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Fun Activities for an Only Child

The following is written by LifeasMOM contributing writer, Prerna:

“Is it easier for you to work from home since you have just the one daughter?”

This well-meaning remark actually made me stop and think. Really, is it easier for me? Well, actually it may seem easier but in reality, it is no different.

While the challenges of multiple kids are definitely many, the challenges of an only child aren’t any less. You see, when you have an only child, he or she does not have siblings to hang out with, squabble with or basically, grow up with.

He has YOU.

Keeping an only child engaged and entertained while you try to juggle work, home and other odd jobs in your life as mom needs a fair amount of planning and thinking.

Since my husband and I have a home-based business and an only child in tow, I’ve needed to come up with a few ways to keep our daughter occupied while we work:

{While I use these ideas to keep my only child engaged, I’m sure you can use them just as well with multiple kids as well.}

1. Pretend Play

Pretend play is a fantastic way to keep only kids engaged. Our daughter, particularly, likes to play school or hold a tea party with her dolls for company. She also, likes to be a car driver and vroom around with a toy car or two.

2. Pretend Play Kitchen, Doctor and Cleaning Sets

To add to the pretend play fun, we have a few toy sets that she can use when she tires of just playing with dolls and cars. The pretend kitchen and cleaning sets are her favorites followed by her doctor set. She can spend a couple of hours cooking, cleaning and tending to “patients”.

The best part is that I can set her kitchen up close to my desk and keep sampling her “dishes” while I work. Similarly, with the doctor set, she enjoys coming over and giving us an injection or checking our heartbeat.

3. Coloring and Water Paint Books

While she does love to paint, I can’t let her paint unsupervised for fear of messing up the pristine white walls in our new apartment.

What I can let her do though is color with washable crayons and do water painting. We get these water painting books at the Dollar Store and she loves dipping her brush in plain water to see colors appear magically on the sheet. Safe and fun!

4. DIY Craft

While most of our craft activities are joint ventures, there are a few things that a preschooler can do on their own with minimal supervision. Gluing cutouts or stickers to a card, tearing paper for future craft projects or putting together picture puzzles are all activities that a toddler can do with little or no supervision.

5. Picture Books

My toddler can’t read yet but luckily, she still loves books. So I have a set of picture books that she enjoys leafing through. The colorful pictures keep her engrossed and she has her own story to go along with the photos that I can often hear her tell her toys.

Plus, she also enjoys looking at the pictures and identifying colors or counting objects in them.

How do you keep an only child busy and entertained?

– Prerna Malik is a mom, a wife, a writer and woman who believes in parenting with love, being postively productive, and creating a home that invites you to put your feet up and relax. Find her sharing her simple tips and easy-to-do ideas at The Mom Writes or follow her on Twitter.

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Comments

  1. Oh, this brings back such memories. Pretend play! Yes, sometimes you have to do it. Yet, your little one still just loves being with you. Pretend play is A-OK!

  2. Susie's Homemade says:

    My 7-year-old writes…songs, stories, lists…she love writing:-)

    • That is lovely. I hope to pass on a love for writing to our toddler too. Right now, it is more of scribbling. But you just gave me another idea. Maybe I can give her some scribble pads and let her doodle on them as well. Thanks!

  3. Wonderful ideas!

    Like you, my husband and I both work from home, so we’re with our son 24/7. But I think a keeping a 22 month-old boy is worlds apart from entertaining a girl, haha! He never stops moving: One moment, he’s building towers with his Lego-Duplo blocks, then he’s poring over his board books. (His favorites are Eric Carle, because of the colorful pictures.) If he’s not with the Lego, he’s playing with his wood blocks or cars.

    Our son’s a little bundle of energy, so I make it a point to keep his snacks healthy and sugar-free so that he doesn’t get hyper. Between playing, he likes to snack, so I make sweet potato fries, apple wedges, or have a bowl of wheaties or dried fruit for him to graze on. I think, more than the play, it’s the snacking that keeps him busy for the long stretches! (Oh, and I’m also still breastfeeding him.)

  4. Thanks for this article. I have one child–a sweet boy who is 5 1/2 (the 1/2 is a big deal!). It is easier now to keep him occupied, but when he was young it was hard! I went to a friend’s house who had 2 daughters and we sat and talked for over an hour before I realized that we hadn’t been interrupted at all–she said that was normal for her since her daughters kept each other busy. I am homeschooling my son this year and there are challenges in keeping him occupied all day long and still being able to get what I need done. I am learning to bring him alongside to help with as much as I can–plus it makes him feel valuable.

  5. Oh this really brings back memories, I am an only child, and I did these same activities when I was little.

    I loved play food for my kitchen set, a chalkboard was fun with colored chalks too. I had an easel with a chalkboard on one side and a regular board on the other for painting, the chalkboard was so fun especially, most of my drawing was on the kitchen table, those dimestore water colors are tops and I still use them for our home painting pictures. Playdough is great and now we have the wonder of sculpey! Paper dolls were great, my mom would make them for me too. Also puzzles, and games are wonderful played with mommy. Blocks are a beautiful thing too. And when I was old enough my mommy showed me how to sew a very simple dolly dress for my baby, Angel, I would even make baby doll clothes out of paper towels coloring designs on them. Baby dolls were great, I would rock them and feed them and many times I ran an imaginary hospital too when I wasn’t busy being a broadway musical dancer and classical singer…Mommy always kept records of musicals, The Sound of Music etc. A homemade brides dress and veil was also available for those times when I needed to marry. ; )

    I lived in an old neighborhood in a home built in the 30s so there were no children to play with and that was probably a blessing. : )

    This post provoked quite a few memories indeed.

    Blessings!

    • Hi Amelia,

      Thank you SO much for sharing. What lovely memories and I am especially glad to hear from a grown-up only child:-)

      I think am gonna add some dress-up clothes too to my toddler’s playthings. She’s gonna love “getting married” and even, dressing up as a doctor or teacher.
      Thanks for these ideas.

  6. Our 10 y/o lives as an only child because her other siblings are older and out of the house now and it’s hard on her sometimes. For example, she was privately (and temporarily) devastated when her brother got married last year, even though she loves her new sis-in-law. It’s just very different being here “alone”. I’ve never really had to “entertain” her, but I do have to make sure I remember that she needs particular interaction.

  7. My son is 4.5 and has never been good at playing on his own. There’s only one TV show that really entertains him and he’d watch that 24/7 if I let him. But other than that, he always wants me to play with him. Even when he pretend plays, he expects me to be involved. I’ve tried setting him up with something and then making an exit, but I might get 5-10 minutes. If I sit and play with him, his attention span is endless. I’m starting to see things change as he gets older, but he is definitely slow to the independent play concept. (I’m sure some day I’ll miss it though!)

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