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You’re on a call with a client when your two-year-old latches onto your leg whining “Plaaay.” Despite 60 minutes of virtual mommy and me class this morning followed by an episode of Blue’s Clues, you turn on Peppa Pig and promise yourself to turn it off as soon as you’re done with work. With so much of life viewed virtually nowadays, the American Academy of Pediatrics screen time guidelines can be hard to follow. Is it realistic, given today’s situation, to have no screen time for toddlers under 18 months, except for family video chats? Or only high-quality programming apps for kids 18-24 months that you watch together, like Sesame Street? Or only an hour or less of high-quality programming per day which, ideally, you should watch with your 2-3-year-old? It’s a good goal, but not really realistic for most of us. That said, we’ve got ideas that might make screen-free time fun for both you and your little ones, even on rainy days.

  • Build a fort. Cover a dining table with a sheet, toss in some pillows and enjoy the fun.
  • Pull a mattress onto the floor and let little gymnasts go wild!
  • Dance party! Turn on the tunes and add a disco light.
  • Dress-up. Kids will play for hours with old Halloween costumes, dance revue costumes, first-responder gear, cowboy hats and more.
  • Have an indoor picnic. Lay a sheet on the floor; add finger food and beverages in non-spill cups.
  • Go on a blanket ride. Pull the kids around the house—pretend you’re a train, a boat or a spaceship.
  • Embark on a treasure hunt. Take turns hiding stuffed toys, blocks or anything toddler-friendly around the house. Draw a map and cheer the kids on when they find the treasures.
  • Play a game of bowling using empty water bottles and a soft indoor-safe ball.
  • Make an indoor hopscotch board or a maze using blue painter’s tape.
  • Give the kids a box—the bigger the better. Cut out a door or window and let their imaginations take over.
  • Make paper airplanes and let ’em fly.
  • Finger paint. Line the floor with a plastic shower curtain, add lots of paper and finger paints. Then get your hands messy as you create with the kids.
  • Channel your inner thespian—don’t just read, perform. Use different voices, exaggerated facial expressions and props to make stories come alive.
  • Bake! Refrigerated cookie dough makes it easy to create edible masterpieces—and decorating them together is a blast.

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