Whether you’re checking off your to-do list or just trying to put your feet up and relax, curious and energetic children can often throw a wrench into your plans.
From toddlers to teens, kids like to be active and entertained and often need some help figuring out what to do when stuck at home. With a little planning and imagination, you can give your child a dedicated space filled with things for kids to do so they’ll want to spend time on their own.
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Fun Ways to Keep Your Toddler Entertained
One of the most precious times of a child’s life, the toddler stage presents several opportunities and challenges for parents. Entertaining younger children can feel like a full-time job all by itself, especially once they start walking, throwing things, and using stairs.
When coming up with activities or creative games to keep your toddler focused and entertained, it’s important to keep these evolving skills in mind. Active playtime helps them build and develop strength and coordination, and it can also help tire them out, so they’re less likely to come running to you every ten minutes for something to do.
A few physical activities you can have your toddler do on their own are:
- Animal Walk – Let your child pretend that they are their favorite animal. They can walk on all fours like kittens, hop around like a bunny, or even slither like a snake.
- Soccer Practice – An enjoyable game you can set up in their playroom or the hall outside your office, kicking a ball promotes coordination and physical activity. You can create a makeshift goal on a wall with tape or set up a cardboard box to take it to the next level.
- Obstacle Course – Whether you plan it out in their bedroom or the living room, designing a fun-filled obstacle course can provide hours of fun. Have your toddler crawl under tables, over beds, through large boxes, and jump from pillow to pillow along the floor.
Giving Toddlers a Safe Space to Play
If you have an extra bedroom in your home, turning it into a child-proof play area gives them privacy and helps foster a sense of independence. When designing their space, it’s important to focus on safety, functionality, and creativity. Toddler playroom ideas include:
- Arts & Crafts – Spark their creativity with a table and chair set dedicated to painting and coloring. This setup helps kids develop fine motor skills and keeps them focused for hours so you can concentrate on what you need to do. Make a list of kids crafts to do when bored, and let them try finger painting, stenciling, or coloring with pencils and markers.
- Create a Dedicated Reading Area – Set up a cozy chair or beanbag in the corner of the room with a bookshelf filled with their favorite books. Reading is a wonderful activity for kids to do instead of watching television or being on a tablet.
- Incorporate a Chalkboard or Wall – Instead of giving them crayons and paper, why not give them chalk? Chalkboards allow children to express themselves, and since the chalk isn’t permanent, you won’t have to worry about stains and marks on your floors and walls.
In addition to allowing your child to explore their sense of self, playrooms create a buffer between you and your little ones. Having them engaged and active down the hall or even a room away lets you concentrate on work or self-care while they remain safe, happy, and engaged.
How to Entertain an Older Child
Coming up with activities for kids at home when you’re trying to work can be a struggle, especially when they get a little older. They’re past toddler and preschool age, but they aren’t quite a tween or teen just yet. Kids at this age will need more complex plans to keep them busy. A few activities you can give your child are:
- Have a Scavenger Hunt – Create a list of items that you’ve hidden around the house for your kid to find. Items can range from everyday household objects like TV remotes or kitchen tools, and hunts can incorporate more complex clues with codes or riddles to solve.
- Create an Indoor Campsite – Space the furniture out in the living room and set up a tent. Toss in some comfy pillows and cozy blankets to create a warm, snuggly vibe. To make it feel like real camping, give the kids a couple of flashlights, stuffed animals, and binoculars.
- Let Them Have a Fashion Show – Set up a runway in the family room where your child can play dress up and choreograph their very own fashion show. They can use their own clothes, play costumes, and even some of your old shirts and dresses to make it feel more imaginative.
Designing a Play Area for School-Aged Children
While many kids this age will have rooms of their own, it’s still important that they have a place to be creative and have fun.
Whether you create a quiet corner in a room or rearrange the furniture to allow for more surface area on the floor, there are a few items you can pick up to help keep them occupied so you can be more productive at work.
- Shelving Units or Cubbies – These storage essentials help kids organize art supplies, building blocks, toys, and any other items they enjoy playing with. They can play, paint, and have a blast while you’re focusing on your own tasks. When it’s time to clean up, they’ll have a system to keep everything neat.
- Karaoke Machine – Great for creative types, a karaoke machine allows kids to sing along to their favorite songs for hours, giving you plenty of uninterrupted time to yourself. To add a little exercise, encourage kids to invent a dance routine to go with each song.
- Herb Garden – Putting an herb garden in your child’s room gives them some responsibility and allows them to learn about different types of herbs and plants, which can be lots of fun for kids. You can find various age-appropriate easy-care plants that they can keep near a window that lets in plenty of light.
When trying to come up with ideas for activities for kids at home, it’s important to remember that they’re a little more independent at this stage.
They like a challenge, both creatively and intellectually, and their personal space — whatever it may look like — should reflect those desires.
Entertaining Your Teenager
While most teens look to spread their wings and enter a new phase of independence at this part of their lives, they still like entertainment.
Your teens will no doubt have their own interests and passions by now. Here are a few general ideas to keep your child engaged while you check off your to-do list.
- Baking – At this age, your children are most likely able to operate a stove by themselves. They can take this opportunity to practice baking cakes or cookies. And, when you’re all done with work, you both can enjoy a fresh batch of sweet treats.
- Have a “Me” Day – Adolescence can be a stressful time. A good option to keep your teens busy and help them relieve stress is to take a personal day. They can make bath bombs, paint their nails, journal, or play music to relax and recharge their batteries.
- Learn a New Skill – With older teenagers heading off to college in a year or two, this is the perfect time to learn useful, practical skills. Have them do a load of laundry, learn to use an iron, or practice budgeting in preparation for their first job.
Fun Things to put in a Teen’s Bedroom
With the range of likes and tastes that teenagers have, it may initially seem difficult to find engaging products and furniture to put in their room.
Teen bedrooms are a place for them to explore who they are as people while also acting as social hubs so they can spend time hanging out with friends. When stuck at home, teens need something to occupy their time. A few items that can help prevent boredom are:
- Dream Boards – Dream boards, or vision boards, are a smart way for your child to inspire themselves daily. Encourage them to cut out pictures and quotes from magazines or pin up articles about potential careers and colleges. Have them start a bucket list of things they want to do before leaving the nest.
- Futons – Comfortable and functional, futons easily convert between sofa and bed depending on your teen’s needs. Whether they want a place to watch movies or are more interested in setting up a teen game room to spend time with friends, futons are a great place for your teenager to relax while you’re busy.
- Yoga Mats – Yoga mats have multiple benefits. Besides providing a place for your child to get exercise, your teen can use these tools to practice mindfulness meditation. By the time you’ve finished your tasks, your teen can be rested and ready for the next part of their day.
Giving your teen a variety of things to do in their rooms not only gives you time to yourself, but it provides your child with an opportunity to figure out who they are as people.
When creating their space, keep their interests in mind, so spending time on their own is something they can look forward to.
Keep them entertained doesn’t have to be stressful or overcomplicated. These ideas can keep all kids busy no matter the age.
Hazel Bennett is a freelance writer and blogger. She has a degree in communications and lives in Northeastern Ohio. Hazel loves writing about numerous topics and showcasing her expertise with words. >> hazelbennettblog.contently.com
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