Interested in activities for infants and toddlers, but struggling to find time? Discover how to easily incorporate learning activities into your day.
Before the twins were born, I could easily devote all my time to my eldest, including fun learning activities. I kept him engaged with daily activities even when he was a baby, and read to him for hours every day.
But after welcoming the twins home, time became harder to find, not just for my eldest but for any of them.
The twins weren’t getting the same level of attention as their older brother had, and I wasn’t as mindful about incorporating learning activities into our days.
It’s hard to be creative—much less remember to do any of these activities—when you’re just barely trying to survive.
Finding time to do activities for infants and toddlers
That all changed the day I realized my infant twins couldn’t care less about books. Whereas their older brother had devoured books at their age, my two youngest had no interest and could barely sit still.
I knew then that we had to incorporate reading and learning into our days. We may not have had the same amount of time my eldest and I did, but I still found activities for infants and toddlers we could all do together.
I focused on a few strategies that fit into my busy schedule as a full-time working mom, making sure I didn’t feel stressed or pressured in the process.
Keep your activities short and simple
Many of us feel compelled to fill our days with endless learning experiences. We think evenings should include hour-long crafts, and we cram weekends with field trips and museums.
Thing is, kids can only absorb so much before they feel overstimulated. Keep your activities short and simple—crafts can even be just 10 minutes! Instead of a whole day of activities, stick to one per day.
Plan one outing a day on the weekends so your kids have plenty of downtime at home. They’ll enjoy just the right balance of parent-directed learning with the freedom to explore on their own.
Make a list of activities
Don’t feel pressured to come up with activities to do with your child. Instead, make a list you can go through for inspiration.
For instance, list several infant activities to do with your baby, choosing one per day. The younger the child, the simpler the activities can be (think peek-a-boo or rolling a ball back and forth).
This past summer, I even made a list of “field trips” for my kids. On the days they were home from summer camp with me, I’d simply go through the list for ideas on where to go.
You can also organize your list by themes. Let’s say you want to introduce simple math concepts to your little ones. In that case, set aside a week to play a few games or activities related to that theme.
Having a list also makes planning and shopping for items more organized. Knowing which crafts you plan to do will help you gather all the materials you need beforehand. You can purchase all the materials you need at the same time.
Want a few ideas of things to do after work? Join my newsletter and download my play ideas calendar, perfect for the early evening hours! The first sheet includes ideas for the weekdays, while the second is a blank template to fill with your own ideas. Download it below—at no cost to you:
Work with what you have
At the same time, don’t discount the materials you already have at home.
I’m not a “crafty mom” and don’t have shelves and storage of crafts. Instead, I find whatever items I happen to have and give those to my kids. I’ve quickly learned that it doesn’t take much to engage my kids, even when I re-purpose existing household items.
The worst feeling is assuming you need to have top-notch arts and crafts supplies, when in reality, simple substitutions or materials will do.
Repeat the same activities
Along the same lines of adding zero pressure, it’s totally okay to repeat the same activities.
Think about preschools: they do the same tasks every day! From watercolor to “practical work” to singing songs, kids enjoy the rhythm and predictability of doing the same activities.
Plus, repeating activities gives them an opportunity to master whatever skill they’re trying to learn. It’s not just about watercolor painting once, but learning how to do it better (and enjoying the process all the while).
Don’t feel pressured to come up with 100 ideas you do once and never again. Stick to a few favorites, especially if you already have the supplies on hand.
Build activities into your routine
One of the best benefits of routines is that it forces everyone to make time for what’s important, automatically.
When I realized my twins weren’t getting as much reading time as their older brother had, I built reading into our routine. I started at bedtime, reading four books before putting them to bed. This made sure I didn’t forget to include reading in our day.
For you, maybe the activities fall into your after-school routine, or first thing Saturday mornings. By incorporating them into your day, you’re more likely to follow through and make time to do them.
Don’t discount household activities
In the effort to provide our kids with the best learning experiences, we forget that those can often be found in our household tasks.
Kids are genuinely intrigued by everything around them, including tasks we don’t find entertaining. From sorting laundry to grocery shopping, daily tasks can provide just the right engagement for your child.
It’s more about being present, asking questions, and inviting curiosity than it is about giving the best arts and crafts project. A game of laundry peek-a-boo can be pretty engaging with the right mindset and attitude.
Whether you have one child or more, finding time to teach and encourage creativity can be a challenge. But by simplifying the process and cherishing their natural curiosity, you can still find time to do activities for infants and toddlers.
Make a list of activities so you never feel pressured to come up with one on the fly. Keep them short and simple, especially since kids can only take so much stimulation at a time.
Simplify even further by working with whatever materials you have on hand, and even repeating the same activities over and over. Build these activities into your daily routine so you’re less likely to forget about them.
And finally, don’t discount daily activities that, to us parents, can feel like a drag, but provide endless entertainment for our kids.
By keeping things simple and drawing on their desire to learn, I’ve been able to engage my kids in learning activities—including reading books every night at bedtime.
Get more tips:
- 4 Easy Ideas to Nurture Your Child’s Creativity
- How to Foster Independence in Your Toddler
- Preschool Pros and Cons: Should You Send Your Child to Preschool?
- 7 Effective Ways to Handle Parent Burnout
- How to Raise Kids Who Love to Learn
Tell me in the comments: What are your favorite activities for infants and toddlers?
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