At this time of year, many of you who have small children find it difficult to complete your holiday projects, like decorating, baking, and, of course, wrapping those Santa gifts. Having [pretty much successfully] raised three girls of my own, I thought I’d share some of the ways I found to amuse my kids, without having to spend a lot of money to do so.
(Bear in mind, that I never had sons, so I have no experience with entertaining [little] boys.)
The Waterfall. We had a high chair with one of those large trays with built-up sides. I used to place the high chair on a large plastic tarp and then give my toddler various plastic bowls and plastic glasses filled with water, to which I would add just a drop or two of food coloring. The baby had great fun pouring one container into another and mixing up all the colors. For extra entertainment, I would give her some plastic or wooden spoons for stirring (just like Mommy does while she cooks). It was nice clean fun (washing built right into play!), and if she drank some of the water, so what – it was just diluted food coloring.
A Different Drummer. I got this idea from my own mother. Take all the pots and pans out of the cupboard (but no glass lids, please), place them on the floor, and give the child a wooden spoon. You might want to wear earplugs for awhile, and of course, you’ll have to wash all those pots and pans afterwards, but it’s totally worth it. (If you’re brave enough to increase the chaos, add some plastic bowls and plates, and maybe some paper bags.)
Stuck Up. I discovered this by accident. My 2-yearold had a large plastic Smurf coin bank. I was doing something (I can’t recall what) that required use of masking tape, so I gave a tiny piece to my daughter, and she immediately stuck it to the Smurf bank. She was so proud of her handiwork that I gave her a second piece of tape. An hour later, we had a Smurf bank with something like 6 inches of masking tape on top, and a very happy little girl.
The Hidey Hole. My aunt came up with this when I was little. Take two kitchen chairs and lay them flat on the floor with the legs of one touching the legs of the other. Place a blanket over the whole thing. Voilà! Instant tent! I loved it. (The only drawback is that you have to pretend that you really don’t know where the kid is, and have to periodically call out, “Where’s [CookieCakes]? I can’t find her!”
Mommy Me. One year, Christmas was fast approaching, and I had absolutely no excess cash. In desperation, I took an old gym bag and filled it with my own “outgrown” clothes and discarded jewelry. I solicited donations of clothing and such from my co-workers, and received so much that I actually had to add a second bag (a discarded diaper bag). My girls loved it! Those satchels became the go-to bags for dress-up, tea-parties with the stuffed animals, and of course, Halloween.
Power’s Out But Not the Fun. During Buffalo, NY’s October surprise storm in 2006 [not to be confused with our recent Snowvember Storm] we were without electricity for 10 days. We were able to light the gas stove burners, so we could cook, but everything had to be done by candlelight – and of course, there was no TV! You haven’t lived until you’ve played Scrabble by candlelight and toasted marshmallows over a candle’s flame – yum!
I’m sure many of you have your own favorite ways of entertaining offspring. Feel free to share in the comments below – you might be saving some poor tantruming toddler from being thrown out into the snow.