I know this might seem obvious. But hear me out.
I actually found myself this weekend just gone reaching out to some of the other lovely moms on my Facebook page for ideas on how to entertain my child indoors. Dont get me wrong, I’m not daft, I know the basics and more regarding looking after my daughter. We do it all from baking to crafts to exploring. But sometimes you can get stuck in a bit of routine, and if I am really honest, as much fun as a pre schooler would have going to the park and causing havoc with glue and stickers every day, for the parent, doing the same stuff day in day out can be a bit, dare I say it, tedious.
This weekend was very wet too so I was particularly struggling for indoor activities after filling the morning already with the usual ones! It’s easy to not think outside the box and miss things that should have been a really obvious activity, but sometimes, we don’t see whats in front of us and it takes another parent to point out these things to make you open your creative mind a bit more.
So here is a list of free activities that can be enjoyed with a child of my daughter’s age, a few ideas I have to thank the gorgeous network of ladies from my Facebook, you know who you are, and the rest being things we always do and can often be enjoyed by all the family!
- Bake! This is probably the activity I rely on the most, as it is my hobby and now my daughter adores helping (and eating!) our homemade bakes too. It’s a great place to get really creative and it doesn’t have to stop at cakes. I let her blend up soups and add seasoning to dishes or tear and throw in herbs. The kitchen is a great place to learn life skills that are not only fun but will set them up for being self-sufficient in the future. Kids of this age really like being involved in the creative process of anything so involve them as much as you can.
- Crafts! We do something of this form each day, whether it be drawing, colouring, sticking, making cards, or vegetable printing,anything that is messy and she gets to completely put her own personal mark on goes! Kids love messy crafts and I can easily fill an hour on a good day letting her imagination run wild on paper. Messy! But good for her!
- The Park! Kids of this age will almost never turn down a trip to the park. They do not get bored with slides and swings. Fact! And its good exercise for them to run about for half an hour!
- Local Sanctuary! We go and visit our local donkey sanctuary which is a lovely activity to fill a morning and get some fresh air. It is free entry and these places are usually run entirely on charity and sponsorship, so it wont cost you anything to visit. We decided after a few visits to adopt one of the Donkeys, but even this is a small price to pay at £2 per month, and for that she gets personal close encounter visits and updates. Our sanctuary is set in the heart of a large park so it’s a good excuse for a day out and more fun in the play area afterwards! Especially with a little friend!
- Have a Picnic! We love a picnic. You can get the children to choose what they would like to eat, help prepare and pack it (if you can get a proper picnic basket that’s always more fun!) then choose a spot and stuff your face! We are lucky to have some lovely vast parks around us and my daughters favourite spot is usually under a big shady tree with plenty of ground in front of us to run about, play football and just be three!
- Gardening! Ok, so to buy flowers or seeds it’s not so much free, but you can get these very cheaply now if you shop around. I have been getting my daughter involved in helping me to dig my border, plant flowers and water them regularly. She likes having her own job to do and it gives her a sense of achievement when she has fed the plants she planted herself. I don’t think enough kids know about plants, especially fruit and vegetables, or where they actually come from. It’s another life skill that could be vital to them as they grow up.
- Copying! Ok, this sounds like a bit of a nothing activity but it can lead to lots of things. My make up, very basic, can be on and done in about 4 minutes flat…however, my three-year old has taken to coming and sitting on my lap and hogging the mirror whenever I put it on now and she loves experimenting with all the different colours and transforming her face into something new. I wouldn’t suggest doing this with expensive make up as they are very messy creatures but its an amazing way for her to be creative. She does the same with her clothes too, she watches me pick what to wear and she is now going through her wardrobe herself and evaluating what she likes best each day.
- Reading! This is so important. For brain strength and learning but also for imagination. She loves to read and we make sure we read at least two books each day, usually around bedtime. It gives her a routine too and I love watching her little facial expressions ranging from shocked to happy to concerned when she is hearing different parts of the story! I also think it’s so important not to sit kids in front of the tv all day and I would much rather she read a book at bedtime than stare with her tired eyes at a blindingly bright screen right before bed.
- Water Play! She has so much fun with water. A bath can turn into a swimming session. A washing up bowl becomes a make shift paddling pool. They are, really, quite easily pleased at this age, as long as they are allowed a bit of freedom and encouragement to enjoy simple pleasures. A paddling pool in the summer months can create hours of entertainment. If the weather is bad, she will shallow fill the bath and play with her ducks and other bath toys for ages, creating characters with different voices and making them dive into the bath. She has also discovered my sisters hose in the garden and would happily play with that all day given the chance!
- Teddy Bears Picnic! This is something I hadn’t even thought of before! I had all the props available and yet it didn’t occur to me. So thanks again to my Facebook moms. Once we set it up, she had a good hour of lovely role play, dressing up each of her teddies in her own clothes and forcing our homemade cakes upon them! She loved it and afterwards she decided she would have a party and dance with every bear one by one, so this activity gave us a good 2 hours of fun!
- Dress up! Kids adore dressing up and role play at this age! If you are willing to go along with them and let them make you over too, even better!
- Visit a Beach! We were lucky enough to live by some great beaches in Cornwall and are also lucky that we still have family by some! You can lose hours simply playing, eating, building in the sand and splashing in the water! Its toddler heaven. Throw in an ice cream and its a great day out and something the whole family can enjoy!
There are loads of other things you can do like watch a film, go exploring in the local park and look for different bugs, go blackberry picking. We feel sometimes we always have to spend money on our children with fancy toys or expensive days out but, at this age, the simple pleasures really are the most enjoyable x