*I use the term "them" because I've not known what it's like to only have a single child for 3 years, 3 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days (oh wow, funny... all the threes).
- Send them on a mission you know they'll never accomplish. I'll have them look for a toy or some object that I know is hidden or doesn't exist. A determined child can be entertained for hours, or at the very least, several minutes. Once they give up, or if they start becoming too frustrated, I'll send them on a consolation mission that they'll easily accomplish and feel good about themselves for completing.
- Strap them into their car seats as if you are going somewhere, but remain in the driveway. I get into the driver's seat and nap, read, go over the mail, work on the laptop; whatever. I give the kids something to entertain themselves: a portable DVD player, a handheld game system, and some snacks, and most of the time, they don't even notice that we haven't actually gone anywhere. This is an excellent option if you need the kids to stay in one place. My favorite part of doing this is when the oldest starts asking questions, like, "Mom, why haven't we gone anywhere?" and I get to be like, "What are you talking about? We totally just drove halfway across the county! You were too busy playing your game to notice!" *An alternative to this is to not strap them in and just let them play in the car. My oldest has spent hours simply exploring the interiors of our cars, crawling over the seats, opening compartments, and pushing buttons while I spaced out in the driver's seat.
- Give them a very desirable packaged treat, but don't open it for them. Tell them if they can get it open themselves, it's all theirs. This obviously only works for the younger ones who are not yet proficient at opening packages. Just don't use this one on an easily frustrated child; no need for them to stroke out while trying to open a fun-sized Snickers bar. A couple of bonuses to this one: watching them can provide serious entertainment for the parents, and the kids learn creative ways to open packages! No scissors? No problem!
- Take the plug out of the bottom of their piggy banks, teach them how to shake the money out, and set the banks on the floor. Have them put the coins back in the slot, shake them back out, and repeat. This has entertained my boys for 30 minutes or more. I don't use it often, so it's a novelty for them, which is key. And the best part is that you get to psych them up about how much money they have at the end - it's like they forget or don't realize that it was the same coins they were putting in their banks over and over again. They don't know any better, and they're super happy! Just don't forget to wash their stinking, grimy hands afterwards! Not that the smell won't remind you... you'll see. Or should I say, you'll smell?
I hope you can use a couple of these and get some stuff done while doing so. And, I would love to read what unconventional methods you employ with your kid(s)!
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