The days are snowy and cold around our part of the country (hello, New England!) and that means on days not filled with daycare, mom is left scheming activities and various forms of educational stimulation to keep our toddler busy and happy.
We have one of those children who does not like to sit still. At 17 months, her mind and body are always going. She’s super curious and hungry to learn everything she possibly can and she wants to be as independent as she can (while still stopping for hugs and kisses). While it can be hard to accept her strong spirit at times (like when she’s having what feels like the 100th meltdown in a day because she can’t express herself yet and cannot physically do all that she wants to because hello–she’s 17 months!), I ultimately love her zest for life and enjoy coming up with fun activities.
When we’re stuck inside I’ve had to dig deep at times and today’s post is one way I keep my toddler busy and in turn, myself busy too: toddler obstacle courses. I’m constantly telling parents, “If you keep up with your kids, you’re going to get so much exercise!” My Fitbit affirms this because even being cooped up inside on a day when I don’t do my own workout, I do nearly 10,000 steps a day, “just” being mom.
This particular activity is a favorite around our [messy] house (looking at the photos below, yes, our house seriously is this messy about 10 minutes after we all get up in the morning until after bedtime). I piece together a handful of “obstacles” which keep her moving and keep her brain occupied too, challenging her and helping her grow. The activities are short and realistic. They don’t take too much time to complete and they’re fun enough that my toddler will do this activity for 30 minutes or more sometimes. Other than finger painting, that’s probably the most time she can focus on one activity currently so I’ll count it as a mom win!
I’m sure I could put together multiple versions of this post, and maybe I will in the future. But my hope is that this post will help jog your own fun creations and spur off a fun cold or rainy weather activity for you and your little one(s).
After I set up the obstacle course, I demonstrated each activity and then had Isla follow. I then coached her through each activity if she got distracted or forgot what the “challenge” was. Which meant I participated a lot too. Trying to fit through the tunnel was an awesome ab exercise!
- Tunnel – I crafted a tunnel out of a couch, our coffee table, and a blanket. You could always use a store bought tunnel too. We love obstacle courses so much that we’re actually getting one of those for Christmas and I’m sure Isla will love it!
- Climbing over an obstacle – For this I used a giant stuffed animal and we army crawled over it. You could also use a couch cushion or a few pillows stacked on top of one another. Carrying a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar is totally optional.
- Stepping activity – I used a dog bed and Isla had to step in and back out, crossing to the next activity. Again, you could use a foam pad, pillow, or even a folded blanket. I wanted something that would challenge her balance and wouldn’t be too big so she could actually take small steps. I made sure I was nearby to catch her if she stumbled.
- Sorting – I grabbed two empty baby wipes boxes and filled one with balls from our ball pit. She then transferred the balls from one box to another. Either one by one, or she loved dumping them from one box to another. You could also use blocks, toy food, plastic Easter eggs, etc.
- Balance beam – Finally, we did not use an actual balance beam here, but rather a piece of masking tape on the floor. Place your tape and then have your toddler walk heel to toe down the line–an awesome activity for balance and agility!
How do you keep your little ones busy when you’re at home? Share in the comments below.