Anyone who has a two-year-old knows what I’m talking about when I say, this is hell. Gone are the days when your little one would play happily behind a gate or in a playpen while you got stuff done. Suddenly long silences strike terror into your heart. Your entire day consists of keeping your kid alive from the time he wakes up until nap time and then surviving until bedtime. It’s exhausting (and now that I’m 40 it’s even worse than with my first two many years ago. I’m too old for this. My heart cannot take it).
Just a few days ago my son was unusually quiet and so I went, heart in my throat, to check on him. When I found him, he had pushed his little table over to his dresser, had one foot on it and one foot on his dresser knob while attempting to pull himself up on top of the furniture. I have no idea why he was doing this. I assume it was to push the lamp onto the floor for fun. Short of removing all furniture from his room and padding the walls, I had to do something different for his own safety and my sanity. So I did what every modern mom does. I turned to Pinterest. Pinterest will surely save us with its fun and easy crafts and activities for toddlers!
I searched specifically for activities that could be done while strapped into a high chair that I could move to whatever room I’m in. Thus began my search for the perfect toddler-taming fun. I don’t know if my kid is particularly surly or if it was the activities, but it didn’t go well.
1. Noodle sorting
Doesn’t this look fun?
I whipped up some homemade dough with a little flour and water (10 minutes), stuck it in three balls on his tray, put the spaghetti in just like pictured, and put some noodles on his tray and showed him how to do it. He immediately began to scream at me and pull the pasta off the sticks. This is what he came up with instead:
And then he shouted, “DONE!” This lasted about five minutes. Clean up time 12 minutes. Total prep and clean up: 22 minutes for five minutes of play. Dishes done: zero. Floors vacuumed: zero. Mess added to floor: flour, sticky dough, and dried pasta.
2. Mess-free painting
This sounds right up my alley! No mess! I’m in. This one is really fun and I was tempted to do one.
Unfortunately, my son didn’t feel the same way. Prep time: 10 minutes. Play time: 30 seconds. Dishes done: zero.
3. Drawing with cars
My son loves cars. I was sure this was going to be a hit.
This one was such an epic fail I couldn’t even get a picture of the car contraption I rigged because he grabbed it and ripped the marker off and started coloring the normal way. He probably did that longest of all. Prep time: two minutes: Play time: zero (but at least he colored for a while (about 10 minutes). Dishwasher: loaded.
4. Fine motor skills game
“I have this stuff, I think,” I said hopefully to myself. Prep time: 12 minutes (10 of which was spent arguing with my daughters that they indeed do have pipe cleaners somewhere in that pig sty of a room, so go find them).
I got very excited that he seemed to like this one, but after putting two pipe cleaners into the holes, he shoved it at me shouting “DONE!”
Vacuuming: zero. Clean up: it’s still sitting on my counter.
5. Connect 4
This looked genius to me except for the shape sorting part…seriously, who has time for this? But I figured he would like just putting the pieces in the slots!
He loved this. This one is a winner. I actually got three rooms vacuumed! And he’s asked to play it every day since! HUGE victory here! And there’s virtually no setup or clean up time. Just open the box and hand it over. When he’s done he likes putting it away. Score!
All in all, it was a pretty big flop considering I had been trying to clean up the kitchen and this is what I ended up with instead. But, hey! We made through another day without a trip to the emergency room and that is an accomplishment worth bragging about.