We live in a two bedroom apartment. I have two sweet children and I stay home with them all the dang time. I often think of God’s design when it comes to parenthood. I think He was being gentle with us by giving us babies to start with. Their physical needs seem overwhelming, but their emotional needs are easy and straight forward. Fed, clean, and well rested are pretty much the only requirements for a happy baby. However, a few years down the road those three things just aren’t enough anymore! Having a new born baby and a 3.5 year old seemed so overwhelming to me I basically cried my entire way through the first day home alone with the two of them. There are some things that I have learned to plan (which totally goes against my seat-of-my-pants personality) to make my days better. Not just for me and my agenda, but for my daughters as well. Here are a few practical ideas for keeping your kiddies entertained all the day long:
1. Head to your local library.
We are blessed as heck to live in an incredible little community with the cutest library ever. It’s literally half a block from our apartment and has a huge children’s section (it is for real half the size of the library). I strap the baby to me and away we go. I always end up with two book bags over filled and it takes me forever to get home, but it is so worth it. I usually plan for at least an hour there since my oldest daughter never wants to leave. They have a toy train set, a full kitchen set, puzzles, coloring pages, you name it. While she plays near me, I fill our bags up with picture books. Fun, indoors, and free.
2. Plan some Crafts.
This is coming from someone who is not crafty at all. Bringing another kid into our family meant I needed to figure out some things my oldest could do independently from me. Crafts are great because with a little planning before, you can keep your kids busy and happy for a good chunk of time. Pinterest has a thousand and a half ideas for this. Some of our favorites have been these fishy hands, Valentine’s day tree, and these paper plate flowers.
3. Help with Chores.
This might completely depend on your children, but my daughter loves to help me with my chores. She helps me with vacuuming, rinsing dishes off, laundry, dusting, and making her bed. It definitely takes me 500% times longer to get my chores done, but who cares? I’m spending time with my daughter while teaching her practical life skills. I should also note that my daughter does not get an allowance, she gets paid for the work that she does. I’m a big Dave Ramsey fan, and so we have been doing Financial Peace Junior with her at the ripe old age of 4. She earns commission on all her chores that are not her personal responsibility. Out of the short list above the only thing she doesn’t get paid for is making her bed. Obviously as she gets older some of this will change.
4. Go to the park.
We live just a short walk from a really nice park with a splash pad and everything. Where we live it gets hot so we usually only plan to be there for a short amount of time because it wears my daughter out. I love getting outside in the summer, even if it’s scorching out because I want that vitamin D!
5. Chalk on the sidewalk
Going hand in hand with going to the park is coloring on the sidewalk! I think most people enjoy the public art and my daughter loves coloring pictures, writing her name, and saying “Hi!” to everyone who walks past.
6. Read out loud
One of my goals is to read 20 minutes at least a day to my daughters. That’s part of the reason why I love the library so much-we get a ton of new books to check out for free! As soon as we come home I pull out a big stack and read as many as I can before my daughters can’t stand it any more. One thing to keep in mind is that just because your little one isn’t sitting perfectly still on your lap doesn’t mean they aren’t soaking in the books you are reading. I let my oldest roll around, crawl on me, turn the pages, whatever she needs to do so that she stays interested in what I’m reading.
What are some free or cheap things you do with your little ones during the day? I’d love to hear some new ideas to add to our list!