Now that you’ve got a toddler, your pre-baby standard vacation schedule of relaxing poolside, sipping margaritas, and eating lazy (and extremely late) dinners is waving buh-bye. But that’s okay: You wouldn’t trade fun with your kiddo for all the frothy, frosty, fruity cocktails on the beach. As you plan for your trip, you’ll want to start a list of mom-tot activities to keep your kiddo (and yourself) busy in those intimidating gaps between bigger scheduled outings, like after you’ve hit the beach but before your children’s museum visit. Check out these easy ideas to get you started.
1. I Spy: You’re in a magical place (or, at the very least, you’re somewhere new). And that means your curious kiddo wants to explore. Take a walk around the block and play a game of “I spy.” You can spy plenty of new things that your child wouldn’t see at home for them to guess, and maybe learn some new words.
2. Sensory Bottle: Chances are you’ll end up with an empty water bottle or two. Collect a few objects from around the area, such as sand, shells, or flower petals. Add water, toss in a pinch of glitter, tape the top, and let your little one shake away. The two of you can take turns making the water (and everything else in the bottle) swirl!
3. Photo Safari: Forget about those posed, perfect posts for IG. Instead, for your photographic safari, walk around the area and snap photos of unexpected objects that your child spots. This might mean you’ll have a phone filled with pictures of park benches, stop signs, and people’s sandals — that’s okay! The goal here is to have fun, not curate the perfect aesthetic for a social media feed.
4. Vacation Collage: Snag brochures, paper menus, and anything else with print on it as you travel from place to place. When you get back to your hotel, cut the items apart and use a glue stick to attach them to a piece of cardstock paper or poster board. Now you have an instant memento!
5. Dance Party: Download a kid-friendly playlist before leaving for your vacation. When you have downtime, turn up the tunes and dance, dance, dance.
6. Book Nook: There’s no reason to stop your regular parent-child reading time just because you’re on vacation. Bring along a few of your tot’s favorites and carve out time to read together. Pick a special spot in the hotel room and turn it into your family book nook.
7. Follow the Leader: Don’t worry about bringing every single toy in the house when you head out on your trip. A good old-fashioned game of follow the leader will keep your tot busy, get them active, and provide you with a toy-free (and screen-free) way to spend some of your day. Take the game up a notch by adding in silly walks or funny movements for your kiddo to follow.
8. Taste Test: It’s summer, and it’s hot. (We’re guessing you’ve picked a beach or poolside vacation spot.) Find a local ice cream shop, and choose at least two different flavors. Ask for your picks in cups — but don’t tell you tot what the chilly choices are. Your child can taste test the ice creams, guessing what the mystery flavors are. Offer a few hints to keep the game going.
9. Fashion Show: Shopping is one of your absolute favorite vacation pastimes, and the same goes for your mini-me. At least, they certainly enjoy trying on new clothes. After you’ve shopped the local mall silly or stopped at every single gift shop in a 30-mile radius, take the goodies and gear and put on a family fashion show in your hotel room.
10. Comforting Crayons: At some point on the trip, your tot will go from smiley and giggling to major meltdown mode. Help your child chill with the comfort of a few crayons in their favorite colors. Work together to draw zig-zags, wiggles, and other lines on blank paper. Don’t worry about “creating something” — there’s no end product here. Instead, simply use this activity as way to de-stress.
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(Photos via Getty)