Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Toy Review: Rainy Day with a Toddler! Fun toys to have in the house to keep you sane and your little one active!

Moms, Dad, Grandparents, Caregivers! 

It's a rainy day and what do you do? You're locked inside all day with your busy and energetic toddler and you're left with the few resources and energy that you have left to survive the day until reinforcements arrive. What do you do? Before you pick up that hammer and break the “in case of emergency break glass” sign with a case of wine, ear plugs, and an eye mask, read on below for my list of things I have in the house to keep my little guy busy, and keep me crazy-free for minutes, and if I am lucky -- sometimes an hour!

Ball Pitfocuses on sensory needs, improving fine motor skills, imaginative play

If you can find one cheap, a ball pit is a great toddler busy tool to have on hand when going outside is just not in the cards. I got this one off of Amazon, and it’s by a company called iPlay - 100-Pit-Ball Play Tent Popup Hexagon Mesh Kids House Twist Pool.  The ball pit folds completely flat, so when not in use, it stores easily. This set comes with 100 starter balls that are colorful and durable, and very easy to clean. 100 balls is really all you need unless you like cleaning up stray balls all day long. I would suggest dumping half the bag in there, and throwing in some toys. The balls always manage to find their way out the tent. This toddler busy tool can be kept open for play all day, and when they tire of it, move on to the next task!

Play tunnel – promotes imaginative play, gross motor development

A play tunnel is a sure fire way to get those creative juices flowing! Test your little one’s sense of adventure by outing their favorite toy at one end of the tunnel and encourage your kiddo to crawl through. Some kids may find this type of play a little scary, because the space is so confined – no less confined than your womb, moms, am I right? It took my son a good week to get acquainted with this contraption, so if you have the space (I don’t, of course), leave this tunnel out for them to explore. A fun trick is to merely put the tunnel close to the exit of a tent or the ball pit noted above to create a fantasy world for them to explore.

I do not recall where I purchased my tunnel, but it may have been at Target or Toys R Us out of desperation. Any tunnel will do – just make sure it folds flat and has Velcro or ties on the sides of the tunnel when folded up for easy storage. My tunnel has Velcro and a storage bag, and it fits perfectly and hidden behind furniture. 

Target One Spot Finds - an array of sensory products available, hard to find products for parents

The Target dollar section is my savior some times. You can find a lot of cool stuff in that section to keep your toddler busy for under $5. 

Wooden Bird House Paint Set - promotes fine motor skills, imaginative play, learn colors, cause and effect

How about a paint set that includes a wooden birdhouse, paint, and a paint brush? 

Target One Spot Themed Felt Mural - promotes imaginative play, fine motor skills

During the holidays, look for these amazing large felt murals that can be decorated by your kiddo. I hung this up while I was decorating our Christmas tree, and he loved it, because he was decorating too! Best $5 I ever spent! Target just released a lot of great felt products like this map of the US below!

The map also comes with landmark felt pieces, one per state! You can also teach each state's capital! 

Gift wrap - promotes imaginative play

I always keep a roll of leftover gift wrap in my house for a birthday gift, or a gag gift for a friend. I had no idea that I could use it as a toddler busy tool, though! Use any store bought gift wrap - recycled, preferably - unfurl the wrap, and lay it down on the flower, place child on top, and roll your child like a burrito - mind their arms! It produces hilarious results (and cries!), especially when they're trying to break free. 

Go outside - a little rain never hurt anyone

Sure, it's a rainy day, but use this rainy day to explore what comes out during a light rain (don't go outside in a typhoon), or after a rain storm. After a storm, that's magic time for photos, too. Show your kiddo slugs, and worms! Show them that the slimy stuff comes out in the rain, because they don't mind getting wet. Show them how the flowers get water from the rain, and where the water goes and why it goes where it does (warning: research required). Jump up and down in muddy puddles (like Peppa!), and show them the proper use of an umbrella. Pick up wet leaves, and make pictures with the leaves on the ground (a simple smiley face will do!). 

Finally, by far the best toddler busy tool you could have in your house...drum roll, please!

Yourself - promotes bonding, imaginative play, memories, cuddles, and a lot of love!

There is nothing better on this Earth than separating your busy life from play time with your kid. Truthfully, that "stuff" can wait, because your kids are going to grow up faster than an eight hour work day. Take a deep breath when you're feeling like you're going to lose it and repeat after me, "the days may be long, but the years are short." 

Use your play time together to get to know each other. There's a voice inside that cute, tiny head of theirs, and a brain itching to grow bigger with the love and knowledge from you. Every kid is different, especially mine.  I am his playmate, and any work of my own comes to a screeching halt when I hear, "Mommy, can you come and play with me?" Who could say no? Well, I do, sometimes - kids need alone time, too, and so do mommies who work from home (raises hand!). 

My toddler busy tools rarely worked, if they did work it was because the planets aligned perfectly, and George RR Martin finished writing The Winds of Winter (I love you George, take your time!). I have googled everything under the sun, and those "suggestions" only worked if you're kid complied and listened. Sometimes kids have to be crazy, because they're kids! When is acting crazy allowed when you're an adult? Um, like never! 

Seriously, there is no sure fire way to keep a kid busy and out of your hair, you had the kid to be in your hair until they purposely put gum in it to mark the separation. And when that happens, what will you be doing? Your housework? Answer your e-mails? No, you will be missing that tiny voice that asked you to come and play not long ago - what seemed like a minute ago - their first cry as a newborn to the slamming of the front door and the footsteps of your little one, now a teenager, heading out to play with their friends. Not you. Think about it!



  1. Thanks for the great ideas! Staying in during winter with a toddler is hard work! I've been scouring the net for educational ideas to help me bond with my little one and the felt mural is awesome. I love the gift wrap idea too. No reason not to get a little silly when your little guy starts grabbing for everything in sight just to keep occupied. I might wrap myself up too! Haha. Thanks again, Tubey! Really enjoy the posts!

    1. Right?! Nothing is better than you, though!