Want play ideas for toddlers you can do after work? These fun activities offer quality time with your child during after work hours. With a free printable!
For many working moms, time after work is pretty limited. We may only have an hour or so to play before we need to cook dinner or pack for the next day. And while we may have a routine of go-to activities, sometimes it’s nice to mix things up as well.
I know when I’m not conscious of the activities my kids play, we can get stuck in a rut. I’ll find my twins playing with the same set of cars and my eldest parked at his art table as usual. It’s almost like they forgot all the other toys and activities at their disposal.
And for the most part, that’s okay. Kids should learn how to cope with boredom, and I’m a big fan of downtime. But sometimes you just want to have ideas on hand when you’re looking to mix things up.
Those after work hours can be extra tricky, too. You don’t exactly have hours to spend on an outing, you’re coming home from a long day yourself (as may your kids as well), and you’re competing with chores and tasks that can take up your time.
20 play ideas for toddlers
So I compiled a list of 20 activities your kids can do, especially toddlers and preschoolers. To make it even more convenient, I created a free printable with all these 20 ideas (plus a blank template to fill in with your own ideas). Download it below:
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#1: Put together a puzzle
Are your puzzles stored in the linen cabinet like ours are? They’re so easy to forget, but fun for the kids to do once we bring them out. Puzzles lend themselves well for after work because they have a definite end time.
These are the puzzles we’ve played with:
#2: Visit your local park
One of my go-to activities is visiting the local park, especially after dinner. It’s walking distance, so it’s a quick enough visit to squeeze in either before or after dinner (depending on how dark it gets). Plus it’s a great way to burn off excess energy they likely accumulate by that time of the day.
#3: Play with kinetic sand
I learned about kinetic sand a few years ago when my sister-in-law gave it to my kiddo for the holidays. It’s not as messy as playing with real sand, making it more manageable for that brief after work time frame.
#4: Ride the train at the mall
Going to the mall to run an errand and including a kiddie train ride would be perfect for after work. The train rides are usually quick and, for a few bucks, gives your child something fun to do outside the home.
#5: Play with Lego
Lego blocks are a constant toy in our home. We have the jumbo set that allows our young kids to play with them safely. Bring these out from time to time if you have them stored! This one is perfect for the younger kids:
#6: Play with trains
My kids are into train sets and can spend a long time building tracks and riding the tiny trains on them. They’ve played with trains like these:
#7: Pretend cooking
One of the best presents we gave our kids is a pretend cooking table. We placed this in our kitchen as well, so they like to pretend they’re cooking while we are. For the after work hours, this can be a fun way to keep them occupied while getting their real dinner ready.
Then we filled it with pretend cooking utensils (these in particular are also eco-friendly):
#8: Play in the backyard or patio
Our patio works is a fantastic space for my kids to get outdoor time while still keeping them in our home. A backyard is another great option if you have one.
#9: Make banana bread
Banana bread is one of the easiest baking activities to make. Many recipes don’t even call for a mixer! Plus your little one will enjoy smashing bananas and helping you make the yummy treat. Best of all, you now have an after dinner treat on hand.
This one from Simply Recipes is my go-to banana bread recipe (I also like to include walnuts).
#10: Help with chores
Take advantage while your kids are young and willing! After work hours lend themselves well to having your little one help with chores. Stick to simple tasks (I list 10 easy ones for toddlers to do here).
You’re teaching valuable life skills, spending time with your child and getting things done.
#11: Water plants
Also a chore, watering plants is a fun activity for your toddler to do. So simple, but so intriguing nonetheless. Stick to low, floor plants, or move the plants within their reach. We have this small watering can perfect for toddler hands:
One of my favorite past times with my eldest was our early evening walk around the block. He loved to pick up leaves or push the sprinklers down. He’d find stairs to climb and fountains to watch. And we’d take home flowers and pine cones of all sizes.
#13: Read books
I go to the library every week, so the afternoons when I bring books home turn into reading sessions. I’ll lay out the books we borrowed and let them flip through and read with them. You can even make an evening out of books by borrowing those from the same author. For instance, you might have a Dr. Seuss night, or a Sandra Boynton night.
#14: Go to the library
Many libraries host early evening activities, such as bedtime stories or read aloud functions. Even without these events, going to the library after work can be a fun activity instead of heading straight home.
Read books and let your child play with the library toys. You can also select a few to borrow and read later that night. The library can be a welcome change to your evening routine.
#15: Coloring books
Go to Target and pick up a few coloring books suitable for your toddler, then let him go to town with the pages! If you’re like me, you also like to color alongside your kids. This can be a fun activity for both of you to do in the evenings.
#16: Play soccer or kick a ball
One of my twins in particular loves to kick a soccer ball. Whether outside at the park or even indoors, let your child kick a ball around. So simple but so fun, plus a great way to burn all that extra energy before bed.
#17: Do a craft
I’m not the craftiest mom, but I’ll supply my kids with supplies and let their imaginations run wild. And the best crafting I’ve found are the ones where you let your child determine his art. While he should learn to follow instructions, it’s also okay if he wants to create his craft his own way.
#18: Ride on wheels
Our kids love to ride their scooters along the sidewalk or at the park. Here are a few suggestions of scooters and wheels:
#19: Play a board game
We love board games at home! They’re versatile, even for the younger kids. You can always disregard the rules and let them make up their own. A few we’ve played with include Zingo, Chutes and Ladders, Connect Four, Sorry and Hungry Hippo.
#20: Your hobbies
One mistake we parents make is assume our lives should always revolve around the kids. Not true at all! You can incorporate your hobbies into your evening activities with your kids. Think about activities you enjoy—which ones can you do with your child after work?
If you like gardening, invite your toddler to help and play outdoors in the backyard. Like exercising? Push him in a jogging stroller. Not all our hobbies lend themselves well to evenings spent with toddler, but many can!
I hope you’ve found several ideas to fill your month with play ideas after work. To make it even easier, I created this free printable for you.
The first page are the activities I listed above—check off the boxes of those you’ve tried. The second page is blank, allowing you to customize your sheet with ideas of your own.
Get more tips:
- 8 Cool Science Toys for Kids
- 12 Crafty Ideas for the Non Crafty Mom
- How to Be Awesome at Playing with Your Kids (Even if You Don’t Like It)
- The Benefits of Open Ended Play and How to Encourage It
- How to Encourage Your Child’s Imagination
Tell me in the comments: What are your biggest struggles during the after work hours? What activities do you enjoy doing with your kids?
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