You love being a hands-on mom and your kids love doing activities with you. But now you have introduced a new baby into the mix and you’re feeling lost as to what your older kiddos can do, while you are with baby. Sound familiar?
The first thing to do is to cut yourself some slack and throw that mom guilt out the window. There is no greater critic than ourselves, but just remember you’re doing a great job and your kids know how much you love them.
These seven activity ideas will hopefully help to make the transition easier and to help your special time with the baby be a special time for your older kids as well.
You’ll notice that each activity idea has a catchy name, as I have found that it helps to pique my kids’ interest in the activity and helps them to remember it as well.
Each activity is stored in a special container to help with organization, instruction, and scheduling. You can choose to use these activities whenever needed or have them on a rotation schedule for set times of the day or for specific days of the week (i.e. Monday is Building Bin day).
Please don’t feel pressured to use all of these activities, but use what you feel best suits your kids and which best suit you.
1. Ripping Bucket:
Simply grab a bucket, put in various pieces of paper (newspaper, construction paper, magazines, tissue paper, junk mail, etc…), and let your kids enjoy the fun of ripping, tearing, and shredding.
If you don’t want to keep or re-use the shredded paper, you can create a clean-up game to minimize the mess left behind. For example, the ripped paper can be crumbled into balls and tossed into the trashcan; similar to the newspaper toss activity.
Find more tips on dealing with toddler jealousy.
2. Book Box:
Create a special box with special books that are only taken out during your time with baby or feeding time. Here are some great recommendations for hands-on books.
You could even turn up the awesomeness of this activity and make it into a books-in-a-box reading adventure.
If possible, work in a read-aloud at the same time or expand this activity to include audio books as well. Here is a list of 15 awesome audio books for various ages.
3. Building Bin:
This would be a special bin filled with various blocks and building items (Legos, ABC blocks, wooden blocks, etc…).
Building is such a great hands-on activity for kids and it helps develop their imagination and concentration while keeping their hands busy.
4. Activity Tub:
Fill this tub will special quiet time activities, games, and toys. The tub could be themed (i.e. transportation, alphabet, art, etc…) or just contain some of your kids’ favorite items.
Here are some activities and toys I find very useful for free play: (some of these links are affiliate links that will help support Hands On As We Grow at no additional charge to you)
- take-a-part toys
- stuffed animals
- Color Wonder drawing paper
- coloring book with crayons
- a flashlight with binoculars for exploring
- tracing pages in a sheet protector
- independent games like the Simon Electronic Memory Game
- an old camera or cell phone for pretend play
- a kids toolbox
- a deck of cards
- learn-to-draw book
5. Puzzle Pail:
Find a pail (or any container, really) and place various puzzles inside.
The difficulty and type of puzzles will vary depending on the age and puzzle skill level of your kids, but this self-guided puzzle trick can make any board tray puzzle an independent, learning activity.
Here’s an organization tip: I like to keep the puzzle pieces inside baggies instead of in the actual puzzle board to prevent them from falling out. I also instruct my kids to work on one puzzle at a time and clean-up that puzzle before moving on to the next.
To add in even more of a twist, you could incorporate a puzzle scavenger hunt as well.
6. Busy B’s Basket:
The Busy B’s are: busy Boxes, busy Bags, or busy Boards. The idea is to give your kiddos time to learn, play, and have fun being busy, while you are being busy yourself.
Or make a busy board that provides great fine motor practice and entertainment.
You could choose to just make one of these Busy B’s or make a few of each to put in a Busy B Basket.
I recommend choosing to prepare Busy B’s that have only a few components or are self-contained to help with clean-up and keeping track of the pieces.
7. Technology Tool-kit:
Kids need exposure to technology if only to learn how to use it responsibly in their world when required. Teaching our kids how to properly use and learn from technology is a great activity for them to take part in.
This technology tool-kit could contain an iPad with fun learning apps, a pretend remote to the television (that symbolizes that it’s showtime!) for some educational shows like Story Bots or Little Einsteins, and some fun learning DVD’s. It could even contain a small computer or learning tablet like the LeapFrog products.
It seems like a lot (especially when you’re parenting a newborn!), but with a session or two of gathering supplies, you can add little peace to your home.
Each of these catchy-phrased, container activity ideas will hopefully help to relieve the stress that comes with a new baby (even if it is stress for a joyful reason).
Most importantly, you’ll be able to give your older kids the hands-on activities that will keep them learning and having fun… even with a new baby in the house.