Sometimes we try too hard to keep our kids busy, with arranged play dates, visits to the zoo and the restaurant with the play area and jungle gym. However, sometimes all they need is quality time with us, their parents. A child that gets 20 minutes of undivided attention and eye contact (NO CELL PHONES!) , is often quite happy to play by themselves for a while after that. Here are some ideas for simple active play activities that your kids will love.

  1. Monster chasing game

This one has become a bit of a daily routine in our house when dad comes home from work. It keeps them away from the TV, connects us as a family and brings in a huge amount of laughter, which helps de – stress parents (and kids alike!)

Dad pretends he is the tickle monster sleeping on the bed/couch. Kids pretend to wake up the monster and he then proceeds to chase them and when caught, starts tickling them all over. They have a ‘den’ where they can hide from the monster. Just 5-10 min of this simple game makes the kids feel connected and valued and ‘seen’ which often gets lost in the wash these days…

  1. Holiday household activities

We often go camping for our annual holidays and the kids thrive… they are practically outside all the time, they get really dirty and there is no TV. On top of that, the entire family gets to bed really early, which is so good for the body, mind and soul. The kids get allocated their daily chores, which not only keeps them busy, but helps with lifting the load off mom and dad. The older kids help with cooking and washing up dishes after meals and for the younger ones, they help with packing away cutlery after washing up (good for sorting and eye-hand coordination skills) and tidying up tents and toys.

  1. Outside fun while ‘working’

Whenever we wash our dogs (which is probably not as often as it should be), the kids get involved. Once again, while the little ones can pour the shampoo on after dad has poured the water on, the older ones can rub in the shampoo and help spray it off again. Great for tactile stimulation, to get that shampoo, water and dog hair in-between your fingers and all over your hands. And the fun and laughter of getting soaked, after the event, when the dogs decide to shake off all the excess water, is priceless.

Other day-to-day outside activities you can involve your kids in, are gardening, feeding the dogs, and washing the car or they can make their own little car wash for their toys.

Even pretend gardening can keep them happy and busy for a long time. Just grab a few old carrots and potatoes, some compost, an old plastic container, mini gardening spade and fork and a watering can.   

  1. Water fun

Now in this exceptionally hot summer we’re experiencing this year, one of the easiest ways to keep a toddler busy, is with water. Put out a big bowl/bucket of water, or a small blow up pool somewhere in the shade. Fill up with water. Put out different sized jugs, cups and common kitchen utensils like a funnel. Add some bath toys and beach toys, like a small fishing net, and get them to ‘catch’ the ducks or fish or any other bath toys (this is good for eye-hand coordination skills). They can play with it for hours on end, while you can sit back, watch them and relax, having a well-deserved cup of tea!