I currently have two little toddler daughters – ages 3 and 21 months – and am constantly trying to keep us all busy so the girls stay active and get tired out and so I don’t lose my mind, haha. I thought it’d be fun to take a peek into our lives and see what we’re up to this summer!
I have a few friends with toddler-aged kids as well, but they sometimes prefer to visit children’s museums or the discovery place and other expensive places like that. While I’m not completely against those places and will visit on occasion, I do prefer to stick to the free forms of toddler entertainment (my little ones seem to love the library just as much as the children’s museum, anyways).
FREE Summer Activities for Toddlers
My daughters are in daycare on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings. They’re with me on Tuesdays and Fridays, and of course, on the weekends. Typically, we do an activity in the morning (this could be anything from meeting friends at the park to running errands), followed by lunch and then naps. We don’t normally do anything in the evenings other than play at home. Between traffic, dinnertime and my husband getting home, there’s not too much time for a full-fledged activity.
Here are some of the things we’ve been doing (or what to do) to keep busy!
Visit the neighborhood pool
When living in Arizona, there were no “neighborhood pools,” at least not in the neighborhoods I lived in. It was more common for people to have a swimming pool in their backyard, which is fun but not quite the social event. In North Carolina, most of the neighborhoods have community pools with separate toddler swimming pools. My neighborhood has this and we LOVE it! We walk down to the pool and I let the girls play for 1-2 hours before coming back home for lunch. It tires them out, I get a quick workout in and it doesn’t cost a dime (not even any gas since we walk).
Go to splash pads
I actually haven’t seen too many of these in NC other than in neighborhoods, but AZ had them all over the place and we took full advantage! Splash pads are great because you don’t have to worry about floaties or your child “falling in.”
Visit beautiful parks
If I’d have known how many gorgeous parks NC had, I’d have moved here a lot sooner. Just about all of the parks that we visit have huge lakes surrounding them with ducks and walking trails. Then, of course, there are playgrounds and swings for the little ones. Summer weather is sometimes too hot for parks, but in NC there are usually a good amount of days where you can still take advantage of them. We love going to the park early Sunday mornings and sometimes in the evening after my husband is home from work.
Go to the library
We have about 4 libraries within close driving distance of us, all offering their own story times and unique play areas. We try to go to story time once a week and then I let the girls play afterwards for 30 min to one hour. I either bring a book or find a new one to read while I watch them play.
Turn on music and bake or cook
My 3-year-old is very interested in cooking and baking and is mommy’s little helper! Oftentimes in the afternoons you can find us jamming out to Pandora while making dinner or whipping up a delicious treat! The girls love helping me and they also love listening to and dancing to the music.
Work on something educational
Even though my girls are young, I love helping them learn new things. Lately, we’ve been working on our puzzles (including shapes, numbers and letters) in our playroom. My 3-year-old is a whiz at the ABC’s (she’s known them AND has been able to do the puzzle since she was 19 months!), so together we try and teach my younger one. Right now, I’m also working with my oldest on writing the alphabet and sounding out letters.
We almost always go outside after nap time for some chalk drawing and bike riding. I made a sandbox for the girls out of a storage container from Walmart that keeps them pretty occupied. If the weather is nice, we’ll stay out there for hours! We live in a cul de sac which is wonderful when you have little kids. There’s no traffic and the girls can ride their bikes freely without me having to follow their every step.
Give them chores
I’m a clean freak, so lately whenever I’ve been cleaning I’ll give both the girls a damp rag and have them clean various things around the house (their cribs, the railings that go across our entire second floor, the dining room chairs, etc.). You would think they would get bored with this, but it actually keeps them busy for a good 30 minutes. Other chores they help out with (yes, even my 21-month-old!) include putting away their laundry, helping unload the dishwasher and putting away all of their toys. A clean home is a happy home, haha.
HAVE A PLAN!!
This is probably my biggest piece of advice when handling little ones – make a plan!! I’ve noticed on the days that I’m irritated with the girls, it’s usually because I didn’t have a plan and we’re all sitting around doing nothing. Even if our plan is to stay home and play in the playroom, knowing that in advance allows me to prepare for it and set aside all of my other responsibilities. I’m a MUCH better mom and incredibly more patient when we’re doing something together, rather than all going in separate directions.
As a note, one thing that has helped me tremendously with both parenting and time management has been Crystal Paine’s (from Money Saving Mom) new course “Make Over Your Mornings.” If you wake up frazzled, to kids screaming and needing your attention, and already feel behind on your day before it has even begun, this course is for you!! My new morning routine gives me time for myself, allows me to drink my coffee in peace and best of all it allows me to prepare for my day. Now, when my girls wake up in the morning, I am so excited to see them and get our day started together! Even my husband has noticed a difference in my attitude since starting this course.
If you’re interested in trying it for yourself, I encourage you to go for it! Whether you work full-time, are a stay-at-home mom or are a work-from-home mom like myself, this course can benefit you. I’d love to chat about it, so feel free to email me if you end up purchasing it!!