I have found in my own experience, that if I do not make time to provide my kids with mind engaging activities each day, or outlets for all that energy that is when the whining and the tantrum throwing starts.
Providing such activities does not mean you need to go out and by fancy, expensive toys and supplies. Most things you can create with things you have lying around your home.
Below are some of the favourite activities my kids like to do.
How to Entertain a Toddler
Making play dough is really a simple way to let your little ones creative juices take hold. Spend some time with them showing them things they can do. Provide some cups, a plastic knife, buttons and anything else you think is suitable. Once they get going, leave them to it let them be the creators. My Son went and got the pasta machine out and spent a good 30mins making playdough pasta.
Involve them in Household Chores
Auron would whine and cry and complain about wanting to do the dishes. Finally I just gave in and let him do it. I was surprised at how well he did! Sure there was excess water on the ground but nothing that wasn't able to be cleaned up in 2mins with a towel (truth be told the floors probably needed a clean anyway!) We have extended our dishwashing routine to him washing and me drying. It no only provides him with new skills and me with clean dishes but also an opportunity to talk with him just enjoy being his mum.
Auron also loves doing laundry. I have often set up a little clothes line for him to hang his washing on. He is also becoming an expert folder!
Get messy with finger paint. I bought a big roll of paper from IKEA and just let the kids loose with the finger paint. Although a bit cautious to start with, Auron was entertained for a full hour with this. I had great fun too. There's nothing better than getting messy when you're a kid.
Auron LOVED this activity when he was around 18months. It develops great fine motor skills and gets that brain working. As they get older you can get them to start sorting into colours.
Wooden Memory Blocks
I made these for about a year ago now and they continue to be Auron's FAVOURITE toy. He will get them out every day without fail. Memory isn't usually his first choice to play with them though. Most often you will find him using them to make a track for his cars, or stacking them up, and many many other various games. We have about 24 of them.
I will do a tutorial later this week on how to make them.
Making coloured rice and pasta takes about 20mins to make and will last for ever! Kids seem to love the texture. I put the rice in a large container and added some small plastic animals. My kids love to dig around with their hands or other instrument to find the animals and have fun naming the ones they find. As for the pasta, I use the pasta with holes in it to practice fine motor skills by threading them onto pipe cleaners. You can also use the pasta to practice colour sorting.
If you are going to invest in toys, make sure they are going to be worth your money. You want something that you child will play with for years to come, not something that is going to be thrown to the side after a day or week. I believe blocks are a great investment. They are actually one of the few toys we have purchased for our kids. The promote creativity, help with fine motor skills and give that brain a good work out. They will also last you through many ages. Toddlers all the way through to older kids all love to build with blocks.
This is along the lines of play dough but with twist. With cloud dough it acts just like wet sand! You do everything with it that you can do with wet sand. So get you sand building skills out!
Last but not least, read to your child. Do it everyday, multiple times a day. It will increase your child's vocabulary, their brain power, creativity, imagination, and develop a deep love for reading and learning. This is important for all kids but more so boys who often fall behind girls in reading as they get older. Aside from the mental benefits reading provides it also allows you to create a wonderful bond with your child. I swear there a few things better than curling up with your little one and reading a good story. It doesn't have to stop when they get older either. I have great memories of my mum reading to me well into my teens.