Ladybug What to Do When Your Toddlers are Driving You Nuts!

As your babies become toddlers, they become more active. They also need more stimulation or they become restless and bored. While sitting them down in front of the television to watch a Baby Einstein video or Sesame Street works in the short term (and is a life-saver when you really can't take it anymore), what you really need is a roster of activities to keep them interested. Just keep in mind that the attention span for toddlers is pretty short, lasting all of 10 minutes-if you're lucky.

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1.Go Outside

An hour or two of outdoor play will do wonders for crabby toddlers. You don't have to take them to a park or playground, let them roam around the yard. Play kickball, let them draw on the sidewalk with chalk, blow some bubbles and let them chase the bubbles around the yard. Fill up the kiddie pool and let them splash around while you sit in a chair and soak your feet.

If it's autumn shake a few tree branches and let them watch the leaves or pine needles fall. Or gather a pile of leaves and let them shuffle around crunching leaves. Pick flowers or berries or tomatoes. Show them your herb garden and let them smell the leaves.

Take a walk (with you walking and them in the stroller-just don't forget the snacks, drinks, blanket, or pacifier if anyone needs it). Getting outside often means a little down time later for you. They'll be content to watch a video and of course, to eat more snacks!

2. Nurture Budding Artists

Can't afford easels for your budding artists? No problem. Buy washable crayons, chalk, finger paints, artist smocks, and a 30 or 36-inch roll of sketch paper (heavy enough to finger paint on) at the art store and tack or tape it to the wall. There will be plenty of room for everyone to create their own masterpieces. They can also sit at a worktable and draw or paint. Just cut a sheet of paper long enough to cover the table and fold it under the edge, then tape it securely.

3. Help with Chores

If you need to organize you pots and pans, empty the dishwasher, fold and put the clothes away, or clean the refrigerator, you already have two or more pint-sized assistants. It may be slow going at first, but they really want to help, so let them.

4. Dancing

Turn on the radio and dance to your favorite music. Move your feet and arms. If you prefer classical music, sway from side to side. Teach them to dance cha cha-if you don't know how, buy an instructional video and learn a few steps yourself. Your children will love anything with a good beat-even if it's Chicken Dance Elmo or the polka. You'll be amazed at how fast your little ones will pick up the steps and how much their eyes will light up the next time they hear any music.

5. Music

You can buy musical sets or individual pieces such as tambourines, mariachis, congas, or a xylophone. Or, you can use objects around the house to make your own musical instruments. A Quaker Oats container for a drum, small plastic containers filled with rice (make sure the lids are securely fastened), or pots and pans and wooden spoons. They can pretend they are in a marching band and parade around the house.

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