For the moment, it looks like the quarantine is here to stay. With a 4 and 2 year old to entertain and an infant to tend to, we’ve been blowing through activities at lightning speed-does this sound like you? However, after a little bit of trial and error, I’ve compiled a list of our favorite things (and activities) that we have been able to ‘recycle’ and use day after day in several different ways and I’m sharing them with y’all in case you’re in the same boat! I’m also sharing our favorite books and a few things for you, mama, because I know you’re wearing TONS of different hats right now! No worries, I’m here for ya.
My 4 Year Old’s Favorites:
- Write and Wipe Books: Harper LOVES these. We have the alphabet and activity book and she reaches for them everyday.
- Magnetic Letter + Number Table Easel: Both of our girls actually love this easel and I love that they can both use it at the same time 🙂 One side is a chalk board, the other a white board and the chalkboard side is magnetic and the letters are beneficial for both girls!
- Sensory Bins: Honestly, we make our sensory bins with things we have around the house-the last thing I want is ANOTHER pile of containers sitting around the house so we use pie tins, cake pans, measuring cups, spoons, etc and fill them with rice, sugar, dry beans, shaving cream, aloe vera gel, ANYTHING we can find around the house.
- Little Red Riding Hood Puzzle Board Game: This has been a favorite of hers for over a year. It comes with an instruction book, puzzle board, little red riding hood, trees, the big bad wolf, grandmother’s house and path pieces. The instruction book shows her visually how to set up the board with grandmother’s house and the trees and the objective is to create a path that gets little red riding hood to grandmother’s house. There are three different levels of difficulty and she spends HOURS flipping through the book and problem solving her way to grandmother’s house.
- Books: We devour books by the hour around here. Some of her current favorites include A Giraffe and a Half and The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, A Sister More Like Me, Dear Girl, Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons, and You’re Here For a Reason. We’ve also been reading a ton of Junie B Jones given all of our extra time :D. Our latest one was Junie B Jones Toothless Wonder. Speaking of Pete the Cat-the author, James Dean, has been going live on Instagram every weekday at noon CST. He shares some of the letters he receives in the mail and shows the kids where on the map the letters came from, he reads a Pete the Cat story and he walks them through a drawing. My girls look forward to it every day and we’ve made it special by making it into a little ‘story and snack time.’ It breaks up the day and gives us a reason to look at the clock!
My 2 Year Old’s Favorites:
- Blocks: She is learning to sort by color and shape and she loves creating new ‘princess towers’ so all 100 of these get put to use! We also encourage color sorting by using a muffin tin and colored things that she finds around the house. If she can sort it, we will use it!
- Princess Cupcake Party Game: This was a Christmas gift a year ago and is STILL a huge hit around here. Appropriate (and fun) for both ages, they build the cupcakes per the recipe cards over + over again and we play the game together as a family. This is one of our very favorite and most loved activities so if you’ve got girls who love princesses, this is a must have!
- Counting Owls: This is a fun activity that helps her learn to count, sort by color, and recognize her numbers when she spins them on the spinner. We also use the owls to make patterns and of course she loves to sit and see how many she can stack on top of each other until they fall over 😀 As I mentioned above, though, we also get creative and find different colored objects around the house (pens, books, socks, crayons) to sort and make into patterns.
- Books: She isn’t interested in chapter books yet like her big sister, understandably, but she does have several favorites that she’s reaching for over + over again right now. They include Pout Pout Fish, all of the short stories and nursery rhymes in her ‘A Collection of Stories for 2 Year Olds‘ book, Guess How Much I Love You, and Please Mr Panda.
- Highlights Sticker Hidden Pictures: These are a great time sucker! The stickers add some inspiration for her, although it is a bummer that once the stickers are in, they aren’t as recyclable as ones WITHOUT stickers, but she likes the stickers and for now, that’s plenty fine by me.
My Mama Favorites:
- The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse: This is 100% a must read for every family. It’s short enough for me to sit and read it cover to cover with my 4 year old but the individual pages are plenty powerful enough on their own that I can read it with my 2 year old as well. I also find myself thumbing through it frequently right now for little glimpses of inspiration. The illustrations are gorgeous and the beautiful message applies to all ages.
- Essie Gel Setter Top Coat: Listen, none of us are getting manicures right now and a manicure is far from essential, BUT who doesn’t feel a little prettier when their nails are done? A few years ago I discovered this gel top coat and it’s perfect for busy gals like yourself. In our days full of diaper changing, hand washing, dish washing and bath giving, we don’t have time for chips and even in the pre-pandemic good ol’ days, I didn’t always have time to keep up on my gel manis, so this top coat is the best of both worlds. It lasts me between 10 and 12 days chip free and I always pair it with my favorite Essie colors like licorice, ballet slippers and chinchilly.
- Personalized Coffee Mug: There’s nothing like that first sip of coffee in the morning and the cherry on top is sipping it from a cute mug that supports a fellow mama. I’ve used and loved her mugs for years and yes, they do make my mornings a little brighter and who am i kidding…my afternoons too!
- Boba Baby Wrap: Remember the infant I mentioned? In the midst of the home schooling and hands on parenting that seems to be 24/7, this wrap has been a saving grace. I have used it for all three of our kids but it is super duper handy right now. I wear him around the house and it eliminates a lot of stress when he begins to fuss because I am able to soothe him and tend to the girls at the same time. Or fold laundry. Or make dinner. Win. Win. Win.
- Face Mask: I am all about self care right now. By the end of the day, my first instinct is to fall in a heap and some nights I do. Other nights I opt for some quiet time to myself and my favorite thing to do to unwind outside of my usual evening routine (which you can read all about right here) is to apply a face mask and just sit. Depending on my mood, I’ll either apply this clarifying mask or if I’m in the mood for a peel off mask, I turn to this one. I personally think the 20 minutes that I spend sitting quietly in a mask beats 20 minutes of extra sleep. I encourage you to try it and see what you think.
Hang in there, mama. The days are long but the years are short and that couldn’t be any truer than it is right now. We’re all in this together so let’s keep sharing resources, ideas, and inspiration! I’ll keep showing up here to support and share as much as I can!
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