TV-Free Ideas for Your Toddler

Not turning on the TV in the early hours of the day may feel next to impossible to the exhausted parent. Here are some suggestions for active pursuits, and while they do take parental energy, they result in more engaged parent/child interactions (and who knows, perhaps, your child will learn to sleep longer if the excitement of the tube is no longer available).

  1. Work on age-appropriate puzzles. If you can, you may want to purchase new puzzles for this week.
  2. Make a puzzle. Help your child make a puzzle by cutting an old photo, greeting card, or calendar picture into large pieces. Let him or her put the pieces back together on a sheet of paper.
  3. Read aloud. Get new books out of the library. Read familiar favorites. Help your child make an indoor fort using a sheet, blanket, or towel. "Build" it over chairs. Let your child read books with a flashlight inside the fort.
  4. Read a map. Take a look at any map, and, depending on the type of map, point out major roads, highways, exits, mountains, bridges, bodies of water.
  5. Organize photo albums. Put photos into albums. This depends on your child's age. (If your child is too young you may end up with scattered, chewed on photos -- so be careful.)
  6. Write letters. Compose letters to friends and family, detailing your week's past activities. Little children can be encouraged to write or use stickers to help spell out words.
  7. Dance to Music. Let your child draw a flag on a piece of paper. Attach a stick to one end, turn on the radio to lively music, and let your child march around the house carrying the flag.
  8. Organize closets. Have younger children help you sort and older children can be assigned a particular closet to do by themselves.
  9. Play trains, blocks, or arts and crafts. Challenge your imaginations. Here are two quick ideas:
    1. Make a bouquet of flowers out of opened-up cupcake liners. Write a message at the center of each flower for someone special. Glue or tape a straw or popsicle stick for a stem. Tie the flowers together with a ribbon.
    2. Make a collage by cutting out pictures of healthy foods from magazines and glueing them on construction paper. Then try to eat those healthy foods throughout the day.
  10. Plan the night before. Take a few minutes to discuss the routine with your child before bed the night before. For example, "In the morning, we aren't going to watch TV. When we wake up, we'll get washed and dressed, eat breakfast and then do x, y or z."
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