There are some days that I wake up ready to conquer the world. I have the shopping list written, legibly, on an actual piece of paper, laundry is already going in the washer, all toys are put away, beds are made, and both boys are fed and out of pajamas within 30 minutes. There is no stopping this mama. She is focused. She has snacks at the ready and the look that makes toddlers want to sit nicely in their stroller. This mom is on fire. This mom effortlessly schedules everyone’s dentist appointments on the same day while simultaneously loading the dishwasher, and playing catch with the 2 year old. This mom has 3 balanced meals prepared, and one might even be completely organic. This mom gets both kids napping at the same time and uses that hour to workout. This mom has motherhood figured out.
But there are also days where I stand in the doorway and think, nope. Then I walk back inside, eat cereal out of mixing bowl and watch my children run around in diapers. This day probably happens more often than I’d like to admit. For this kind of day I have come up with a few ways to keep the kids entertained without plopping them in front of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on repeat.
1. Cardboard Coloring
Coloring is a creative activity all on its own and a great way for kids to learn how to express themselves. The side of my refrigerator is covered in homemade art, but my toddler is easily bored with paper. I usually find his latest masterpiece has turned into confetti. That is why we have made the jump to cardboard coloring.
If you’re like me you get boxes for everything. Diapers, Amazon shipments, Costco trips. I tell myself that I save the sturdy ones for storage and organization, but they usually end up sitting in my garage taking up space. I won’t let them go though. As soon as I do I know I will need them!
Back to my point, those boxes sitting around waiting to be thrown out make the perfect canvas for a creative little mind to draw on. Then, whenever I do find a use for them, they will be decorated by my favorite artist.
2. Moon Sand
I stumbled upon Moon Sand for the first time about a year and half ago and have never looked back. This stuff is amazing, and I can almost guarantee that you have all you need to make it in your kitchen right now. Yes, I said make it.
You will need an 8:1 ratio of flour and (edible) oil. I used 2 cups flour and 1/4 cup oil. Any oil will work, but I prefer to work with coconut. It smells like heaven and leaves your hands feeling like silk.
Use a fork to mix flour and oil together in a bowl until is starts to clump. Then use your hands to work it to an even texture. It should feel like lightly dampened beach sand. When you press on it, it will hold its shape and when you shake it, it will fall apart. You can leave the sand as is or modify it with other scents, colors, and textures. You can check out some of my favorites here
Not only does it smell great, but it’s also safe to eat, easy to clean up, and keeps well in an airtight container. I made a big batch about a year ago, and it is still going strong. Dwindling in size, yes, but still good! When the kids are done playing with it I put whatever hasn’t been eaten or thrown on the floor back in the container. A quick brush off the clothes cleans the boys, and the broom gets the rest off my floor.
3. Window Painting
This activity gets my toddler the most excited. I totally get it! This is by far the most visually stunning especially on bright, sunny days. You will need a 1 gallon Ziploc freezer bag, hand soap (thicker is better), food dye, and packing tape.
Before you start you will want to reinforce the sides of your bag with some tape. Don’t be shy! The last thing you will want is brightly colored soap running down the walls and onto the floor. I take a stretch of tape the length of one side and press it onto the bag so that half of the tapes width is hanging off. Then I fold the remaining half of the tape to the back of the bag and press down, making sure to get rid of any air bubbles. Repeat on each side leaving the top open.
Put 1/4 cup of soap in 3 separate bowls. Add food dye and mix. Keep adding dye until you get the color that you want. You can have as many different colors as your heart desires, but I don’t recommend doing any more than 3. The more colors you have the faster it will all mix together leaving you with a bag of brown/black soap.
Pour your dyed soap into the bag trying to keep them apart as much as possible. The goal is to have enough soap in the bag that it wants to stick together but not so much that you get a lot of pooling at the bottom. Once you have all the soap you need seal up the top and reinforce it with tape.
Take your bag and tape it to a window that gets a lot of light. Then sit back and watch. I love watching my toddler make different patterns with the colors. He’s amazed, and I’m amazed with the soapy entertainment.
So on those days that I am not out to conquer the world at least I can feel good in what I did conquer at home. And if they end up yelling for Toodles or doing the hotdog dance with Mickey, that’s OK too because as long as my boys are happy, healthy, and partially dressed I will count that as a win.