BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website!
Read more, and see how you can help:
Indoors at Home with Kids
Berkeley Parents Network >
Advice about Playing >
Indoors at Home with Kids
I've got a 4 year old and 2 year old twins. When we go out we
have a great time and they behave decently. At home its a
nightmare. I go pick up one room and they thrash another. I
let them into our yard and they carry buckets of sand into the
house. I turn my back, they find an ink pen or they start
tormenting each other. I could go on and on. I think my
problem has lots of aspects: 1) When we're at home I'm
distracted by bills, messes, laundry etc and I just don't pay
enough attention to them; 2) I think I need to find more
activities that are fun for us to do at home - that we can all
do together. So I guess here's the question...does anyone have
any ideas for organizing play at home or activities that are fun
for 2 and 4 year olds to do at home?
I, too, stay at home with 3 kids (ages 4, 3 and 2). Here is what
works for me. I consider being a mom as my job so I don't pay
bills or do laundry while I'm with the kids so I can focus on
them. I do laundry, bills, meal prep with my partner when he's
home. There are activities that work for all of them: building a
train track, painting, drawing, playdough is a big hit, building
towers and letting the little one kick it down, reading books.
Hopefully your twins will start playing with each other soon
which will give you a break.
I wish I had answers for you. I could have written your post
except I have 3.5 year old twins and no 4 year old. I just wanted
to let you know that twins really, really are a different animal
than children of different ages. I suggest you join a support
group. I am in a yahoo group for multiples and have been since
they were little. The other mothers on the list concur that
having twins is much, much more mess and havoc. Since they are
in the same developmental age they cook up things that one child
would not. They feed off each other's energy. So you have my
sympathies but don't be to hard on yourself. It's not all you.
another mother of twin tornados
I never had the added element of twins (!), but I do have two
children less than two years apart (who are a bit older now,
and it does get easier!). However, I did want to comment that
it is perfectly reasonable that you have time at home to be
able to do the things that need to be done, like bill paying,
laundry, etc. and your children should not have the expectation
that you will be always playing with them, or that it is OK to
bring in a bucket of sand from the yard. They are siblings and
need to develop skills that allow them to play with each other
or by themselves. I would suggest getting them started on age-
appropriate activities, and make it clear that you are busy
with grown-up business for a while. If they start to squabble
or disrespect your house, they will be separated into timeouts
until they can decide it is more fun to play together.
Assuming your twins nap, you can use that time to do other
activities with your four year old, or I am sure there will be
times the twins play together and the four year old will do
his/her own activities or ''help'' you with other chores. At our
house, I take time to read to the kids, get them started on art
projects, etc. but I have made it clear that I am not
interested in endless games of Candyland, and they now play
those kinds of games with each other (and I run and get the
camera because it is so cute!). Best of luck to you in
reclaiming some of your time at home!
My 2 year old daughter gets terribly bored in the afternoons, especially
when she doesn't take a nap (another problem.) Can you recommend any
books, etc. that we can use to get ideas for activities? It's not always
feasible for us to go out, so at-home activities would be ideal. For
example, tonight we broke out the crayons and a huge sketch pad and went
wild. It had been a while since she'd seen the sketch pad, so that had
Any and all suggestions gratefully accepted!
My 2 year old loves to engage in water play. Sometimes it's the only thing
that will engage her attention for more than 10 minutes at a time. She has
a sturdy step-stool that puts her right next to the sink. I make sure the
sink is cleared out of misc stuff, put in her washable toys, move the soap
(otherwise she puts gallons in the water!), put a towel down on the floor
beneath her, take off her clothes (except the diaper, usually), and let her
play. She especially likes things that squirt (sports bottles), things
with holes in the bottom, and cups to pour from one to the other.
Here are some ideas of at-home activities which your 2 year old may enjoy:
-sing songs, dance to music;
-get a childproof tape-recorder and tapes ( you can check children's tapes
out from libraries). Our son enjoys popping tapes in and out and playing
and listening to them;
-follow and cook a simple recipe together/involve child with assembling
sandwiches, pulling grapes off stem, etc. (libraries have children's cook
-build with blocks;
-plant in pots or outdoor garden;
-go for a walk;
-ask any teachers you know for ideas, call BANANAS, get ideas from early
childhood activities books from library, ask other parents what they do.
Besides water play, here are a couple of things my son enjoyed when he was
1. Fill small plastic basin with coarse cornmeal to a depth of about 2 inches,
and bury small objects (lima bean, kidney bean-size) in it. Let him find them
with small digging implements such as toy earth-moving equipment. (A very
young child could use a spoon and larger objects. The point is that cornmeal
is easier to clean up than sand so you could do this in the kitchen.)
2. Attach a magnet to a 3' cord and make "fish" from paper with a paper clip
attached. Let him "fish" from a chair.
Once someone at Berkeley Bowl Seafood gave my son a smelt, and he had a lot of
fun playing with it, in and out of the water.
There's a good book called "365 Days of Creative Play" for children 2 yrs &
It's written by Sheila Ellison and Judith Gray, published by Sourcebooks Inc.
It costs $12.95.
The activities are mostly simple, requiring items you'd have around the
house anyway, and some require only imagination.
There are a variety of rave reviews on the back of the book, including one
from Joe Montana.
The same folks have a second book, "365 Afterschool Activities"--TV-free fun
anytime for kids ages 7-12.
I was wondering if anyone had some good ideas for active things to do at
home for a 2 year old. My daughter is one who likes to just sit around and
do things or watch tv but I want her to be a bit more active. During the
summer, I would take her to the parks in Alameda (where I live) and let her
play on all the jungle gyms and sandbox for an hour or so. Or we would go
for little walks. But now that the rainy season is coming on, she gets
restless sometimes. I live in a second story apartment and have a pretty
spacious living room. I was thinking of even getting her one of those
little cars that she could move around with, but my husband thinks it is a
bad idea. Sometimes, I play "Ring-a-round" or "tag" with her...but I get
too pooped after a while.
Any inexpensive ideas?
Get some rain boots! Then you can go out for walks and splash in the
puddles. A small umbrella can provide even more fun, if you're careful.
Last year we looked for indoor activities for our active toodler, who was
climbing up the walls during the long rains. We broke down and bought a
small plastic slide. We also built a two-step structure out of sturdy
cardboard boxes and a lot of duct tape, and named it the "jumping box". We
encouraged him to climb on it instead of the bookshelves, dressers, etc.
He really enjoyed it. We also found a little ride-on police car at target
for about $20 that he likes.
Last winter I tried out an idea from, I think, _Parents_ magazine, which was
to create an "obstacle course", with masking tape on the floor to show the
path through big cardboard boxes, up onto the couch, crawl to the end of the
couch and then jump down onto the pillows, over to a spot for stacking a set
of blocks into a tower, etc. My son was really too young for this last
winter, at 1.5, but this year, at 2.5, I think he will really like it. I
may try to time him, to see if that keeps him on track or helps him get
As idea for indoor fun: Last year we bought a used trampoline (about 2-1/2
feet across) at a yard sale for very cheap. One year later, by 3 year old
still uses it at least an hour a day. Our living room really has a lot of
"living" in it with this apparatus, but it's worth it. We live in a second
floor condo, and the alternative was our daughter jumping from every piece of
furniture onto the floor. Needless to say, our downstairs neighbor
appreciates this, too!
Two indoor activities I used to do with toddlers:
1. Camping: put a sheet over the dining room table, make tunnels using
two chairs and another sheet. Get flashlights, sleeping bags, etc.
2. Grocery store: use a little plastic shopping cart that many toddlers
seem to have. If you have a toy cash register, that's good. Put some
canned goods, unopened cereal boxes and pasta, etc. on a shelf and the
toddler shops, pays with play money (or just make your own paper money)
And one rainy-day outdoor activity:
3. Boats: go outside in the rain with boots and raincoats on and float
things in puddles or in the gutter. I save wine corks for this - my big
boys still think this is a lot of fun. You can also use plastic lids.
Maybe this would work indoors in the bathtub or kitchen sink.
this page was last updated: Jan 3, 2005
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2014 Berkeley Parents Network