Last Updated on March 8, 2021 by Creative Parenting
If you’re like us, each weekend you’re trying to figure out how to entertain a toddler!
Easier said than done.
There’s always so much to try and get done…
You might feel like you have zero time to figure out how to entertain a toddler.
But weekends can be awesome (and not an overwhelming drag) if you take a few simple steps.
That’s what we cover in this post. Your toddler has such a short attention span they move lickety-split from one activity to the next.
That’s why you gotta keep a lot of activity ideas handy.
Let’s get started!
How To Entertain A Toddler
First, you’ve gotta set yourself up for success…
This means getting your brain in gear.
That’s why you should:
#1 Set Your Auto Brew Coffee Timer To EXACTLY 15 Minutes Before Your Alarm
Wait what? What does this have to do with keeping a toddler entertained?
Well, this tip is to help you kick your brain in gear so you’ll keep your sanity all day.
It’s a simple thing, but waking up with your coffee brewed and waiting is the best feeling in the world.
It’ll take your morning to the next level…
Why? The Folgers commercial was right.
More seriously though: It sets the tone for the day. And it’s one less hassle you have to deal with in the morning.
You wake up, smell the coffee, roll out of bed. Walk to the kitchen. Grab your cup. And once the caffeine kicks in? You’ll hit the ground running.
Now, if you’re a coffee addict, this won’t be the last cup of the day.
After all, if your weekend is all about how to entertain a toddler, then you’re gonna need a lotta coffee.
That’s why you’ll like our next tip…
#2. Calculate The Fastest Route To Your Favorite Coffee Shop
If you drink multiple cups of coffee a day, consider for a minute how much time you spend acquiring your coffee.
After that tasty cup you had at home, you’re going to want some more. Eventually, you’ll hear the siren song of the “Green Giant”…
And if you spend hours each week running errands, there’s a way you can make this more enjoyable and free up time on your weekend.
Figure out the shortest, speediest driving (or walking) path to your favorite Starbucks.
If you’re gonna keep your toddler entertained and make it a great day, it’s worth it to figure out ways to save yourself as much time as possible.
Why waste it driving around unnecessarily?
So figure out that quick route, grab some more caffeine for a super jolt, and head on to the next activity…
#3. Don’t Forget: Your Local Taxes Pay For This “Free” Playplace
You could also call this section “How To Entertain A Toddler For FREE.”
Because let’s be clear; The last thing you wanna do with your toddler is spend a bunch of unnecessary money.
Here’s the deal:
Some of the BEST things we can do with our kids are FREE.
One of our favorites is the local museum. If you’re looking for an awesome tip on how to entertain a toddler, taking advantage of local, “free” venues is one of the best recommendations we can make. You see, museums have an advantage if you’re on a budget.
If you pay taxes, then you’ve already bought the ticket. Getting in doesn’t require that you spend any more money.
Having a kid is expensive enough already, right? Not everybody can afford luxury activities.
But we all can afford the free ones. So make sure you’re not overlooking this “free” community resource.
Even if you’re in a small town, there might be bigger cities nearby with museums you can check out.
Another awesome benefit of museums? They’re perfect for winter.
Simply finding a large indoor space for your toddler to run or crawl around will do wonders for your morale.
- Look for fun, FREE activities in your town
- Find museums close to you, and then:
- See if they’ve got programs, get there early & BEAT the rush so you can:
#4. Get Your Toddler Excited About Lunch And Put A Smile On His Face
After you check out that local museum (or aquarium or wherever), it’s time to head home for a fun and special lunch.
Figuring out how to entertain a toddler isn’t only about activities. You can keep ’em entertained with food too!
Since you were working (or busy) during the week…
Plan something fun for lunch that’s different from what you usually feed ’em during the week. Don’t just make it any old boring lunch. WIth some of that time you saved by not making coffee, you can use that time to make lunch special.
And remember! FUN doesn’t have to be unhealthy.
Quite the opposite, in fact! For example, last week we decided to grill out for lunch. It was a bit cooler, so why not? It’s been so hot during the day…
So we picked up some bratwurst to grill out. And you know what? Our toddler loved it! He smiled stretched wide across his face.
The smile was almost as big as the one he has when we play our favorite indoor activity (which you can too):
#5. After Lunch? If They Can Walk, They Can Play Chase
We love to play chase with our 15-month-old. And he loves it even more. But it can quickly get repetitive.
Here’s how you can make it MORE fun:
If you’re stuck indoors…
Make Home a Chase-able Space:
When our guy was really little we got a play enclosure that he could safely stay in. That was when he first started standing up. But then he learned to walk and would get frustrated being stuck in a play pin, so we had to make some changes to our living room.
Because we didn’t want him running off to other parts of the house, this meant walling off half of our living room. Now we keep the doors closed and have a baby gate to the kitchen. With these changes, he can run around as much as he wants!
And it’s worked great. When he’s in the mood for fun and games, we like to play chase around the area. I’ve got at least 5 home videos now where he’s giggling his head off.
And since it’s now a safe place to run around and play, we don’t worry about him getting hurt. Sure he will fall over by himself, but there’s nothing major to worry about.
#6. For Dinner? Let Yourself Have This Popular Junk Food You Ate In College
Since you’re on a “how to entertain a toddler” mission and filling up your weekend with a bunch of activities, one thing you can do so you don’t go crazy is to make dinner come together FAST.
What better way to do that than indulging in junk food that’s popular with college kids: Pizza!
Now, when I was in my 20s I ate a lot of junk pizza. Mostly the cheap kind that was made out of questionable ingredients…
But since you’re a parent now, you probably don’t want to feed junk to your kids.
These days I prefer quality over cheap, and tasty ingredients over crummy ones.
It’s a great way to enjoy junk food, but to make it a healthier option.
Plus, it’s an easy food to prepare on the weekends. And it doesn’t have to be complicated. Or unhealthy.
Personally, I think my go-to pizza recipe is pretty healthy.
Cauliflower crust. Red sauce. Light cheese (or non-dairy cheese if you prefer). And TONS of veggies.
And let’s not forget my FAVORITE pairing with Pizza…
#7. Then It’s Time To Treat Yourself To A Glass Of Wine
I’m not gonna lie…
If you’re looking for how to entertain a toddler, it’s also worth remembering:
Keeping them happy also means you gotta keep yourself happy too.
And one way to keep your spirits up is through the occasional high quality yet small glass of wine.
We’re serious wine fans. But we usually drink small quantities. Quality over quantity in my view.
We have mini cocktail glasses we got as a gift that we use for the wine. Since we do buy it regularly, we realized it was worth it to save even a few bucks off each bottle.
And we figured out a way to save 4-5 dollars on a bottle, getting better qualities of wine for a better cost. No, it’s not a huge money saver, but it helps when you like wine as we do!
This past year we discovered Winc. A wine startup. We super love it. They have an algorithm that helps you figure out what your preferences are.
So even if you’ve not been a wine drinker, but want to become more educated it can help you! Plus, you’ll save a few bucks in the process.
That way after your little one goes to bed you can treat yourself to a nice and high-quality but small glass of wine.
Now you might be excited to wine down…
#8. But Don’t Forget To Put The Toddler To Bed At A Reasonable Hour
If you haven’t sleep trained your little one…
And you’re coming up on the 1-year mark?
Now’s the time.
Having a sleep-trained child means the difference between getting yourself to bed at a normal hour vs. being up half the night.
Plus, a BiG part of how to entertain a toddler is making sure they are getting good sleep at night so they aren’t cranky during the day.
I know. It’s tough. The anticipation of it alone stressed us out. When we started talking about it seriously, we weren’t even getting enough sleep then!
So it was hard to think about how we could find time in our busy schedules to sleep train (and lose even more sleep!). I had imagined it would take AT LEAST a week…
So we kept putting it off. There was always a reason why. But then we had a checkup with our pediatrician. And she encouraged us to go for it.
So we did. We took a Friday off from work. We thought we’d be up all night.
We did our usual routine, put the baby to bed, and started the clock.
We had decided to use a common sleep training method that we wrote about here.
So here’s what happened:
He cried. We went in and checked on him (using the Ferber method). And we kept checking. The first interval was 15 minutes.
He cried for the whole 15 minutes. We checked, consoled him, and went back to our rooms.
And then something magical happened…
He fell asleep! And we slept for several hours! By the 3rd night of sleep training, he was sleeping through the night.
What’s the takeaway?
If you’ve been putting it off… just go for it!
It’s understandable if you’re feeling nervous about it, but remember this:
Once you sleep train your child, you’ll be able to hit the hay at a decent hour.
Even more so, you’ll have more time for yourself in the evening. You’ll be able to relax…
#9. And Fire Up A Comedy Special For Yourself
You’ve got the baby down to sleep and now you’re ready to relax, and you can stay up a little bit later than you usually do…What to do??
Why watch a movie of course! Old classics like Mrs. Doubtfire or Vacation with Chevy Chase are great. But consider this:
When did you last watch a comedy special only for yourself?
Far too many parents get sucked into only watching kid stuff. After all, when you’re figuring out how to entertain a toddler, the temptation to give ’em a screen is always there.
But forget about kids’ shows for a minute and remember:
Parenting comedy is a thing. And it can be amazingly hilarious. Find the comedians who tell jokes about what you’re struggling with.
For example, one we watched recently was a new mom. And she talked about the challenges of parenting and childbirth. And we laughed really hard! Because it resonated.
So do yourself a favor when you’re winding down after the wee one goes to sleep, and take some time to laugh! It puts things in perspective.
Last but not least…
#10. And Get Yourself To Bed By 10 p.m.
This is key. If you’re going to have a great weekend, you gotta go to bed. And that starts with:
Sticking to a routine. Have a winding down ritual. Get that precious sleep. If you don’t have a wind-down ritual…
Here are some tips from what we do:
- Turn OFF blue light sources (use blue light auto-shift on your phone)
- Have an occasional glass of wine (but don’t overdo it)
- Take a bath to relax
- Do 15-20 mins of relaxing Yoga
- Look at pictures of your baby
- Cuddle with your spouse
- Do some deep breathing
- Keep a yoga mat near your bed to stretch before you climb in
When we make a point do at least some of these tips..
We usually sleep MUCH better.
Give it a try?
That’s pretty much it. Aside from these, some other things that really help are, exercising hard during the week, drinking plenty of water, and not consuming too much caffeine after 2 or 3 p.m.
… And I’m ending it here.
As always, thanks for reading it! Save this pin so you can refer back.
And let us know:
What are your favorite tips for how to entertain a toddler? Drop us a comment and let us know below.
Till next time!
Resources for MORE ideas: