“The days are long but the years are short.”
We’ve all heard this saying. And no truer words have ever been spoken when you’re talking about life with a toddler. Whether you have the occasional day at home with your little ones, or you are home allll the days with them, we all could use some fun ideas to keep them busy now and again. Here are some of our favorite, easy, budget-friendly activities to do during the warmer months.
So… we don’t have a pool. BUT, on warm sunny days my son and I like to put our bathing suits on, fill up the baby pool, water table, and splash pad, and spend the day outside. He gets to splash around and play and I get to catch up on some yard work (and work on my tan)! We sometimes eat lunch outside and ALWAYS have a popsicle (or two). You can even make your own with a simple popsicle mold and some leftover fruit. This is a great way to soak in those precious summer days. And no toddler sleeps better than one who was out playing in the sun all day.
When the weather is nice, I will put my son in the stroller with a snack, leash up the dogs, and we will go for a good long walk. It’s good exercise for the dogs and if you time it right, it’s a great way for babies or toddlers to “wind down” before bed time or a nap. Most days, my son and I will also take a short walk around our neighborhood (sans stroller). He loves to explore and I love to find ways to kill time while being outdoors.
I know what you’re thinking. Who has time to set up an elaborate sensory tray filled with things your children will likely put in their mouths or pour out all over your floors? Sensory bins that take more time time to set up and clean up than my toddler will actually spend playing with is a hard no for me. BUT hear me out. Sensory play can look a lot of different ways and is the perfect outdoor activity.
I have an inexpensive bin and I will fill it with various items (kinetic sand, water beads, Play-Doh, pom-poms, and fake rocks or gemstones). My son will play for a good half hour with a bin full of kinetic sand, dump trucks, and fake rocks. This is the perfect activity for them to do while you’re making dinner.
One activity that we tried recently and loved is a 3-ingredient DIY chalk paint I saw on the Instagram account, Mothercould. It was quick, easy, and FREE, and it kept my active 2-year-old busy for a while.
This Instagram account has TONS of ideas for easy fun activities for little ones, so be sure to check it out!
Toddlers love to “help” with different things around the house. My son has so much fun helping me mop the floors, dust, and switch laundry. As much as I love the summer months, it definitely comes with more added “chores.” Along with all the other stuff that needs to get done, the grass now needs to be mowed, the flowers watered, and the weeds pulled. Include your kids in some of the more simple yard chores like pulling weeds and watering plants.
Last summer, my son and I planted a small garden just for him. I helped him fill the pots with dirt, plant the tomato plants, and then each day I would help him water “his” garden. He got such a kick out of having his own garden and when the tomatoes were ready, really enjoyed the fruits of his labor!
Visit Your Local Parks and Zoos
My son and I go to the Toledo Zoo every week for the toddler Stroller Safari class and it is a great way for my son to get out of the house and socialize with kids his age. Whether you do the class or not, I highly recommend visiting our local zoo as much as you can! There is so much to see and do there for little ones. Obviously, you have the animals, but there is also a petting zoo, playgrounds, splash pad, and an air conditioned aquarium for when you need a break from the heat! We definitely get our money’s worth out of our yearly zoo membership and it’s one of our favorite places in the summer.
The Toledo area is saturated with amazing metroparks and playgrounds. One of my goals for this summer is to visit a local park and playground weekly with my son. He loves running around with the other kids and I love when he burns off some of that endless toddler energy! This is also a great way to get together with mama friends. No one has to feel obligated to clean their house and cook for guests, but you can still get together and chat while the kids play. It’s a win-win!
What about the Rainy Days?
It’s gotta rain sometime, and what better way to spend a rainy day than to make a fort out of couch cushions and blankets! Build the fort, turn on your child’s favorite Disney movie, and make a snack board for lunch. After all, everything is more fun in a fort.
I recently hit up my local craft store and stocked up on a few fun activities I thought my son would enjoy and I stashed them away for a rainy day. They have things for any age. Things like, paint-your-own birdhouses, garden stones, suncatchers, sticker books, friendship bracelets, origami, puzzles, and more!
Summers in Northwest Ohio are fleeting, and so is childhood. I hope all you mamas get some much-needed fresh air, sunshine, and fun quality time with your little ones these next few months!