While the Mommy’s Away, the Toddlers Will Play

So, the mice toddlers are playing nicely as you begin your school day; however, 2 minutes into teaching square roots, and they have disappeared. An eerie calm overtakes the house. You hear squeaky laughter intermittently escaping from somewhere down the hallway. You follow said laughter only to find all family members 3 feet and under sitting in the bathtub playing happily, covered in bubble bath.

Sound familiar?

So, what’s a mom to do?

Well, here’s my Top Ten List of

1. Sleep
This one works great when you have elementary aged children and younger. School does not take as long in those early years, so it can easily be fit into the toddler’s nap schedule. For years we homeschooled at 1pm every day because that was when the toddler napped.

2. Play Pen
My toddler LOVES to keep his younger brother company in the play pen. No, it’s not a cage, but hey, even if it was…what toddler doesn’t love a cage?!

3. Pretend School
My toddler has his own crate and box of supplies just like the big kids. He spends a goodly amount of time sitting right beside us “working” away.

4. “Quiet” Games
These can be everything from clothespin games to file folder games to bears and a balancing bucket.

5. Lauri Puzzles
and other toddler activities suggested by My Father’s World curriculum.

6. Cardboard boxes
Need I say more?

7. A box of toys just for school time
It could be soldiers, it could be horses, it could dress up clothes…but whatever it is, it is ONLY for school time!

8. Board Books
Not just for reading. My children create the most amazing “book houses” with their board books. You might have to show them how to do it once or twice, but after that their plastic McDonald’s toys will be living in the lap of luxury.

9. Playdough & Paint
Yep, I just saw a couple of you cringe. Get washable paint and use the recipe for playdough I posted and I promise you, it isn’t that bad. It could be worse…it could be glitter! (anyone else DESPISE that stuff???)

10. Let ’em run and clean up later
Some days are just like that.

For more ideas on keeping toddlers busy:
Raising Olives
Smockity Frocks
Too Many Kids in the Bathtub
Miscellaneous Musings of a 5x Mom
(whom I am indebted to for compiling all these great links!)
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20 Comments on While the Mommy’s Away, the Toddlers Will Play

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20 thoughts on “While the Mommy’s Away, the Toddlers Will Play

  1. I’m not homeschooling yet, but I’m storing up all this info for when I do! I have question, what age is best to start homeschooling boys? My son will be 4 in February and he’s already sight reading a bit and getting character-building and structured Bible-study with AWANA. If I start some time after his b-day, am I asking for it? hahaha Oh! And I have a 1 year old too!

  2. Honestly, Amy~ you are SO funny! I like to write as well and we’ve got 5 kids about the same age (and the same genders!) as yours. I can’t tell you how many times I’ll read your post and go, “Did I just write that?” :-) LOVE your blog!

  3. Thanks, Amy. I love learning what experienced moms like you are doing. I honestly never thought before this year that I would try to include my 3 yr old at all. I was only concerned with keeping him busy so we could do school. I’m so grateful now that he participates in our morning read-aloud time where we read the Bible, work on memorization, do character training, etc. (I’m also grateful he’s napping while we read our history, literature, and science!) I loved the activities at MFW site. I may be puchasing some of these. I also just bought a wire puzzle rack that holds 10 or so puzzles and that has become a “station”. There’s so much to learn!

  4. Thanks for visiting my blog this evening! Did you notice I spelled Susy’s zoo wrong? I changed it. Hey, and I just noticed I unconsciously took your post title (or a version of it) for my today’s post! How funny that is. I read your post this morning and must have tucked it in the back of my brain and pulled it out when I was writing my post. I hope you take that as a compliment! By the way, these are great ideas.


  5. Awesome! Well I’m totally on board with just letting school flow for now! I guess we’re on the right track! Thanks Amy and in the words of Gov. Arnold, “I’ll be back!” (I’m a nerd! LOL)

  6. Thank you Amy! I needed to read this today! I try to include my two little ones,as much as I can, into our school day. But oft-times I run out of things for them to do and they run wild. LOL!

  7. Lisa,
    Glad to know I’m not alone! lol

    I’m of the camp who says you’ve been homeschooling all along, so there’s no need to start or stop…just take a step up to the next ladder rung.

    And boys are all different…my oldest was reading at 4. My next boy pbly won’t be. There’s no tried and true mold. You just take them each on an individual basis.

    Also, keep a running dialogue throughout your day. “See that tree, son? That’s a cottonwood. They grow to be very tall and very wide around. Some are so big around that you, your daddy, and me wouldn’t be able to hold hands around it! Isn’t God’s creation amazing?!” (Someday I hope to write a post more about this concept of a running dialogue…but you get the picture.)


  8. Great ideas Amy! What a blessing for Moms of little people who are also trying to school older ones to read your insights!


  9. Tina,
    I didn’t notice at all about Suzy’s zoo! lol

    And I definitely do not have the market on this title…there’s nothing new under the sun! But, thanks so much for the compliment! :)


  10. I love this post, Amy! With just my 14-month old right now, I’m not “homeschooling” but we plan to do so, and I’m always thinking about different aspects of it. This is definitely one I’ve thought of a lot!! :-) Thank you for your lovely comments on my blog! :-)

  11. oh MY, do we have a lot of days like #10 – sometimes I think we have more than our fair share! Ahh well, we all end the day in one piece (more often than not), and the Lord’s mercy is new each morning, so we have another day to try again.

    Thanks for this – love it!

  12. I’m excited about some of these ideas just for keeping my toddlers busy, and homeschool is still years away. I giggled over your comment about glitter–I’ve heard it called the “canker sores of the craft world.” Once you’re exposed, it stays with you, and just when you think you’ve gotten rid of it–flare up!

  13. Thank you for all of your wonderful homeschooling advice! I have been stressing over what to do with my 2 1/2 year old who has been begging to go to school for over a year now! (he does understand that school will be at home with mommy now) There are so many opinions out there and you remind me to just pray and do what feels right for our family rather than copy what someone else does. God, my husband, and myself know what is best for our child, not a stranger in the internet. I will put the computer down and find what works for us. :)

    • Kourtney,
      You can find such good information, and be introduced to so many wonderful resources via the internet, but the moment we start feeling like we are horrible parents if we don’t use XYZ curriculum, we have lost the benefit of these resources. Enjoy the journey!
      Many blessings,

  14. I’m just starting this balancing act with homeschooling a soon to be kindergartener and having a 1 1/2 baby boy. I sometimes feel like he’s not getting enough attention. I love your ideas, it’s actually a prayer of mine this year to have an hour set aside with my kids for just fun stuff. I’m pretty good with the teaching thing but I want out relationship to grow as well. Thanks for the tips!! :-) :-)