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"I need to get this done!" or How to Keep Your Toddler Busy

By Stephanie Foster

Whether you work at home or are fortunate enough to be "just" staying home with your family, there are times when you need to get something done, but your child just won't let you. It can be easier with older children, who can be told to go outside and play or play in their room, but what about toddlers? You can't always just drop them in front of the TV, after all. There are a lot of simple activities you can have your toddler do that will require little supervision.

One idea is to set up a "quiet play" area, such as a little tent or even a large cardboard box that can be used as a playhouse. Have special toys that your toddler does not get to play with most of the time, so they hold his or her interest for a longer period.

Does your toddler love to imitate you? So long as it can be done quietly, why not encourage it? Set up a small desk with a toy phone, paper, crayons and whatever else will keep your toddler feeling like he or she is working like mommy. Make sure they're where you can see them - you don't want those crayons making their way to the walls! If you're cleaning something they can't help with, give them something they can "clean," even if it's just rubbing a cloth over the seat of a chair to "dust it for mommy." Dress up is another good activity.

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Simple crafts may be another good idea. Crafts often require more supervision, but hold toddlers interests very well in most cases. They can arrange silk flowers in plastic vases or in baskets, draw on paper plates or do other easy activities. Need ideas? There is an ebook, Little Kid Crafts For All Seasons which is geared towards toddlers. It's very affordable, and has over 200 pages of suggestions. It's available at

If you only need a couple of minutes, get a timer, set it and explain that you can play when it is done. Small children do not have a good sense of time, so the timer makes it more real to them. Tell your toddler what you want them to be doing while the timer is running so that you can get things done. You will probably have to start this one with very short times, three minutes or less at first, then build to longer times depending on your needs.

Finally, consider having your toddler plan what he or she would like to do once mommy is available. Tea party? Play in the yard? Don't let anticipation build too much, or they will get more anxious for your attention, but if your toddler enjoys planning, this may work.

© Stephanie Foster


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