Top Mommy Tricks to Engage Your kids

We all have our favorite Mommy Tricks… things we keep up our sleeve for this job of motherhood.

Mommy Tricks that can completely change the tone of a challenging day with our kids.

Things that don’t cost a lot of money or take alot of time or require too much energy.

Moments when our kids need a distraction.

And, Mommy needs a break. Maybe for coffee or that ten minutes to fold laundry.

Top Mommy Tricks for when you and the kids need a change from the normal day to day play.

The moments when whining has taken over or when tired kids are slightly bored.

Rainy days, blustery afternoons, long evenings…

I’ve learned over the years that a change of atmosphere, activity or plan can miraculously turn a difficult day into peaceful, uhm… peace.

So, what tricks to I keep for those kinds of moments?

1} Gum. enough said.

2} Play Dough – We don’t get PlayDoh out very often. I know that when I do, the clean up will be killer but the hour of happy play is well worth it. Having a bunch of special playdoh tools that ONLY come out in these moments is pretty helpful too. My girls love it!

3} $1 at the Dollar Store – 20 minutes of blissful shopping, $3 dollars spent and at least an hour of fresh imagination play with a new toy or coloring book or sticker sheet.

4} The park or the backyard – Put on the coats, boots and hats and gloves OR throw on a swimsuit and turn on the hose… even just 15 minutes of running around outside will refresh the kids and the Mommy.

5} Books – We have a cabinet. This cabinet is full of books. Books that are saved for special “reading” times. These books seem new because they only appear once and awhile. I usually let them get their pillows and blankets, grab a stack of books and let them read on their blankets in the schoolroom. They love it.

6} Weird craft items – Coffee filters, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, tin foil, magazines… throw in some scissors and glue… you’ll have a mess but it will provide for lots of creative thinking! Order some fun, random craft supplies to keep on hand. A few craft kits work really well for this too!

7} The Bath Tub – even though my girls are getting bigger, this trick still works! They normally take showers so a bath is really special. If I’m needing some quiet time to fold laundry or clean upstairs, I fill the tub with water, give the girls some shaving cream, close the shower curtain and they are quite happy. I stay close to the bathroom working and listening and they think they are having the best day ever. And don’t forget a few toys to make this even more fun.

8} The Library – An hour at the library is fun in itself. Pack the kids up and just go. A few books, new movies, new CDs… you can’t get better than that. Get a library bag. I use something like this and keep it full of new library books for just these moments.

9} An Indoor Playland – I get coffee, the girls get fries, I bring a book and they play. Perfect and inexpensive morning at Chick fil A… a major benefit of homeschooling is that we can go in the morning when no one is there or in the afternoon at nap time when the play place is empty except for us.

10} Finger Foods – Whether it is marshmallows and pretzel sticks or fruit snacks and grapes, giving them something they can play with AND eat makes snack time longer and more enjoyable for all.

11} Paint Fun – For inside fun, this is amazing. If the weather is nice, I give my girls something to paint on outside and they are happy! For little ones, a piece of paper or rocks and some washable finger paints. For hot days, you can use some sidewalk chalk soaked in water and let the kids paint your big plastic yard toys {it washes right off!} Or you can get creative and think outside the box! We have painted on boiled eggs, marshmallows on kabob skewers, newspapers and anything else fun the girls can find! Have supplies on hand and you are good to go!

12} Music – let the kids get dressed up in play clothes or Sunday clothes and play music! Some spinning, twirling, and jumping will burn some energy and lighten everyone’s mood.

13} A Drive in the Car – I have been known to get the girls in the van, especially when they were small, and run through Sonic or drive through a nice neighborhood with Christmas lights or find my way out into the country just to have 20 minutes where the girls were strapped in and I could think! And, the girls loved the little outing and we all came home refreshed. The bonus was when I would bring a book, knowing the girls would sleep, and I would read in the car while they napped. Soooo nice.

14} Clean Up time – “What?” you are thinking? Yes, clean up time! In those moments when the girls might be tired or frustrated with each other or saying “I can’t find anything to play with!” Well, maybe they really CAN’T find anything to play with because their toys are a mess. Sometimes, if I get in and clean with them… Well, they love that because I’m on the floor with them but they also love it because they “find” toys they didn’t know they had. And, we are re-organizing toys so they find all the pieces to this or that set and then they can’t wait to play with it. I’ve had a clean play room become the very best toy of all and keep the girls busy for the rest of the afternoon.

15} Have a spontaneous play date – call a friend and see if maybe she is having the same kind of day you are and ask her to come over with her kids. Fresh faces will totally change the course of the day.

I’m sure we all have some great Mommy Tricks for those days when we need to engage our kids in something or we will go crazy!

What kinds of things do you keep up your sleeve to buy yourself some happy kid time and mommy peace time?





  1. I love this list. I have to say…what on earth is the big deal with gum? 🙂 Oh and did you know that you can buy edible paint for marshmallows and other such foods? We love doing that!

  2. What a great list! I have learned just with keeping Ellie that a quick little trip outdoors does wonders for everyone! 🙂 We picked “pretty flowers” yesterday for her mommy . . . they were weeds but she was convinced they were beautiful!

  3. Hi I’m stopping by from HHH. Great list. I am so with you on play dough. Not a favorite of mine, but it is a fun treat for my little ones to play with! We rotate toys too & bath play is always a hit! Hope you have a great day!

  4. What a great list!! We have done the bathtub play and the empty play place – so nice when there aren’t kids all over the place!!

    My girls love it when I bring out the bubbles for a bubble party indoors. It has saved my sanity a few times this winter!

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