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Confession time. I have been known to groan, “I am going crazy!” at certain moments during the day.
Kind of loudly.
I guess since I have a house full of little ones (6,4,3,1), the craziness is not a surprise.
What I really need is something to keep a certain 1-year-old busy when all he wants to do is hang on my leg and cry big pitiful tears.
When I’m trying to make dinner for six people.
The great thing about having four kids is that the bigger ones entertain the little ones. I’m not saying we don’t have squabbles. We do. But we also have many moments that the kids have fun together.
Like the time last week that my Six decided it was time to play school. Each of her brothers sat on a living room chair with a rhythm instrument while they had music class. They got out the play food and had snacks. They read books.
It was adorable.
But then there’s the dinner hour — long known as “the witching hour” for moms who are trying to hold it together while preparing a home cooked meal. Or a frozen pizza.
Here are five activities for 1-year-olds that keep my toddler busy and happy.
1- Contact paper craft
I love clear contact paper. If you peel off the backing and tape it to your table with masking tape (sticky side up), you provide a fun work surface for your toddler. Give him a pile of construction paper squares and show him how to stick them to the paper. After about ten minutes of patiently sticking the squares to the contact paper, my toddler took them all off again and put them back into the bowl. A great first craft that he can do all by himself!
2 – Poke pom poms through holes
I love pom poms! Once my kids get past the stage where they have to put them in their mouth (usually around 15 months at our house), these become a perfect manipulative. They’re soft, colorful, and quiet! I poked some holes into the lid of a yogurt container, and my little guy poked the pom poms through. He was most interested in turning the container upside down and trying to shake the pom poms out.
3 – Pom-poms through a paper towel tube
For 1-year-0lds, the best ideas are usually the simplest. My little guy went from crying at my leg (while his three entertainers were all at Vacation Bible School) to giggling to himself at the sheer wonder of dropping pom poms through a tube. I’ll definitely be pulling this one out again!
4 – Toss stuffed animals into the hamper
Here’s another nod to the simple ideas! I emptied the hamper, filled it with stuffed animals, and put it in the center of the living room. When my One wasn’t quite sure what to do, I dumped it out. Filling it up was great fun, and my little boy who’s never shown interest in stuffed animals found a few to cuddle.
I love this idea from the Stay-at-Home-Mom’s Survival Guide’s giant list of toddler activities. Many of those activities are too advanced for my 1 1/2 year old, but this one was right on target. He went right at peeling off the masking tape and trying to stick it back on again. If you have an older sibling around to reapply the tape – even better! (A word of caution – try this first on a tiny section of table to make sure it doesn’t damage your furniture. It worked great on our table, but one commenter said the paint came off hers.)