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 Things to do

  • A penny treasure-hunt is a great way of entertaining any child from about 2.5 until at least 5. An outlay of 10p per child will produce fun scramble and they enjoy the build-up as you 'hide' pennies (mostly in full view, at this age). (choosyfloosy)
  • Trying to do something in the kitchen, but your older baby / toddler wont leave you alone? Give them a saucepan and wooden / metal spoon - they will be instantly entertained by making 'music' and although you will have a headache..at least you can get on! (jomorgan)
  • If your children love painting, why not buy a roll of wallpaper and just cut lengths off as needed. It lasts for ages and works out much cheaper! (Winjackie)
  • Life's too short to iron muslin squares. (Twiga)
  • If you are stuck for something to keep your toddler entertained on a rainy day, scatter some small toys under furniture (the type with legs and a space under) and give them a torch. They will spend hours playing hunt the toys! (IlanaK)
  • Tie up a cupful of oats in one of your baby's old muslins and drop it in a hot bath. Bathe in the milky water and use the oaty 'ball' to gently exfoiliate - makes your skin lovely and soft. (HughRinal)
  • Get a water pistol and accept you're going to get wet. (bakingcakes)
  • Remember, when you're ill, one day of Cbeebies isn't going to do any lasting damage to the DCs and a rested Mummy will get better - and be more fun again - sooner. (Blatherskite)
  • Keep a Mummy goody bag stashed away for really bad days. Fill with your favourite chocolate, magazine, bath oil, wine, CD, feel good movie or anything else that helps you relax. (sunflowervalley)
  • Start a summer scrapbook with your kids for the long holidays. Put things like ticket stubs, leaves from wood trails, photos in action, leaflets from new places visited, tiny sample of sand from the beach. It can be as much or as little with annotations to go with each item. My 5 year old starts it this summer after seeing my own travel journals and she is having so much fun with it. (cartist)
  • To keep a toddler occupied outside, give then a washing up bowl, cloth, sponge and some toys. My 2 year old will wash his toys for ages - saves me a job too! (MrClaypole)
  • Buy packets of small easter-eggs and give your kids an easter egg hunt. It doesn't matter if it's raining, just hide the eggs around the house. (Ra)
  • Buy a roll of lining paper for under a fiver from a DIY store, roll it out on the floor/garden and chuck some crayons on top. Keeps kids and friends amused for hours. Draw round older children and have them dress their shapes with crayons or paint. (Ilythia)
  • Use brown tape make hop scotch on your floor for fun indoor play. (misssaj)
  • Give your toddler a metal baking sheet loaded up with magnetic letters/numbers/pictures. Guaranteed to keep them entertained for ages! (shineoncrazydiamond)
  • if you do biscuit decorating with your children, try filling a sandwich bag with a teaspoon of icing and snipping off a corner (only a tiny tiny bit). This is cheaper than buying special icing pens and my two year old is able to control the flow of icing. (sleepingbunny)
  • To extend your time on Mumsnet, give your toddler a disconnected old keyboard and mouse then they can be just like mummy typing and clicking away! (Katzg)
  • I always keep a balloon (un-inflated!) in my handbag. its easy to blow up really quickly to keep my toddler amused when I don't have any regular toys with me. (Lawm01)
  • Make a fantastic huge bubble maker by twisting a metal coat hanger. Bubble solution: use 1 part washing up liquid to 8-10 water, depending on liquid strength. (WowOoo)
  • The cheapest and most entertaining toy for my three and one year old? The peg bag. Hours of fun. You'll be amazed... (babybessa)
  • Buy your kids the same colour/pattern socks - as boring as it may seem, it makes it far easier to match up when the sock monster has visited. (monty)
  • When the weather is rotten, have a picnic inside. Put a blanket on your floor and put out lots of little plates with things like grated cheese, boiled eggs, cold meat, chopped fruits and tomatoes. Let the kids sit on cushions around the blanket and tuck in. It's a great way to use up leftovers and make a rotten day into an adventure! (keriku)
  • When you replace your mobile phone, keep the old one, remove the battery to make it lighter, and give it to your toddler. My daughter regularly carries one around in one of her many bags. (bozza)
  • Have a box of special toys that your child can only play with while you are cooking/cleaning etc. It keeps them happy and and gives you time to get essentials done. (Ixel)
  • Keep bubble wrap in a drawer and get it out during an overexcited afternoon. No child can resist popping the bubbles and it has an instant calming effect. (singalongamumum)
  • Bonfire Night special: Give children wind-up torches or glow-sticks, so they don't get scared in the dark and can find their way to the loo etc. Batteries are so last century. (TheDuchessOfCorpseBride)
  • Bonfire Night special: Timing. Has no one mentioned timing? It gets dark by 4pm but people start parties at 8pm, which means that small children are crabby and knackered. Start family firework parties early, then you get more time for drinking mulled wine. (morningpaper)
  • Don't buy glitter. Ever. (littleducks)
  • Don't encourage your child to take up the trumpet unless you have a very large house with many rooms. (EccentricaGallumbits)
  • Close the curtains, find a torch and play caves under a duvet or some cushions - great fun for toddlers. Especially good if you hide strange objects under there too. (mathshoneybunny27)
  • Always answer the door wearing your coat: if it's someone you want to see, you can say you've just got in; if it's someone you just don't have time to deal with, you can say you're on your way out! (Cremolafoam)
  • Get a can of shaving foam, spray on a table and get busy drawing numbers, letters, animals, anything in it. Will keep DC busy for ages. (QuestionableAntics)
  • If your child is a reluctant writer, help them create their own blog. DS does this with his friend and they write about anything and everything. It ticks reading, spelling, writing and learning boxes, plus it's fun! (FizzyisFab)
  • Let your child take a photo of the toys in each box and stick it onto the outside; it helps at tidy up time! (Almacks)
  • cheaper than colouring books, buy tracing paper and trace pages with the kids from their favourite story books, then they can colour them in! (mummybrained)
  • Pick up a book about birds and wildlife from a charity shop and get out in the country! See if the kids can identify certain birds or animals. It's great educational fun and lots of exercise for everyone. (kissyfurr)
  • Laminate white card to make mini whiteboards for children to practise their spellings. Much easier to wipe clean if you make a mistake and less disheartening than crossing out! (bobbinogs)
  • Let your children decorate a plain biscuit with some icing pens. This will entertain as well as provide a well deserved snack at the end. (Sizzlin)
  • Make a post box out of a cereal box and some some pretend letters. Hide the letters all over the house and also hide the post box somewhere. Bored toddlers will enjoy looking for each letter and when they find it looking for the post box in which to post them. Keeps 'em busy for a while. (JimmyTarbuck)
  • For entertaining kids on a hot day in the garden, set up a low level washing line and let them hand wash dolls clothes or small items of clothing/hankies and peg them onto the line. It kept our girls busy for hours - we even used the idea on a camping holiday! (DazR)
  • Rainy day? Buy a load of batteries and go around the house replacing batteries in all those annoying toys that need them. Bulbs, too. Kids carry tools and help out. What could go wrong...? (melondrama)
  • Number jigsaws. Put the number on the box and lid, and then on the back of each piece. When you find a stray piece you will know quickly which one it belongs to. (Mummysurfer)
  • Mixing cornflour and water together and sit back watching the children explore the texture and make a mess - only downside is the parents have to clean up haha. (Jlnorris2010)
  • Use your local toy library. They are a fabulous resource and allow your child to try toys that you would not be able to buy. New toys every week, brilliant. (trice)
  • To encourage young children to enjoy family walks, set them a challenge of finding objects whilst they are out (ie pine cone, yellow flower, stone with a pattern on it etc) they enjoy ticking them off a list and you can offer a small prize for a completed list. No moaning or dragging of heels! (honeybunmum)
  • Keep a 'beach bag' with everything your child needs for a day on the beach - towel, bucket and spade, sun cream, ball, drink bottle. We always used to forget something important (usually a bucket) but now everything we need is kept in one place and ready to go. (dweezle)
  • One for the summer months. Keep all hats, gloves, coats, jackets and suncream and wellies in the hall by the door so when the weather changes unexpectingly at least you will have all items to hand. Keeping our kids cool: Save money on ice creams buy your own cones and a big tub, this way you can always give them a smaller scoop if its close to meal times. Wet Weather: Invest in a waterproof coat and some wellies. Don't get stuk indoors. Take your toddlers out for a splash! Messy but free fun. (widedreamer)
  • Get yourself a scooter and scoot along with your child - great fun and really quick way of getting to nursery/school etc. (ctoyno)
  • if you're looking for cheap entertainment, buy the kids a set of juggling balls - easy to get hold of and with lots of free instruction videos online, they are also healthy and get children in the fresh air (juggler1000)
  • Hang onto empty cardboard kids lunchboxes provided in supermarket cafes and restaurants. Fill them up with sandwiches/fruit/treats and re-use them for picnics in the garden/park etc. The small packets of crayons/colouring books often found in these boxes are also great for travel. (MintChocAddict)
  • Save empty Bubbles Bottles and you can make your own with washing up liquid and water. Children love them and it's good clean credit-crunch Friendly fun! :O) (VerdeButterfly)
  • We've put peel and stick blackboard squares on the inside of the back door so the kids can chalk on them outside when the door's open or when it's raining we can just sweep the chalk dust out the door after! (JustinCaseyHowles)
  • Test spelling,tables or other lists that have to be learned by getting them to write on a white board with a dry-wipe marker. It's more fun. They can be found on an old calendar or even write on a laminated white sheet of paper. (amadan10)
  • Pennies are a great toy for keeping the kids amused. We stack them and count them, put them in money bags from the bank, post them in all our piggy banks and best of all, we soak them in vinegar and watch them go all shiny. (BurnstonesBabies)
  • for a cheap, cheerful and non-messy summer activity supply jugs of water and old paintbrushes of differnt thicknesses. Children really enjoy 'painting' the fence or the path and watching it dry. (broughton100)
  • Have your own FESTIVAL! With your whole family or with friends too, in your own garden! Put out lots of picnic blankets, bean bags, cushions & chairs. Set up Tents & Stages. Have a face painting stall, Crafty stalls making tiaras/crowns/hats/masks- just need cardboard, paint, scissors, sticky tape & GLITTER! Food & Drink stall with non-alcoholic colourful cocktails! Bags of popcorn, fruit baskets. B-B-Q. Maybe a Karaoke or CD Player? And/or get lots of your kids' toy instruments,or make shakers & drums & microphones- the kids can make a pop group/band to entertain the adults & vice versa! x (Gaston)
  • use the inside of a toilet roll to plant sunflower seeds in until they get bigger, then transfer to a bigger tub, The children can paint them to make them more personal or put there names on them so they know which ones are theirs x (gaynor19)
  • Entertain a bored child this summer. Give them a pail or basin of water and a paintbrush and ask them to paint the fence (or outside wall if you have no fence!. It will keep them occupied for hours. As the first part painted will be dry by the time they have finished and they will need to start all over again! (nusooze)
  • Mums tween kit. It is not only babies and Toddlers that get bored when your away from home when your meeting up with friends or waiting for an appointment. I have a pencilcase contains. Some new packets of Lego men, Pkt of cards, dice, small note pad small pens. Small digital Camera.(Camera is good for setting animation tasks) (Monkay)
  • To keep kids busy play the Looking for Gold game. You need a sandpit and little gold coins. Tip the gold coins into the sand and get them to try and find them - put a few booby prizes in, too. The winner is the one with the most gold at the end. (kathcake)
  • Fill empty roll-on deodorant bottles with paints for an easy and clean way to amuse the kids. (bc1616)
  • Playdough: 2 cups of flour, 2 cups of warm water, 1 cup of salt, 2 tbsp of veg oil, 1 tbsp of cream of tarter (this is optional) and food colouring. Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix until it is a dough, then put in a saucepan and heat until it binds together. This will only take a few moments. Essential oil can be added to give it a scent. Keep it in an airtight container and if it dries out just add some water. (GILLANMC)
  • To fill a whole sunny afternoon for a four year old, give them a washing up bowl of water on the lawn and a really, really small water squirter. Then mention that the peas and strawberries need water to help them to grow. Watch the procedure from your hammock - enjoy. (BuntyPenfold)
  • Cook up a triple batch of cupcakes and freeze them. Then you can take out six at a time for decorating when your children's friends come round. An instant activity without the mess and fuss of baking every time. (PollyTechnique)
  • Playing treasure hunt with a GPS - known as geocaching - is a great way of getting reluctant children out for a walk. (littlelibrarylass)
  • To make an Easter hunt more 'egg-citing', buy a cheap flower arranging basket, decorate with a ribbon and add little decorations, eg tiny fluffy chicks. (jibbsy)
  • Get your child to give up a dummy by telling her to leave it in the garden for the Easter Bunny who will swap it for an Easter egg (tarotmum)
  • Give children a seed tray with soil in and get them to create a miniature garden eg use tiny stones to make a path, an upturned bottle top for a pond, twigs with leaves on for trees, picked flowers for the flower beds etc. (Just make sure that they are clear beforehand what they can and cannot pick!) (NorbertDentressangle)
  • If you have space, using chunky chalks, map out roads, roundabouts, shops and parks on your drive. My children have hours of fun riding their bikes and scooters round the giant map visiting the shops (and even going to prison!). Then the rain washes it away and you create a new one another day. (honeybunmum)
  • Hang up a string close to the ceiling in your kitchen or utility and stick some clothes pegs on it. Then next time you do arty stuff at home, it can dry without taking up workspace or being in reach of toddlers... (LaWeasel)
  • Having a bad day? Peruse Mumsnet Classics... you're sure to find something in there to brighten your day. (YouMightKnowMe)
  • Make a postbox out of a cereal carton and then get your toddler to make postcards to their fave characters. Then they can have fun posting their cards. You can put the postbox in a secret location so they have to find it first. (JimmyTarbuck)
  • Never underestimate how much fun a basin of water and a few cups are. Just be prepared with a mop! (suzi2)
  • Cut the front off an old cereal box and use it to make a room, sticking in pictures from catalogues. A great rainy day toddler activity. (deweydell)
  • Keep a small bottle of bubble mixture in your hand bag - whip it out at a stressful moment and keep your children quiet for at least 5 mins. (stillcrying)
  • For a free day out when its rainy visit your local library. Kids books don't normally get charged if overdue and they are normally reading sessions and activities going on throughout the school holidays for kids .. also many libraries don't fine if books aren't returned in the same condition thank god!! (jeanetteb672)
  • If your child refuses to eat his fruit and veg take him/her to a pick your own farm. Its a great, cheap day out and we found our son couldn't wait to try the fruit he had picked. Perhaps we could have a place we could post our best local pick your own farms. (elinus)
  • word association games are always good,each person has to say a word that is something to do with the last one. (zhead)
  • Tired old vests or babygrows covered in stains? Tie-dye them in nice strong colours (purple is a favourite) for a beautiful, quirky look. Great for older brothers or sisters to get involved in too! (mathshoneybunny27)
  • A game for a rainy day for pre-schoolers! With a few items in common (e.g. skittles, soft toys), hide them around the house while your child reads a book in their room. They can then have fun seeking them! I do this with my daughter's Numberjack skittles and she loves it! (Luciox)
  • day at the seaside??? Get your kids to collect shells, stones, seaweed or anything else and get them to write their names in the sand - its a great way to keep them enterained for free - and if you add the date afterwards its a perfect keepsake for your photos too!!! (mummylynz)
  • don't recycle all your strong plastic containers. Young children love to play with them in the bath, the sand and when outside. (stcuthbert)
  • to keep the kids amused on the wet days of the holidays, why not have an indoor treasure hunt? Make up a few clues (there are some on the internet you can use as well) for younger kids draw pictures for clues. The prize at the end doesn't have to be big- a little pack of crayons will do. it can keep them amused for ages! (naomicm)
  • For a inexpensive fun day out take your kids to a small shallow stream and let them have fun wading through the water. (johnscomp)
  • Save fizzy drinks bottle tops, formula measuring spoons and jar caps (well washed and with the inner seals removed.) Put them in a shoe box with a lid and give to an older toddler for hours of cheap entertainment - my daughter loves playing with them and can sit for ages taking them in and out of the box, building towers etc. Could also be used for making jewellery, printing and collage! (BunchesBunny)
  • Go on a seasonal walk and collect autumn leaves etc. When you get home get your little ones to make a collage of their findings. (suezie)
  • A way to tire the kids out but entertain yourself (and keep fit). Pick a regular time to put on a NON KIDS CD (eg. Kylie, Madonna, Nina Simone) and have a 'boogie' half an hour where you and the kids dance like you just don't care! (cubed)
  • Open out some empty cereal boxes and then roll into wide tubes, as 'stands' for puppets when not in use; kids find it much more attractive when choosing what to play with than just seeing puppets all in a box! (mustrun)
  • When flying off on holiday here's how you can easily get through a five hour flight with little ones. Wrap up little surprises like pass the parcel gifts which contain puzzle, treats or what ever you like. Give them out every half hour or so. Leave them to open each one on their own. My kids are 3 & 5 years old and love this! (Maweebell)
  • Make every situation an adventure. We got caught in a rainstorm last week and i could have cried but me and my 6 year old pretended we were fishes and 'swam' home. (zoet78)
  • Under appreciated, lonely or feeling low? Volunteering can really help with all of those. Whether it's the NCT, pre-school committee, Brownies/Cubs or something you're more interested in, just take a deep breath and go have a chat. (GladioliBuckets)
  • When doing messy play with children buy a cheap waterproof tablecloth which you can wipe clean and use again rather than using masses of newspaper each time (grumpalumpa)
  • Laminate some of your children's artwork to make attractive yet cheap place mats. (grumpalumpa)
  • If you're at a friend's/family member's house having a coffee or glass of wine and your little boy is becoming a pest ask them to dig out their pegs. Yes, PEGS!! Boys love em. My son clips them to everything and has even made transformer like models with just pegs. Amazing! Keeps them entertained for ages and costs not a bean! (Mandelle)
  • Keep a box of loo roll tubes, empty tissue boxes & shoe boxes, milk carton lids, matchboxes etc. in the garage or shed. On boring afternoons, provide with masking tape, scissors and sellotape, and relax whilst the kids 'do making'. (lagrandissima)
  • Keep old magazines and Sunday supplements to use for making collages. Cut out faces,eyes, mouths etc and re-construct to make some crazy looking people. (WowOoo)
  • When shopping with a preschooler make a visual shopping list using pictures of key items. They can join in the shopping by telling you what is next, helping you find it and crossing it off the list. (inabigpickle)
  • With your toddler, go on trips to the museum in a group. It's so much more relaxing as they play together and you can relax a bit (although sometimes it's nice to go just you two as well!) (ctoyno)
  • Get the kids to help with watering the garden....a chore becomes a game. (Simasmum)
  • If you buy any large items keep the boxes to hand, they are great for letting the DC loose on with some paints & it can go in the recycling when they're finished. (NormaSknockers)
  • If your little ones have outdoor car toys or trikes, they can have great fun washing them in Summer; just give them a small bowl of water with some washing-up liquid in and a sponge to keep them busy for a while. (TangledUp)
  • Children have just as much fun on country walks as they do in theme parks. The lesson here is, please yourself - if you're having a good time, so will they. (TheButterflyEffect)
  • When my children became bored, tired and fractious I ran them a nice bath with lots of bubbles and toys and watched over them. They soon became soothed and relaxed. (PatUK1)
  • water painting. All you need is water, a paintbrush and some flagstones then let them paint away. Mess free although they might get wet! (hotpotmama)
  • My daughter at 4 year old could use up one workbook in couple of minutes time. One of those books comes with phonics, words, letters, math and etc... We scan the pages and save them on our computer and print whenever she need them. So we save money and she will have loads of learning sheets to use daily basis. (Divatheshopaholic)
  • Save up all your child's birthday cards and get them out on a rainy day for some cutting and pasting. I buy plain card and then get the kid's to make their own cards for friends and family using the pictures cut from their old cards. They really look fab and very individual. (wildmutt)
  • On a hot day put a washing up bowl in the garden with some cloths & maybe even a few plates you need washing. The DC think it's great fun & keep them entertained & you don't have to do the washing up! (NormaSknockers)
  • For a few hours of rainy day entertainment, get out the popcorn and watch all your old family video/dvds. Hours of fun laughing at what we were like years ago! (DaftApeth)
  • Contact your local surestart/playcentre - they often run free activities through the holidays (grumpalumpa)
  • Paper Mache is a great inexpensive way of keeping the kids entertained for a while (mayday13)
  • A salad spinner is great for making spin paintings. Simply line the spinner with a paper plate or a circle of paper, add a few squirts of paint and spin like crazy! Guaranteed to keep kids of all ages entertained as they experiment with different colours. (lillyinthesun)
  • Stuck for something to do with young children on a rainy day? Stick them in the bath with as many plastic bowls, spoons, whisks and spatulas as you can and a ton of cheap bubble bath. They'll be happy for hours, but cover floor with towels first! (MamaG)
  • Don't throw away packaging or gift wrap. Instead, keep it all together in a box and when the kids are fed up during the holidays, get the glue out and have fun! (brocher)
  • Always keep a bottle of bubbles in your handbag or changing bag, it is small to carry and always entertains in a pinch. (KTWAKEY)
  • When making pastry, rollup the leftover bits into a ball and freeze. Then on a rainy day you can defrost it and set the DC to work rolling it out, cutting shapes to their hearts content leaving you more time to MN! (NormaSknockers)
  • Play The Grocers Ball. Take turns to introduce the families that are entering the ball, eg Mr and Mrs Choke and their son Artie or Mr and Mrs Artow and their son Tom. (Ninjacat)
  • When taking the DC out for the day to an attraction make sure you check the days they're open before driving all the way there and getting them all over excited.... (NormaSknockers)
  • Give the kids cotton buds to paint with instead of brushes. They makes lovely patterns and no brushes to wash up afterwards. (lisad123wantsherquoteinDM)
  • When you lose your toddler in the changing rooms at your local pool, be sure to check all the lockers before you run around in circles screaming like a banshee. (lionheart)
  • If your child's bored during the holidays try making cheese straws with them. It's quite easy and ingredients are cheap and simple (plain flour, cheddar cheese, butter & egg). They love to snack on them, too. (MaisieToo)
  • Don't bother planning expensive trips out with your family; they will not appreciate the effort involved. A slide is a slide is a slide. Ditto ice creams from Rip Off Tourist Traps R Us. Go to the park and the local ice cream van instead. (Oliveoil)
  • Whatever you do, don't teach the DC I Spy in the car. I guarantee within 15 minutes you will be wishing they were whining again. (bratnav)
  • Our best garden game at the moment? Snail-hunting! We fill a small bucket (frighteningly easy), then we empty them in the park. Takes up lots of time, keeps the children busy and saves our flowers from destruction. Not so great for the park, perhaps. (Mousie)
  • A bowl of flour/dry pasta/rice and a wooden spoon keeps my 2 year old thoroughly occupied whilst I cook the dinner. Resulting flour carnage a bit upsetting but at least we get to eat. (rachels103)
  • On rainy days have a cinema experience: get kids to choose a film and make posters, tickets and popcorn. Get duvets on the sofa and settle in for the afternoon. I sometimes even manage a sleep while the film's on. (Wickedwaterwitch)
  • A great game for rainy days: one person sits at the bottom of the stairs with between one and five pennies in their hand. The children at the top of the stairs have to guess how many. If they guess correctly, they come down one step. The winner's the person to reach the bottom first. (devil)
  • Take a photo of your baby on the same day every month. It's great to see how much they change and grow. (Kabba)
  • Take digital photos of familiar objects or toys and use your computer to zoom in and print. Print and use for a treasure hunt - ideal for pre-readers. (pellshky)
  • To entertain your toddler whilst shopping, make them a picture equivalent of your shopping list so that they can help. (AttillaTheHan)
  • To get rid of squeaky doors rub a little vegetable or sunflower oil on the hinges and no more squeaks. (gin333)
  • Place a sticker on your little one's hand whilst changing their nappy. It will distract them long enough for you to change them without all the wiggling. (KnickersOnMaHead)
  • When changing the beds, sprinkle some Bicarbonate of Soda over the mattress, leave for 20 mins and then vac off again to make it fresh and odour free. (Ludaloo)
  • If you're going to school fairs take lots of change and a carrier bag. There is usually a shortage of both. (amicissima)
  • Giving small children a check list of small tasks when asking them to tidy their rooms (rather than just telling them to tidy up) e.g. pick up books, put toys away, fold clothes etc makes it easier for them to do it (and less likely you'll have to). (Ceolas)
  • Give your kids a paintbrush and a pot of water and let them paint the garden, garden wall, garden furniture, etc. Mess free play that keeps them occupied for ages. (FrazzledFairyFay)
  • Let your little ones use that redundant baby bath for water play in the garden. (justbeme)
  • If you have new carpet fitted, put a spare cutting underneath your high chair to prevent fresh stains. (Reana)
  • Take a tub off bubble mixture out with you at all times. Not only does it quieten down the kids, but the deep breathing does you good too.... (hanwaretta)
  • When food shopping give olders kids a smaller shopping list to collect some items for you. It stops them being bored and gives them some responsibility. (MUM2BLESS)
  • Camping this summer? A small plastic Tub Trug (flexible bucket - from garden centres) makes a perfect carrier for your clothes, towel and toiletries. (Astrophe)
  • Always keep spare carrier bags in the car, so when the kids get muddy shoes can go inside and they can sit on them to keep the car clean (PinkSparkles)
  • Have a stack of story CDs in the car and don't tell the children what they are. Then every gap between stories can be 'guessing games' as to which story is next. (tortoiseSHELL)
  • Keep carrier bags in the boot of your car to put over muddy buggy wheels, saves the inside of your boot and the fabric part of the buggy from getting dirty. (lanismum)
  • Paint a blackboard on your kitchen door or wall and keep a basket of chalk nearby. It's invaluable for lists or keeping the children busy while you prepare food. (GentleOtter)
  • Carry around a small pot of playdough, it's instant entertainment for my little one If we stop for a coffee or lunch anywere. (Joshiesmamma)
  • Wear a towelling dressing gown instead of a towel after swimming with your kids. By the time you've sorted them out you'll be dry. The pockets are handy too! (DidMcD)
  • When having little friends over for meals, have the same plates, cutlery and cups to save arguments! (CJBRDS)
  • Treat yourself to lovely notebook. Write in it special memories, funny sayings, milestones etc. Children grow up so fast it's lovely to look back on how they've changed. (tiredandgrumpy)
  • Always get more paint than you need so you can quickly touch up dirty marks and chips with the right colour. Saves having to do any major redecoration until you are ready. (Grouchyoscar)
  • Use the gold-coloured plastic tray from a box of chocolates in your jewellery box to store earrings (TheStepfordChav)
  • On wet days when you think you're stuck inside, put on raincoats and some wellies and all go jumping in puddles together. Hours of fun! (AnnieOneSeenMyPumpkin)
  • If your UV play tent didn't get much use this year, turn it into a living room den! Fill with snuggly rugs, cushions and teddies and let them enjoy. (sixofone)
  • If your toddler loves keys, go into a key cutting shop and ask for any miscut keys. They are usually free and then you don't have to worry if they get lost. (Rosa)
  • The net bags that come with washing tablets are fabulous for keeping things in-we use diferent ones for wax crayons, pens, scissors etc. (Quincywincy)
  • If your child doesn't like having his/her hair washed, invest in a pair of swimming goggles to stop water getting in their eyes. (Marne)
  • When your baby is yelling, pop her into a bouncy chair and hoover. The white noise may send her off to sleep, but if not, at least you have a clean floor! (Bramshott)
  • If your house is over run with children's masterpieces, spend time with your child selecting the best pieces and sticking them in a scrapbook. (karmamother)
  • Don't throw those soft-tipped weaning spoons away when your baby outgrows them, they are brilliant for winkling out the tantalising last dribs of honey/marmite/jam/mayonnaise that lurk in the corners of the jar, just of of reach of a normal teaspoon. (MissGolightly)
  • When your child gets attached to a soft toy try to purchase another as a back up for when it gets lost, dirty or thrown up on. (Rosa5)
  • If you're hosting a sleepover, get other parents to collect early the next morning to reduce the potential squabbling of over-tired, still-excited children. (tigermoth)
  • Give your toddler her own little flower bed/ window box to plant. Helps her understand how things grow and lets me garden undisturbed. (Robbie)
  • A wall painted with blackboard paint means that your kids can draw on it with chalks without letting them loose in the house with felt-tips. (lurkeyoflurksville)
  • Keep toddlers entertained by giving them a bucket of water and a paint brush, and letting them paint the the OUTSIDE walls of your house. (mygirlsmum)
  • A great sunday activity for young children is car booting. Give them £1 each & they'll come back with a new toy or book and will enjoy a morning out in the fresh air (zakira)
  • Instead of sending lots of e-mails with large attachments of photos to your friends and family, upload them into an online album such as photobox. You can easily add more photos as you take them. (bec3105)
  • Make your bedrooms look instantly better by ironing the duvet covers whilst on the bed - turns the bedroom into a showhome (Jampot)
  • Download the Cbeebies schedule from the website and tell the kids they can choose a fixed number of programs. This helps reduce the "the TVs been on for how long?" thing. (Freddiecat)
  • Children love looking at pictures of themselves. On a rainy day get out your photograph albums and it'll pass an hour no problem! (KimJ)
  • If your child's too big for a bib, but still messy at mealtimes, an apron will make for less fraught mornings. (peapods)
  • Pillowcases make great bed sheets for Moses basket mattresses. (Kitten34)
  • Put your mobile phone number in your baby or toddler's shoes so that when they mysteriously lose one on the street there's a chance you might get it back. (Orinoco)
  • Apple bobbing works just as well in the bath. The children get clean and the fruit gets eaten but don't put bubbles in! (Lionheart)
  • Too busy to write in a baby book? Write momentous moments on your calendar. You can then refer to it and transfer to a baby book later on. (Mommaof2)
  • For a first trip to the cinema, check the exact time that the film starts at the box office.This avoids sitting through adverts and trailers with an excited but soon to be bored and fidgety child. (unicorn)
  • Buy rolls of cheap lining paper for the kids to paint on. Great for big pictures, garden play and keeping lots of kids amused together! (Charnos)
  • When you have a new baby, keep items from the day/week of the birth, e.g the number one single, national/local papers, as well as everyday things like a petrol receipt and junk mail. (hunkermunker)
  • When you have a new baby, keep items from the day/week of the birth, e.g the number one single, national/local papers as well as everyday things like a petrol receipt and junk mail. (hunkermunker)
  • If your child has a habit of pulling everything out of your kitchen cupboards, try making one of them just for her. Rotate the things in it weekly - so she doesn't get bored. (Nancy)
  • My son hated having his face washed until I bought a flannel with his favourite TV characters on it. Now he can't wait for the Tweenies to clean him up after meal-times! (albert)
  • My son hated having his face washed until I bought a flannel with his favourite TV characters on it. Now he can't wait for the Tweenies to clean him up after meal-times! (albert)
  • Record wildlife programmes that are on television in the evening and keep them for a rainy day. Children love nothing more than watching real animals. (buttercup)
  • Use catalogues for kids as an interesting "book" - to read and then, as a special treat for good behaviour, to destroy. (fridayschild)
  • If your little one doesn't drink water try putting some ice cubes into a clean muslin - they'll suck the melting ice through the muslin and it helps for teething too! (cjmummy)
  • To keep neighbourhood kids from visiting at inconvenient times, draw a red stop sign on a piece of cardboard and hang in the front window when you don't want company. (Cod)
  • Use bath time as a time to read poetry and stories to your toddler. (anorak)
  • When taking your baby to the pool for the first time, take some favourite waterproof toys with you in order to allay any fears he might have. (Antonia)
  • Bored with the usual painting? Try adding icing sugar to make the finished pictures lovely and shiny or mix in a handful of oats/tea/flour to create lovely textures - messy but cheap and fun pictures. (BagelBird)
  • Cut all the food pictures off packaging before throwing away. On a rainy day with a bored toddler, you can stick them on a paper plate to make a meal collage. (mustrunmore)
  • Give your kids a patch of their own garden where they can plant seeds, water them and watch them grow.
  • Going to the cinema with young children? Take their car seats so they can see the screen. (Tatt)
  • Old shower curtains are perfect for protecting floors and furniture from paint and other messy play stuff. Large and waterproof, they save a fortune on carpet cleaning products!! (flangie)
  • Keep hold of the containers that your fruit and veg come in. They are great for mixing up paints inand holding beads and bits of felt etc when having an arts and craft moment with the kids. (Thomcat)
  • Before ridding yourself of worn out clothes, removes all the buttons and keep in a tin. They come in really useful for rainy days when your kids can used them for collage, making wind chimes and decorating boxes. (galaxy)
  • I recently bought my seven year old son some blank tapes and he has had great fun recording the latest tunes from the radio or favourite songs from our CD collection and hours of fun and dancing playing the tapes back. (MrsSpoon)
  • Fill a giant tub of art and craft things that your child can do on there own on days when you're feeling unwell or are really busy to keep them occupied. (fairydust)
  • Hang a mobile or other interesting thing above the bath and get your toddler to look up at it while you're rinsing their hair. (WharfRat)
  • Hate trying to get the sand of your little one's sensitive skin without removing it? Take some talc powder to the seaside. The sand dusts off easily and you can head home without bringing the beach. (mamachunks)
  • Buy packs of stickers and keep in your handbag. They're great for instant incentives and rewards, especially. for tired children when shopping. (BagelBird)
  • Keep your baby wipes moist by storing the box or pack upside down.
  • Make your own colouring books by printing your child's favourite TV characters from websites and putting them in a scrapbook creating. (bluestar)
  • Rainy afternoon? Bored children? Empty half a packet of cornflour into a bowl, add a little water and the resulting paste is fascinating - my kids will play with it for ages. (Satine)
  • If you feel bad just binning all your Christmas cards, cut out stars and snowflake shapes and use them as funky additions to a reward chart. (spots)
  • Taking your six month old to aquababies and getting them used to the water is not only fun, but also has the added benefit that they take the best naps ever afterwards. (caro222)
  • Leave one drawer full of safe bits and pieces in the kitchen, so young children can fiddle while you get things done in there. (Ixel)
  • For less hassled school-mornings, insist your children get dressed before coming downstairs, and set clear rules such as no TV until they are dressed and breakfasted. (tehanu)
  • Get those little cat identity tags engraved with your phone-number and sew them firmly on to your toddler's favourite teddy. That way when he inevitably loses them, you have a chance of getting them back! (fisil)
  • Check out the terms and conditions of your local soft play area. My local one doesn't charge until a child can walk so you can go in and have a coffee in a safe, smoke free environment with no one forcing you to buy anything and there are some toys to keep babies amused. (Bothersome)
  • Turn the changing mat around so that the padded "top" edge is closest to you. That way, if your baby pees while he or she is being changed, there is a barrier to stop the pee escaping! (Prettybird)
  • Make a 'house' out of delivery boxes - it entertained mine for about the life-span of the box. I even made little curtains for the windows and got them to help paint it. (Ra)
  • For little girls (and boys) who love to play doctors and nurses, give them a little pot of hundreds and thousands so that they can dispense medicine to their sick dollies! (emmagee)
  • If you have a sicky baby, use several pillowcases to slip over the mattress of your moses basket. That way you can easily slip them off when needed. (JiminyCricket)
  • On a rainy day, bring the seaside into your house! All you need is a blue tablecloth (or sheet or blanket) and a yellow one, 2 chairs for your boat, and lots of imagination. (MrsMiggins)
  • Use an ice-cube tray to put the paint in. It means you don't put too much paint out, there is enough space for some water and you can wash it easily under the tap afterwards. (mumbojumbo)
  • Instead of saving drawer upon drawer of your children's paintings, take photos of them and stick the photos into a book. (monty)
  • I keep a clean swing-bin under the stairs for old junk models, collages and paintings. If the kids ask for one of their 'treasures' before the bin is emptied (about every three months), it can always be retrieved. (tiddlypom)
  • On rainy days, get a washing up bowl, and send the kids round the house to find all kinds of small objects. Then ask them to guess whether the object will sink, or float. This keeps my kids amused for hours. (rachp)
  • If you find tea time hetic, set aside colouring pencils and books that can only be used at this time. They can sit happily at the table whilst you cook the tea. (Kidstrack2)
  • Get your toddler to help out in the garden. Provide them with a big bowl of water and a cup and ask them to water the flowers. (Giskin.)
  • Use a clip frame to make a collage of birthday cards - change it every year and they will always have a picture with the latest cartoon character for their bedroom. (LizP)
  • Use up your ancient burnt wooden spoons by inviting your kids to enter a wooden spoon puppet creation competition - the winner gets to devise and direct a play involving all the wooden spoon puppets. (fairynuff)
  • An excellent way to bathe a wriggly baby is to use a bucket. Your arms have support, baby feels more secure and older children think it's hilarious! (mum26boys)
  • A great activity in windy weather is leaf racing. Find a crinkly leaf each and see whose goes further. Repeat till at destination! (charliecat)
  • Keep kids entertained with a packet of digestive biscuits and a few of those icing 'pens'. They're great over Christmas when the decorations can be themed for the festive season! (sis)
  • Do write about your baby. What they do, how you feel about them, anything at all really. Now my sons are at school, I am amazed how much I have forgotten about their babyhood. I wish I'd kept some sort of baby diary. (Tigermoth)
  • My sons are horribly slow at getting dressed after swimming. To speed things up, I tell them we'll only go to the cafe for an ice cream if they're ready by the time I've counted to 30. Without that deadline and incentive, I dread to think how long we'd spend in the cubicle. (Tigermoth)
  • When your child is having their hair cut, give them a small mirror to hold and use it to direct their head in the right directions for hairdresser. It saves loads of time. (Fairydust)
  • When changing a nappy becomes an issue and your baby keeps squirming around,I found that the tunes on a mobile phone keep them distracted just long enough. (Rohey)
  • Wondering what to do with your all those pictures produced by your child? Buy a big scrapbook and spend time with your child selecting the best pieces and sticking them in. Include first writing attempts, pictures, anything you want to keep. (tealady)
  • Keep a special and intriguing toy by the changing table and only let the baby play with it while you're changing the nappy - that way the baby is distracted and wriggles less. (Pretty candles)
  • Make tidying up the bedroom into a game - like a race or take it in turns to be the Boss and tell people where to put the toys. (mumof2)
  • I used to sit my non-mobile baby in the laundry basket. He had a pillow to lean against and room to put toys in the base through the holes in the side so they couldn't be thrown. When I moved rooms, I picked up the basket and moved baby and toys easily in one go. (Pickledbeetle)
  • A cheap can of shaving foam sprayed onto a plastic tray will give a good hours worth of entertainment. Add flour to it and you can even sculpt into snowmen! (hazlenut)
  • Keep your old clothes for your kids to use for dressing up or chopping up and making things with them - keeps older ones amused for hours. (Shazaroo)
  • To give a new lease of life to old washed out T-shirts, flannels, pillowcases etc, spend a couple of pounds on a tin of cold water dye and fixative. Then spend a very happy afternoon tie-dying with your child and producing some homemade masterpieces in their favourite colour. (Posey)
  • My children are allowed just one hour of TV per day. They make a list when they arrive home from school and tot up the minutes. They enjoy their viewing and use the time in between their favourite programmes to do other things. The list means that I can check at a glance if they are keeping their side of the bargain. (Lemonade)
  • For an hour or so's peace on a warm day send the kids into the garden in their swimming costumes with a couple of buckets of water. (Roisin)
  • To keep you 18 month old occupied when you have to do a chore, give them a dustpan and brush. They will try to sweep up anything and everything but it keeps my daughter really busy. (Galaxy)
  • Let your children help in the garden with their own gardening tools - try Argos. My son loves watering all my plants and it keeps him busy so I can get on! (Jodiemay)
  • Always keep cardboard boxes - the bigger the better. My two kids play in them for hours in the garden. A few pot of poster paint and some holes and they have had houses, cars, spaceships and boats. (cliffxdavis)
  • For a cheap and cheerful bath toy, buy a plastic tea set (from the local pound shop). Your toddler will have great fun in the bath filling and pouring... (tealady)
  • If you find cutting your baby's nails a nightmare, try cutting them whilst they are sleeping, or when they have just had a bath and the nails are a little softer. (Rohey)
  • Recycle cardboard packaging by cutting out pictures for glueing and sticking. I have pictures of fish from a tissue box, of Action man from the packaging, ribbon and card from Christmas crackers. When you need a few minutes break, bring out the cut outs with a pot of glue and put your feet up. (JennyRouth)
  • Even when very young, my sons loved having a their own wallet to keep their money in. I think it encouraged them to save up their pennies as well. (Togermoth)
  • The two best distractions I have found to keep a baby or toddler still whilst having their nappy changed are a small mirror and a pair of tinted swimming goggles. (prettycandles)
  • When shopping with a little one, make a little bag of goodies for your child before you set out. I always put raisins, bits of rice cakes, carrots, apple etc all together in a little bag, and give them to my child once I start serious shopping. Keeps them entertained for a little while at least! (Jessi)
  • If your children are bored on a wet and dark winter's day, visit the websites of your child's favourite character (e.g. BOB the Builder) and there are plenty of sketch drawings to print out on A4 for your child to colour in. Sellotaping the pages onto a table are the easiest way for the children to colour them in. (Lil)
  • If the kids are bored give them some old magazines to cut up, let them cut out pictures of their favourite foods and stick them on to paper plates or older ones can cut different facial features out and stick them on to make funny faces. (Tamm)
  • Keep a memory box for each of your children and fill it with newspaper cuttings, first paintings, their first shoes, newborn outfit etc It doesn't take much effort to maintain and will give them hours of pleasure as they grow up. (PamT)
  • When you get a delivery in a large box cut out windows and doors in the box to make a dolls house and let the kids decorate it with paints and crayons. Keeps them busy for hours and it's a lot cheaper than buying a real dollshouse. (screwball)
  • Where possible, get a child's version of household appliances. When I'm hoovering my son helps me along with his little hoover. It keeps him occupied, allows me to get on with my work and he enjoys it at the same time. (carolynb)
  • Babywear catalogues are ideal if your toddler requires entertainment in a high chair for more than a couple of minutes. They love looking at the photos of babies and it doesn't matter if the catalogues get covered in food. (Bossykate)
  • While your baby is small, lie them on the floor, tie a helium balloon to his or her leg and watch as they enjoy seeing the balloon bouncing up and down! (laalaa)
  • Fill an old shoebox with unwanted copies of photographs (eg out of focus, unflattering shots!) plus any old postcards and let your baby/toddler sort through them. Great when they're beginning to speak and name objects and familiar people or places. Also great for posting into other boxes etc. (bun)
  • I bought my toddler, who would not walk anywhere, a little pushchair and put his favourite cuddly toy in it. Now can't wait to go under his own steam. (toddlertamer)
  • Fill an old shoebox with unwanted or unused copies of photographs - all those out of focus, unflattering shots and let your toddler sort through them. It's great when they're beginning to speak and name objects and familiar people or places. (bun)
  • For the long summer holiday last year I produced a 'bored box' for my six year old. I listed activities on strips of card, colour coded into three groups eg. Jessica only activity, sister and brother (age two) activity and family activity. When she was bored, she dipped into the box and hey presto a happy child. (JE)
  • Try decorating paths, drives and patios with water from a squeazy bottle (a washing up liquid bottle is ideal), on dry days. Endless hours of fun and it just evaporates away. (hmonty)
  • We often have lots of photos which are not really good enough to put in frames or in a special album, so I sometimes use these to make simple books for our baby. Our 10 month loves to look at photos of himself, other family members and his favourite toys and its a great way of encouraging babies to talk! (oxocube)
  • Use up old photos that never make it into the album by cutting up the pics and sticking them on paper and drawing/ dressing yourselves into different characters. Just made my daughters into fairies - but not sure what we'll do with my husband yet! (batey)
  • When you need to get things done in the kitchen, sit your child comfortably on the draining board, feet in the sink and have the tap running slowly. Toss in a few plastic cups etc and a towel on the floor. Do whatever you need to close by, in case he stands up. My son loves it and chats away to me while he plays. (Enchanted)
  • Cut up an old Christmas card into a jigsaw puzzle and keep it in a matchbox for use on trains or planes.
  • When going out, always have some scrap paper and pens/ pencils /crayons (depending on the age of your child) at the ready - either in the car or in your handbag. You never know when they will come in handy.
  • Get a really cheap plastic tea set, they can 'organise' their toys for a tea party/picnic etc and love to serve you with cups of tea, it can buy you a good 20 minutes! (Emmagee)
  • Let your children pick special photos and make them into a calendar ? ours couldn't wait to get to the next month.
  • My 20 month old girl will watch any programme with babies on it. So I have made up a video with Children's Hospital, baby documentaries etc and she has watched it about 15 times already. It gives me half an hour of quiet and she has learnt a whole new set of words like Look, baby born!.
  • Take a picture with the same toy (big teddies worked for us) on the same day every month from birth. It's a lovely way of charting growth and development.
  • Take your kids to look round a real working farm if you can. Mine read about them all the time and the joy on their faces when they got to sit on a real tractor was indescribable - better than any Xmas present! (Clairer)
  • Whilst sorting out the washing, ask your toddler to pair up odd socks. It keeps them occupied and teaches them to identify pairs. (Ra)
  • Start a scrapbook. We've made one with our 4 year old, full of tickets, leaflets and maps of all our fun days out. He loves looking back at it and it's a wonderful way to keep the memories alive. (Kes)
  • As soon as the sun comes out keep them happy and develop their artistic talents with patio and wall painting using water as paint and brushes to apply. On a hot day it keeps them cool and the sun clears up the mess! (Frenchie)
  • Keep them entertained over the holidays by collecting all the competition entry forms for kids you can find. The thought of all those prizes will keep them focussed and busy for hours. Who knows they might even win! (carolius)
  • A bowl of warm water and some cups in the garden, gives half an hour of peace, at any time of year. (But expect to change their clothes). (KMG)
  • If you have a late night toddler and the evening seems long - take them supermarket shopping. Sounds horrendous I know, but the shop's emptier, they've had their tea so are either less likely to want unsuitable snacks or if they do at least it's not spoiling their appetite, plus you get to chat through the day with them as they sit in the trolley - quality time and a chore done.
  • When your new baby starts sleeping less and needs a change of scene, try a large basket (e.g. dog basket), and line it with blankets and towels to keep out drafts. It's comfortable enough to sleep in; there is room for toys and she can see older siblings on the same level yet be protected in her own space.
  • A short length of clean guttering makes a great toy for playing with small cars. Just prop one end against the sofa and the cars race down. (todaywasfun)
  • If your child is painting add a drop of washing up liquid to the paint, which helps remove the paint stains when washing. (comicmag)
  • A great sunday activity for young children is car booting. Give them £1 each and they will come back with a new toy. (zakira)
More tips
 
Behaviour and Development Birthday parties Breast and bottle
Childcare Christmas Education
Food Good Housekeeping Health
Money-saving Parenting and Family Life Potty training
Pregnancy and Birth Relationships Sleep
Teenagers Teething Things to do
Travel Twins and Multiples