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How do you keep your kids happy while you’re busy? As a mum there comes a time when we actually have to get things done. From washing to work, cooking to catching our breath, we need to be able to have some time to do what we need to. Unfortunately for us though, it’s not always a concept our children understand or grasp willingly.


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So how do you keep toddlers and pre-schoolers entertained so you can you get through your to-dos? Here are five different ways.

1. Imaginative play

Kids love to pretend and role play, and they can be absorbed in their little stories sometimes for hours – giving you a chance to get things done. So to help their little imaginations run wild, keep a box of imaginative play ideas that are themed around things they enjoy.

There are hundreds of ideas that can keep them busy and entertained from astronauts exploring space, pirates sailing the seas hunting for treasure, a jungle safari or superheroes, to mermaids in an underwater garden, fairies in an enchanted forest, tea parties, teddy bear picnics or a business owner running their own mini office.

To make their play even more real and exciting help them with outfits and props, like a big box for a rocket, washing basket with a broom mast and pillow case flag for a pirate ship, or a desk or small table complete with filing trays, paper, pens and envelopes for their office. Whatever the idea is though, you want to make sure it is suited to their age group and easy for them to keep playing independently of you.

 2. Adventurous play

One of the best ways to keep kids busy is to keep their play different and exciting. So appeal to their adventurous spirit by having some more active play activities to break up their usual play routine and hold their attention.

Set up a treasure hunt (inside or outside) where they have to find certain objects, help them build a cubby or fort to play in, set-up a ball pit, or an obstacle course (inside or outside) that they have to navigate through – or just play with for younger ones.

3. Quiet play

There are times when you need quiet, like when you are working from home or on the phone. But quiet doesn’t always come to easily for toddlers and pre-schoolers!

Thankfully though there are some activities that can keep them a little quieter while still keeping them busy. Puzzles (large floor puzzles are great – especially if there is a younger sibling who will put small pieces in their mouth), mazes, memory, look-and-find books and shape sorters are all great for keeping little ones occupied, developing their problem solving skills and lowering the noise level.

4. Messy Play

They love it and we hate it for the extra mess, though give them permission to get a little dirty, and they will play for ages. Kids just love playing with messy, slimy and squishy things and can have so much fun doing it. Some ideas include painting, digging in dirt or sand, Play Doh, making mud pies and playing with jelly.

While the intention is for your kids to play independently, keep in mind that messy activities normally require closer supervision so you will want to be close by – just not in the firing line!

5. Outside play

Let the kids run off some energy outside while you get some work done. From sprinklers, kiddie pools and water play under supervision in summer months, to sandpits, bubbles, drawing on cement with chalk, balls and other outdoor toys they can play with all year round, outside play can produce hours of fun and wear them so they will have a nap or at least sleep well that night.

What activities keep your kids happy and give you a chance to get through your to-dos?

  • Luckily my daughter always loved reading, colouring, writing… She’s very calm and she loves her quiet time alone. :-)

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  • Imaginative and quiet playtime is the most favoured around the house.

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  • i love letting my kids play outside in summer. they love the sprinkler and t is good for the littlies. don’t forget the sunscreen etc

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  • this is very handy to have with my extremely needy little one she hates playing alone

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  • My kids love messy, loud play the best – but this mum prefers quite play!

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  • I grew up behind a shop counter, literally! My parents owned two shops in an arcade, this meant I was left to amuse myself most if the time, it can be done lol!

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  • A good list of types of play, but I would be needing to check every few minutes if the play was out of my sight. Scary what lengths my motivated, imaginative , adventurous little treasure hunters would go to, they would literally leave no stone unturned, no barrier unclimbed to find the treasure! Better for all concerned at this stage if important tasks are done during nap time : )

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  • Some good ideas, but I find my little ones need supervision or would be up to their shoulders in mischief.


    • haha I know how you feel there, if they have the opportunity they will run amuck :/

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  • Great list of activities for kids to keep them busy.

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  • my grand daughter chooses outside play over anything else

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  • Great article thanks for the read. Some useful ideas.

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  • love letting them play outside and have a big craft tub for rainy days

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  • Few good reminders, I do these sometimes but mostly let them decide what they want to do. Good read thanks

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  • Oddly enough I thought having 2 kids would make it easier, they might play together allowing me little pockets of time to do things. Seems to have worked out the opposite way, they need more constant monitoring and mediation. Oh well, that’s motherhood isn’t it?

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  • If it’s house work and he interested I usually let him join in! An extra pair of hands for me?!

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