Toddler tricks

homework in pajamas

Here’s a tip for making your fall and winter evening routine more sane:

Bathe the bigger kids before dinner.

Here’s why:

The after dinner hour is one of the craziest times of day — kids are tired, babies seem to nurse constantly, dad gets home and everyone wants to climb all over him, parents are hungry, and there’s tons of basic household stuff to get done in the evening. Getting baths done before dinner takes one big thing off your list.

Older kids don’t get very dirty during dinner (we have a 5 year old and almost 4 year old)

Our kindergartener prefers to do homework after dinner. Having him in his pj’s already means we can take more time with homework, look through his school papers from the day, and turn homework time into quality time together. (Like the photo above, which my husband took before coming into the house one night.)

Having kids in pj’s sends the signal that the day is winding down.

It’s cold and dark. PJ’s are warm and comfy.

Having your older kids in pj’s for dinner means they have more time for quiet play, books, or free time before bed. (While you make lunches, clean up from dinner, and take care of younger kids who need more hands on attention.)

It also means more quality time with working parent(s) who tend to come home right in the thick of nighttime to-do’s.

It results in a much calmer evening routine.

So that’s what’s working for us right now.

What’s your tip for making the evening madness more sane?

A perfect little project for a too-cold-to-play-outside day.

Our tissue paper window collages were inspired by this blog.

Let me tell you that five minutes before we started this project, the boys were falling apart. We were inches away from it being one of those days.

But then the magic took over.

A window with a not-so-great view became a burst of color. 

Using just liquid glue sticks and tissue paper sheets I cut into squares.


The concentration was unbreakable.



 And the result: a joyful reminder of how a little planning can transform a morning.

(All the more reason to spend time on Pinterest!)



Even if you’re not doing “preschool at home,” these are great inside activities for winter days.

Here are a few ways I kept my 2- and 3-year-olds busy this week.

Bead scooping (toddlers) and sorting (preschoolers)

When we brought these B. Pop-Arty beads to Cape Cod last summer, all of the grown ups were so all over them them that I don’t think the kids even noticed them.

My sons aren’t making necklaces out of them yet (despite my prodding), but the gorgeous colors and shapes still make them fun to play with.

Judah had lots of fun scooping them from one bowl to another…

…while Isaiah broke in his new kid chopsticks and sorted them by color.

Ahh, order.


Tongs and Pom Poms

I recycled this activity later in the week with our new gigantic bag of pom poms.

Glue galaxies

Continuing our space theme from last week, we made giant glue galaxies with black construction paper and foam “planets.”

Judah, like most toddlers, got great satisfaction out of squeezing glue.

As part of my attempts to foster independence, I didn’t once say “not too much glue!” even though it seemed to be hard-wired for me to channel kindergarten teachers around the world. (How much does glue actually cost? And if he makes a mess, so what?)

It’s also a great exercise for his little hand muscles to squeeze away like there’s no tomorrow.

And who am I to limit the size of his galaxy?




If you haven’t set your toddler up with one of these $2 hardware store gems yet, you will soon be sending me cupcakes and flowers. Especially with all the new time you’ll have on your hands. Seriously, the hours and hours (okay, minutes and minutes) you can buy yourself with this simple device is spellbinding.

Only some of the ways I’ve used this baby:

  • “See all those brown spots in the lawn? That means the grass is THIRSTY. Can you go give it water?”
  • “Can you squirt those ants over there?”
  • “Look! You can paint pictures on the cement!”
  • “Go squirt some water off the front porch.”
  • “You don’t want to go out in your stroller? How about if you bring your squirt bottle?”

My only caution is that if you have more than one child, be sure everyone has their very own spray bottle. You’ve never seen a meltdown like the one where only one kid has a “squirt squirt.”


Image: AlishaV