Winter can be a challenging time when trying to keep little ones entertained.  They have a short attention span, which is exactly as it should be – they have a lot to learn in a short space of time!   But from a parenting point of view it can be challenging.

Wrapping up warm and taking a trip outside can really help burn off excess energy and calm parental nerves – remember the old saying “there’s no such thing as bad weather only bad clothes”.

Once you’ve dressed everyone up, and maybe undressed again to visit the smallest room, and dressed again, your trip to the local park can use up the best part of the morning.  By the time you return, the toys regarded as boring can suddenly seem very interesting again.

But what happens in the afternoon?  It can appear to be a long dark corridor with no light at the end – unless you rediscover your inner child and start looking at the world (however small) with junior eyes.

Kitchen cupboards are a great source of interest but we need to move on from bashing pots with wooden spoons (otherwise that headache that’s threatening could take over).  How about pulling out the colander and using it to string coloured pipe cleaners or laces through?  This is a great activity for developing fine motor skills.  As are those wonderful wooden jigsaws with the little button on top, which also develop hand eye co-ordination and imaginative play.  Keep a couple stashed away in a cupboard and bring them out only occasionally, then they are very much more interesting.

The next thing to search for in your kitchen cupboards, apart from the makings of a coffee for yourself, are the ingredients for play dough.  It might be an idea to prep this up while your toddler is playing after their walk or even the night before.  Here’s a recipe:

Ingredients 

  • 250g plain flour
  • 50g salt
  • 140ml water
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • a few drops food colouring (if you’re feeling creative you could even try 2 colours)

Method
Ready in:1hr 

  1. Mix together the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the water and oil.
  2. Knead well until mixture is smooth about 10 mins. You might need to add a bit more flour or water until the consistency is smooth but not sticky.
  3. Add food colouring and knead until the colour is fully blended.
  4. Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until chilled enough to use.

Playdough is ideal for 2½ to 3 year olds. The salt in the recipe is helpful for stopping them eating it!  Lay out a board or mat for the dough to be played on, which helps to contain the mess.  Cookie cutters are ideal for making it really interesting.  Encouraging this type of play helps develop strength in your toddlers hands and just think what it’s doing to their imagination!

By the time you’re finished clearing up you both probably deserve a rest with a cuddle up and a flick through your favourite book.  You’ve achieved a lot on what could otherwise have been considered a problem day. 

Well done!