Pull out the Board and Card Games
Candyland, Checkers, Go Fish – these are classics. Even if your children are too young to play by the rules of a given game, you can throw a bunch of cards down on the floor and ask them how many matches they can make. If you’d rather encourage your child to play alone and she’s old enough, encourage her to build a house of cards or dominos.
Is it Safe? Then It’s a Toy.
Go around your house and grab anything that your child doesn’t usually play with. Pots and spoons, of course, are a given. But you can also use Kleenex boxes – really, if your one-year-old is happy pulling out all the tissues for fifteen minutes, it might be worth the mess – old yarn, brooms, calculators, magazines, and more. Challenge your daughter to a Tupperware stacking contest and see who can pile up the most plastic. Older kids can make collages out of catalogs and younger ones can just destruct to their heart’s content. A big empty cardboard box filled with balled up socks or cotton balls can be fun for a one-year-old, and the same cardboard box can become a custom-made rocket ship for older kids.
Your tub? The pool. Your kitchen? The beach. Make sand castles out of a little flour mixed with water. Hide a plastic crab in a bowl of oats and see who can dig it up. Wear your swimsuits. Get out the goggles and put your head underwater. If your child’s not much of a beach person but you’re still up for imaginary travels, you can also pull out the atlas, close your eyes, and pick a country. Spain? Well, then, that’s your destination. Research the country online, mix up a Spanish tortilla of egg and potato for lunch, and spend a few hours imagining you’re visiting the Alhambra or watching a flamenco show, using whatever props you can find or create.
Throw down a few pillows, push aside the coffee table, and teach your child how to do somersaults or cartwheels.
Simon Says Sshhh…
Want a little silence? Try a game of Simon Says, or Hide and Go Seek. You can swap off who’s Simon. Start with standing on one foot or hopping in a circle, and work up to Simon Says no talking. It might get you three minutes of quiet time.