Blog written by California Beach Co.
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that it can get a little taxing for the whole family when you’re cooped up inside. And, unfortunately, that has probably meant a massive increase in screentime for both us and our kiddos - and we’re sure you’re as sick of it as we are.
If you find yourself lacking on things to do with kids on rainy days (or any day), you’ve found the perfect place! We here at The California Beach Co are experts at keeping your little ones immersed, educated, and away from technology for a little while - all with items you can find around the house!
We’ve got the scoop on kids entertainment for infants and tots. From sensory bin toys for the little one to quick games to learn with older toddlers, we’ll show you how to keep your kids entertained with whatever you have at home.
Whether you’re working from home and need some easy games to keep your kid occupied or you’re trying to create a whole day filled with family entertainment, you can do it all with knick knacks and random stuff you have at home (and a few other tools you may want as well)!
Let’s get started!
What’s so Bad About Screen Time?
Before we get into everything, let’s talk about why we should put in all this work in the first place. Kids entertainment isn’t always easy, but putting them in front of an iPad with Cocomelon sure is.
So what’s the big deal? We’re on screens all the time, why can’t kids be?
Well, moderation is key. If you need to set your little one in front of a screen to get some work done or keep them quiet while you make dinner, that’s alright - as long as you don’t make a habit of it.
However, the long term effects of constant screen time can be extremely damaging for young children. (Also, it’s not too great for us adults either, unfortunately).
Here are a few key points to consider when giving your child screen time for kids entertainment:
It prevents children from learning about their surroundings. Babies and toddlers develop rapidly. Young kids (especially those under 3 years old) often learn by exploring their environment, watching their parents, and imitating the adults around them. According to the New York Presbyterian Hospital, too much screen time (and no family fun time) prevents young kids from learning to experience and observe the real world! Because they’re not engaging with anything, they can’t learn about anything.
It impacts their ability to learn. Those looking for how to keep kids entertained while educating them should note that even educational screen time can be damaging. Studies have shown that children (especially those under 2) learn less from any video than they do when learning from their parents or another adult, simply by observing the world around them.
- It can slow down speaking milestones. Toddlers and infants who spend too much time on a screen may not learn to speak as quickly, because they’re not interacting with adults and other children. We (babies and adults) learn much more quickly from another person than we do from a screen!
The Benefits of Childhood Games & Family Time
So, we know screens aren’t ideal. But just how important is making sure we get plenty of time with our kids when they’re young? Well, according to science, super important. Who knew crafting goofy toys to play with our kiddos could be so impactful?
To cite a few examples, spending time with our kids and taking part in family fun time can help to reduce the risk of behavioral issues like violence and eventual substance abuse, and provides an outlet for them to express themselves and release pent-up emotions - something they can’t do with YouTube.
Moreover, teaching your children some of the childhood games you played as a tot establishes a sense of connection and comradery in the family!
Here are a few other great benefits of family time:
- It boosts self confidence
- It can help kids learn parenting skills for the future
- It teaches conflict resolution
- It helps children perform well in an academic setting
Overall, family time reduces stress and enhances your little one’s physical health!
Obviously, there are a ton of benefits to hanging with your kiddo, even for an hour! So now that we know that, let’s get into the main point of this blog: how to keep your kids entertained with whatever you’ve got laying around!
Fun Ways to Keep Your Kids Entertained With Household Items
Any seasoned parent will tell you that you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on the latest and greatest toys when you can keep your kid engaged with everyday household items!
These are some of the best outdoor and indoor activities for toddlers and under that will keep your kiddo engaged, educated, and entertained! All of these activities can be done with things you typically have around the house, so there’s no need to make an expensive Target run. Let’s get playing!
1. Create a Sensory Bin
Wondering how to keep your kids entertained in a (relatively) mess-free way? Sensory bin toys are the solution - and a godsend for those with young toddlers. In short, sensory bins can be any small bin or container filled with materials, objects, and textures for your little one to play with. These things can be anything from water beads and slime to dried beans and dried pasta! As long as it’s safe to touch, smell, and non-toxic to eat (you know how kids get), you can put it in the bin and watch your child have a field day!
If you’re worried about a mess, we suggest putting a tarp or blanket underneath the bin (if you don’t have one or don’t want to get a blanket too dirty, we have lots of play blankets here - they’re perfect for indoors and outdoors, and made for messes).
2. Play with Pots and Pans
It’s true that not every adult wants their child rummaging around the cabinets and making a mess/finding something they shouldn’t, but sometimes you just gotta let your kid play with the thing they want to play with (so long as it’s harmless, of course).
Surprisingly, just playing with your pans and pots can be one of the most fun things to do with kids at home. Banging on pans with wooden spoons lets them release pent-up energy, helps them understand sounds, and connects their physical actions to auditory and visual stimulus. It may be a bit loud, but trust us - this can keep a kid entertained for hours.
3. Break Out the Water
For those seeking knowledge on how to keep kids entertained in the summer, the water is your window to wisdom! (You can also do this indoors, but it might get a little messy. For those who don’t have an outdoor space, we recommend using our Pop N’ Go playpen mattress and one of our soft mattress covers. It gives your kid a comfortable place to relax and play, and the water-resistant finish leaves you with a mess-free home!)
If you’ve got a hose, take your kiddo out for some sprinkler time. If you’ve got some spare balloons, let your kids fill them up with water and watch as they grow and shrink! You can also just fill up a big bin with water and some bath toys and watch them go nuts! Water is virtually harmless, and provides endless hours of fun for young kids.
4. Take it Back to the Classics
Did you have any childhood games growing up that didn’t require many materials? Incorporate those into your child’s life for some top-tier family entertainment. Things like making sidewalk drawings, grabbing some kids art supplies and having an art day, playing hopscotch, or even making “potions” with what you find in the yard (so long as they’re safe to touch) can all be gateways to outdoor (and indoor) exploration for both you and your little one.
Entertaining kids is always touted as being both difficult and expensive - but in reality, it doesn’t have to be either of those things. We hope we’ve helped you find some new ways to spend time with your kids in a cost-effective and engaging way for both of you. If you’re looking for more tips, products for little kids, or any other info, check out our website!
Time for family fun!
Contributing Writer: Aurora Detor