighbour - card, painting then deliver it
Have a PJ day - don't get out of your PJs all day, make pancakes and eggs for lunch and have a book reading marathon in mom and dad's bed followed by a nap with mom.
check the local paper and go to everything that is free!!!
and keep asking other parents for ideas. Have fun ! (and insist on daily naps or at least in your room quiet time so you get at least one hr to yourself in the middle of the day - compulsory patience recharger)

Oh an last summer we drove all around town to find construction vechicles then watched them drive back and forth. If your kids are around 2yrs of age that's the best entertainment.



answers from Salt Lake City on

Here are some things I do with my 4 year old and your 21 month old could do some of it too.
playing on playhousedisney.com or nickjr.com?
Playdoh letters-I print off worksheets from free online sources and laminate them
baking or playing in the kitchen
going for a walk and collecting things to glue on a wreath-I buy wreaths from the $1.00 store. I will pull off the old stuff when we make a new wreath and reuse it later.
Does your mall have a play area? We like to go there and then just walk around the mall looking at all the different colors and shapes in the store windows.
We go to the park a lot.
I hope these help you.



answers from Denver on

I can totally relate. My husband and I share a car, so I will work in the mornings and my husband works at night. In the evenings, before and after dinner, I run out of ideas on play stuff to do. We got a Webkinz for our daughter (4 years old) and will let her play that on the computer for a little bit each day if she wants. We also take a lot of walk, either with the stroller or wagon or just around the block so they can let out some energy. We go to parks a lot, and also the Apex Center in Wheatridge (72nd and Ward area) is great. They have an indoor free playplace. We take the kids there a lot to play. It doesn't cost anything and the kids can play as long as they want. Good luck!!



answers from Washington DC on

Maybe seek out a Moms Club in your area and look for Moms available for evening playdates and maybe a glass of wine :) Also, see if you can get a mother's helper, like an older teen or college student, one afternoon or evening a week so you can get a break.

My husband travels a lot, but at least I can look forward to him getting home after 10 days or so. So I really sympathize.

Dont' beat yourself up, don't try to be superMOM. Be honest with your kids about when you need a couple hours to yourself, and turn on the tv for them. It is unfair for you to be perfect for 12 hours or more per day.



answers from Casper on

I was in the same situation. We never kept schedules, except for library story times (twice weekly) and pre-school when they were old enough. Luckily, my kids learned to entertain themselves indoors and out. It's good that you want to limit TV time, but television is not necessarily your enemy. Like someone said, a movie once in a while is not going to turn anyone's brain to mush.



answers from Boise on

During days like that, I will take the kids on a walk. You don't have to go far, just outside and around the block. But they will love being outside and you can relax as you walk with them.
Other suggestion is to get a babysitter. Chances are there are moms around you that would love to trade babysitting to get out of the house. Please don't feel guilty about leaving your kids, it sounds like you are doing a great job at being a mom. A little break goes a long way and helps you keep up the good work!



answers from Denver on

My kids love to play in the bathtub for extended periods. I usually sit just outside the door and read a book :-) Also, hanging out in the kids section of the library is always a time eating activity. Books on CD and kids music to dance around. Play-doh or clay always takes up a chunk of time. A nightly walk around then neighborhood. Oh, and wikki sticks can take up a lot of time.
Hang in there!!

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