Must Have Toddler Toys for Independent Play
Here are the good news: we have survived roughly a month in quarantine! Woo-hoo! Here are the bad news: we have no idea how much longer we have to keep this up. If you’re like me, you’re juggling working, childcare and household chores. I’m lucky that I don’t have to do this alone but even with my partner’s help life felt overwhelming in the last month.
Before the quarantine hit, we had a great routine in place. My eldest went to school for half the day, while my youngest stayed home. My youngest typically had a wonderfully long nap that would last until I had to pick up my eldest. This allowed me to get work done and even catch up on some chores around the house. But with the quarantine both kids are at home EVERY DAY and this has created some challenges.
While I’d love to say that I’m the type of parent that scavenges Pinterest for fun and exciting projects, I’m not. I’m the type of parent that loves going on walks with my kids, running around the yard and playing with toys on the floor. But I’m also the type of parent that does not want to dedicate all my free time to entertaining my children, so I had to turn for help to toys that can help do that with minimal (if any) involvement from me.
So here are some great toddler toys that keep my rambunctious boys entertained and playing independently.
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Toddler Toys – Indoor Scooters
We are lucky to live in a house with a lot of space and minimal furniture. This means my kids can scoot and ride around our living room to their heart’s desire (which they frequently do). Here are their favorite ways to move around.
Toddler Toys – Cars and Trucks
My eldest was never into playing with cars until his brother showed interest. I mean what toddler doesn’t immediately, desperately need what his sibling is using. (Insert eye roll emoji). But I have to admit, it’s super fun to watch them roll cars to each other or just run around screaming and pulling their trucks along.
Toddler Toys – Play Kitchen
I really don’t know what it is about play food but kids love it. They also love play kitchens, play vending stands, etc. We have a whole assortment of different cooking accouterments in our house. It’s one of the best ways I’ve seen my sons play cooperatively and works well with both the 4 and 1.5 year old. The slicing food is one of my favorites because it works on fine motor skills. It’s so fun to watch how determined the kids get to line everything up perfectly to be able to slice through the food.
Musical Instruments and Books
Both of my sons love listening to music. Our dinner time has become a symphony of different Disney cartoon songs that my eldest fancies. I really started to feel a strong kinship with Moana over the past month.
But they also enjoy playing with different musical books and instruments. My youngest loves the immediate cause and effect of pressing a button and making his favorite tune come to life.
Toddler Toys – Blocks
Both of my sons love building but I can’t, in good conscience, allow my 1.5 year old to play with tiny Legos unsupervised. Luckily, there are blocks that are much larger and better suited to younger toddler’s needs. Their large shape makes it easy for little hands to manipulate and the older child loves how large his creations turn out. And the bristle blocks are fun because they allow for a different building and sensory experience. I personally love feeling the bristles in my hand.
Educational Toddler Toys
Both my sons loved buttons from the moment they could press them. So they absolutely love playing with these educational toys. My older one learned counting, letters and letter associations with his Leap Frog computer. Now his brother is learning as well. It’s rather fun watching a toddler sitting at his computer with a super serious face, pressing buttons and then trying to mimic the sounds.
While this has been a challenging time for all of us, there have definitely been bright moments. Due to the fact that we still have to keep up with work and household chores, our kids had to learn to be a bit more independent. And it’s beautiful. Watching your kids play side by side (and on rare occasions together) is a marvelous parenting moment. It makes you proud and sad all at the same time. They’re growing up and you get to witness it. Just amazing!
So if you have to resort to more toys or screen time during this difficult time of quarantine, it’s OK. It’s a stressful time for all. Just remember that your kids learning independence skills is very important for their development. And you are not a bad parent for not being able to do it all or feeling like you’re crumbling under all this pressure. Childcare is a lot of work and is very time consuming. You can’t do your other work (well or efficiently) while caring for small children and so it’s perfectly fine for them to play by themselves or be entertained by a screen.
If you’re looking for some more toddler toys, check my post “My Top 10 Toys of Summer for Toddlers” for indoor and outdoor toys to help keep things fun.
May you all stay healthy and safe. And may your children be happy and entertained!