I am sharing a series of fun mess free tot hacks to distract toddlers. You never know when you need them!
You know that moment when you have to go to the loo but your toddler won’t let you? She is clinging to your leg preventing you from taking any step or when you do get in, she is banging on your door… Or that moment when you have to make that urgent call…
You are not alone. We’ve all been there.
I have a mom hack that has worked with all of my toddlers. It is a simple mess free activity that works. I mean, it REALLY works to distract and entertain toddlers!
My elder daughter was 16 months old when my youngest was born. I was lucky to have had a six year old son along with them who would easily distract her most of the times but mostly when son was at school, the toddler was quite a handful. I quickly found that a little responsibility on her little shoulders worked like a charm. I would give her her ‘ big sister’ status and ask her to watch the baby for a few minutes. There were other ways I involved her with her baby sister too but this was the best of all. Until…
Fast forward a few months and little sister became a toddler herself. The two became’ partners in crime’. When mommy wasn’t watching, it was fun to either make huge messes, fight for attention or to fight for ‘that exact same item that is in her hand’. I was frustrated! Cooking and going to the bathroom were two things that were the most difficult for me. I had to engage them somewhere before I could get out of sight. But, I am sure you know… ideas really don’t come when we need them the most!
My eldest is a sensory seeker. That means, she loves all kinds of sensory play. Play dough, water, sand, beans, rice, soft stuff, rough stuff, anything to touch, shake or taste. On the other hand my youngest is a little scientist. She loves to see ‘what happens if…’. What if I throw this, dump this, squeeze this, push this, spread this. What is under there? Can I…? Do you know what I mean? I had two little bull dozers in my home!
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We needed a blackboard for our children when they were this age. We bought this Mala Aisle from IKEA
and it was then that I found what a smart thing it was to keep in my home. I am now recommending it to all parents! Wait till you hear why!!
At first, they only drew on it with dry erase markers on one side and chalks on the other side. They loved sticking stuff on it too. I would let them paint on theDrawing Paper Roll that we had got as an accessory to it but I found that I had to be in the same room when they were painting because if I weren’t, the kids would make huge messes. One time, the little one scribbled on the walls too! (Those Ikea Felt-tip Pen are not water proof!!)
One day, while I was getting late for lunch the eldest toddler asked me to let her paint. I was in a hurry and couldn’t afford to let her alone with the paints. The younger one, as always, repeated her sisters requests. A ‘no’ at that moment, would have meant a full blown tantrum from both of them. They already had the brushes in their hands and I had a glass of water in mine. I was in luck. They were giving me an idea right there!
What do tots know, right? I quickly handed them both two cups that were half filled with water.
They didn’t come back to me for quite some time. When I peeped in a few minutes later, there they were both: painting on the dirty blackboard. The board was cleaning up to show black lines and they thought they were painting. The water would dry up and again they would paint on it. SUCCESS!
It has been that day almost an year ago, and to this day, it has been our best mom hack. Every time I have to go to the bathroom or need them to leave me alone, I just pull out that board and give them some water and a brush. Of course, I also make sure that I don’t give them a chance to play this way often. They can use chalks or markers but they are not allowed to paint every day. I also use the other fun distractions so they rarely miss painting with water.
Mess Free Painting
Here is what you need to know to make this trick work:
What you need:
- A dirty black board
- Plastic cups
- Some tissues or cotton
- Thick brushes
How to make this work:
- Push some tissues or cotton at the bottom of the plastic cup. Add just enough water to wet the tissues soggy.
- Make sure the black board is dirty. If not just scribble hard on the board and rub it off lightly.
- Give your child the cup and brush. You can show them how to wet the brush and use it.
- Step back.
- Disappear! (Almost)
I would additionally add that you keep your child in your view so you know of their activities. My children are usually a bit too quite while they are doing this activity. As any mom will tell you, silence when you have toddlers is dangerous! 😀
If you don’t have a blackboard, you can let them paint on your kitchen tiles or floor too. You can also let them paint on the driveway or your sidewalk for a relaxing summer fun. I had once taped a long roll of paper on the floor for them to paint on too. The paper will tear but hey, I got myself some time (to use the bathroom!) and they had fun discovering that it tears!
Have fun! I hope this mom hack works with your child too. My kids LOVE painting with water… it is no mess (usually) and frugal!