When the kids are young it is easy to skip over family time and just try to coast through the day until bedtime. After a long week at work and/or taking care of kids it can be tough to not get a break, even on the weekends because of the constant needs of babies & toddlers.
Believe me, I am right there with you! I know how hard it can be; but I have also noticed that when my husband and I are more intentional with our family time and we don’t just try to spend the day “relaxing” on the couch (any parent of toddlers know that attempt never ends well) we all end up having so much more fun!
Since I have found this to be true in my own family, I thought I would compile a list of fun, easy, toddler-friendly activities to share with all of you. Even just 30 minutes or an hour of time spent together as a family can bring so much joy to the day and it’s a great habit to start early.
As our kids have grown we’ve noticed it can be challenging to find activities that work for every child’s age. Our son is at a different place developmentally than our daughter is, and it takes some extra thought to find an activity they will both love.
These are our favorites…
Play a game – Games can be lame, or they can be some of the BEST memories you make with your kids. Don’t worry, I’m not talking about a boring game at all, play one of these favorite board games for families. Some are silly, some are active and some are strategic, but they are great fun for all ages! (My husband and I even play a few of them after the kids are in bed, we love them so much!) See our full list of the best board games for families here.
Go for a Walk – I will admit, this is our default. My husband and I love to walk, so when we’re sitting around bored at home, it just makes sense for us to go on a family walk. It’s a fun way to exercise together, it wears the toddler our and we get in some good conversation along the way as well. Definitely a favorite activity!
Bake Cookies – There’s nothing like sweets to make a boring day better! You could make the dough and then get every one involved decorating sugar cookies or make a simpler recipe like oatmeal raisin chocolate chip and let the kids take turns adding ingredients and mixing. It will be a messy day, but a fun memory !
The Playground – Not necessarily the most innovative of locations, but going as a family can make it exciting! Bring a kite to fly together or bring beach toys & dig in the dirt. It doesn’t have to be an extravagant or expensive outing for the kid to have an amazing time playing with mommy & daddy.
Zoo Day – Consider investing in a membership to the local zoo or children’s museums. Most offer a yearly family membership that more than pays for itself after a visit or two. Using a membership also eliminates the stress of trying to get your “money’s worth” out of each zoo trip.
We have been able to go to our zoo for just 2 hours or so and enjoy walking around as a family, without feeling like we wasted a lot of $ on tickets because we didn’t stay the whole day.
If you have more time, try getting a city pass to yours or a close by city. These are a great value as they provide you with discounts to multiple attractions in your area. For example, with a City Pass in Houston you can see the Space Center, the Downtown Aquarium, the Museum of Natural Science, the Zoo and the children’s museum (there are a few more options too). It’s a great way to have an epic staycation with your kids!
Pjs, Popcorn & a Movie – Another tried & true idea. Movie nights are always a fun tradition and there are a lot of new kids movies that aren’t much of a sacrifice for parents to watch. Lately we’ve enjoyed the Lorax, Brave and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Each movie is hilarious (both for kids and adults) as well as brightly colored to hold the attention of littlest ones.
Start a Family Garden – It doesn’t have to be large an elaborate (though it could be!). You could do something small like keeping a few potted plants to keep on the porch. We have 3 pots on the balcony of our apartment, but our son loves watering them every day and watching them grow. Tip: this is an adorable, small potted plant.
This is a simple activity, but one that can be done together & it teaches responsibility too! If you are doing a bigger garden in your backyard, check out this adorable gardening equipment for kids/toddlers!
Family Craft – Thanks to Pinterest there are so many family craft ideas out there right now, branch out and try something new like this great family handprint craft or this Simple Bird Feeder Tutorial or do some finger print art! Have fun getting creative (and scouring pinterest) together and creating some art to display in your home.
Go on a Scavenger Hunt – Split up into teams and search for special objects on a list. You could make your own list to share or challenge each other by making lists for the opposite “team”. Meat up at the end to compare “treasures”.
Go for Ice Cream – Many places offer 99 cent ice cream cones (burger king, wendys & sonic all have them), take advantage of the deal and make it a family outing. This one is sure to be a favorite for the kiddos!
Host a Sing-a-Long – There’s no denying that children love to sing. Take 30 minutes or so to sing silly songs together like “the wheels on the bus” or “head & shoulders”. Be ready to giggle together as you create your own melodies or words. You may not be the best singer, but to your kids, you are awesome.
I hope this list has got you planning a fun family day with your young kiddos! What is your favorite thing to do on a family day? I’d love more ideas!!!
Looking for more encouragement for your day, check out this post about what my friend without kids taught me about parenting my toddlers.
Looking for more fun activities with kids? Try this fun and easy way to to create personalized coloring sheets! Click the image to view the tutorial.
Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom says
We like “dance parties”. We also like to build with blocks together, playdough, colouring and painting. Forts are fun too!
Wishing you a lovely day!
sounds like you guys have lots of fun! We haven’t done many forts yet, I’m going to have to try that soon!
Abby @ Just a Girl and Her Blog says
Great list! You’re right–it’s definitely tempting to just “hang out” rather than be intentional about spending time together, but the rewards are so great when you do! I have boys, so one of their favorite things is to “wrestle.” It wears them out and gets them giggling, that’s for sure! :) I popped over from Family Fun Friday–thanks for sharing!
wrestling sounds fun! we do tickle wrestling right now with our little guy. He loves it!!!
Carrie from Carrie This Home says
I love all these suggestions! I love to bake cookies with my almost 4 year old daughter. I’m hoping it becomes something special that we can do together as the years go by.
Sounds like you are building wonderful memories !
I love these, too! Our girls are currently plagued by allergies, so we are constantly attempting to find indoor family things. But the best ones are the ones that just pop up (like impromtu dance parties or aiplane rides with Daddy).
impromptu dance parties are the BEST!
Love the idea of the zoo membership, it’s so hard to spend the whole day out but wanted to get my money’s worth. I’d never thought about it that way… if only that worked for buffets, lol.
Not sure if you can in other states, but in middle Georgia you can get free admission into the Atlanta zoo once a year just by checking out their DVD at our local library. We definitely take advantage of this amazing offer!
Great ideas! Love the sing-a-long idea especially. My daughters love standing “on stage” singing to everyone!
These are all great ideas!
We used to go for hikes all the time when the kids were little. When they were really little, the youngest would be in a backpack on our backs! I also used to do scavenger hunts with them. They loved them! Visiting from the Ladies Only Blog Share LOBS party!
Angie @ Burton Avenue says
What a great list. Sometimes I can’t think of what to do with my little kids, so this list will come in handy!
A Little R & R says
These are all wonderful ideas. Our family does a lot of these regularly. My husband’s job gives their employees free tickets to the zoo…and that’s what we’re planning to do soon. I can’t wait! We have a really fun zoo and I know my kids will love it.
Betsy @ BPhotoArt.com says
Thanks for sharing these great ideas. Sometimes it’s tough to think on the fly when helping a toddler self-entertain :)
Great Ideas! We love baking cookies and having dance parties. Popcorn & Movie nights are our specialities. We even have family slumber parties! :D Thanks for sharing… Happy SITSSharefest!
The lovely one says
These are all great ideas, and they’re not limited to toddlers. My 8 year old would like doing these activities with me just as much!
I enjoyed seeing these ideas. We use many of these. Other ideas we enjoy: Lincoln log building, LEGOs ( my littles use Mega Blocks), cooking a special dinner and inviting the grandparents over (someone makes placemats, fold the napkins special, etc.), and marathon movie night. We also find sleeping bags and fold out the “couch bed” and start a series of TV shows or a trilogy of movies (or whatever) and enjoy watching until the kids are all asleep. Then they spend the night wherever they ended up.
Natasha in Oz says
Thanks so much for sharing this post at my Say G’Day Saturday linky party. I’m so thrilled you joined in!
This week’s party has just started so please pop by and say g’day when you have a chance!
Best wishes for a lovely weekend,
Natasha in Oz
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