When you’re a parent keeping your kid(s) entertained and engaged throughout the day is a constant challenge, especially as most of us continue to hunker down at home. When you’re an IBD parent, throw extended bathroom breaks, overwhelming fatigue, and debilitating pain into the mix. Keeping up with your kids, while making sure they’re safe and not getting too much screen time can sometimes feel like an insurmountable task. Just as it’s imperative we are proactive at managing our IBD, it’s also extremely beneficial to be proactive as parents. This is where busy boxes come in.
I first heard of this concept when I was pregnant with my daughter Sophia. My son wasn’t even two when she was born. I had intentions of breastfeeding (and I did), but between nursing and pumping, that’s hard to do when you have a busy toddler running around the house, while managing the day-to-day of life with a chronic illness.
What’s so great about busy boxes is that you can be creative, tailor them to your child’s age and interests, and do so without breaking the bank. As a mom of a 3.5-year-old and a 22-month-old, with winter approaching in the Midwest in the middle of a pandemic, I’m starting to update my busy boxes for the long months ahead. I started this past weekend. I went to the Dollar Store and got this haul for a mere $14.
Whether you’re at Target, Hobby Lobby, or on Amazon, you can pick up little activities as you go to continue to keep the content within the busy boxes fresh.
Creating your busy boxes
Sensory busy box: Hide farm animals, dinosaurs, or cars in rice, pasta, or kinetic sand.
Themed activities. My daughter loves Frozen, so I included stickers, puzzles, books, and trinkets. My son loves dinosaurs and sea creatures so I will keep that focus in mind as I update his busy boxes.
Letters/Words and Numbers/Counting: Include items that help your child learn the alphabet, recognize numbers, spell, learn opposites, matching and rhyming.
Shapes: Puzzles, felt designs of food and people, and paint-by-sticker books, you get the picture.
Storing your busy boxes
It’s best to keep busy boxes out of reach from your children so it’s something that’s not always accessible. That way, it feels like a fresh new activity. We keep our busy boxes stowed away in the kid’s bedroom closets (where they can’t reach them). As an IBD mom, I recommend keeping a box nearby the bathroom so if needed, your child can sit at your feet and be entertained with little to no effort on your part. Busy boxes also come in handy when you’re trying to cook dinner or having to be on a Zoom call for work. I knew it was time for me to update Reid’s busy boxes this week when I looked over during a Zoom call and he was jumping up and down on a bag of opened pretzels. Fun times! 🙂
Helpful busy box resources
Still looking for some inspiration? Pinterest is a great resource to check out ideas and to come up with activities for your little ones.
Here are some Instagram handles that provide helpful activities and guidance about educating and entertaining your child at home (no affiliations, just giving them a shout out) in hopes of helping you:
As we gear up for the winter months and this pandemic drags on, I hope you find this useful as an additional tool in your chronic illness parenting arsenal. I know it does my heart good to know I have something fun and engaging to share with my kids, especially on the days when my Crohn’s interferes with my plans or expectations for the day.