Mom Life · Toddlerhood

Lazy Mom’s Survival Tool Box

Mom Confession: I don’t want to spend all my time making my kid’s lives magical. Most of the time I love creating fun things for them to do and planning trips and outings. But sometimes I just want to stay at home and not do anything. Or at the very least catch up on housework and the latest American Ninja Warrior (that’s right I’m obsessed).

Today is one of these days. It’s hot outside. Way too hot to want to do anything. And even with the air conditioner on, our house will be hot. The girls love outside time and need it to burn off extra energy. Without it the energy converts to whines and complaints. But outside is just too hot for two little girls who overheat at 60 degrees. And I’m tired. I’m running on less than 6 hours of sleep a night. I’m sore and whiny too. We will be staying inside today.

While on some days like today I will create fun art projects or science experiments to do. Some days I just don’t have it in me. When this happens is when I feel the most guilty. I’m tired. I want to try to do something around the house for me or for the house. And planning, setting up, playing, and cleaning up after children the entire day isn’t it.

So, I want to take a second to go through the survival tool box of stuff. This stuff is the things that help me keep my sanity. They also ease the guilt a little because the girls have fun.


While outside stuff does require me to be outside and watching the girls. It is nice because they can keep themselves occupied which means I can take a kindle and read or catch up on shows or just spend some mom time facebooking.

The Pools

I love this blow-up pool because the kids think it is amazing and a big deal. I love it because I can watch them and put my feet in the water to stay cool. And maybe occasionally throw a ring or ball.

Inflatable Play Center

We also have a small cheap plastic pool for our deck. That is much easier to clean and take care of.  This was just one of the ones from the dollar store that we bought for like $5. If you just want something quick to cool the kids off, this is the best thing. Don’t spend the extra money for a big one unless you know they will love it. Our $5 pool is filled with buckets, cups, and little toys. The girls mostly spend their time pouring water from the pool on their (or mom’s) feet. I frequently have to refill but in between I get about 15-20 minutes to myself.

Water Table

Speaking of things on our Deck. Before we trusted the girls to play in the pool we bought this water table. Tempest has loved this from day one. We don’t use sand with it because I am sure that would make just a big sand/mud mess. But even with just water Tempest loves this. I will say that the paddle wheel is designed for sand so with water it spits all over. Tempest thinks this is even more fun.

American Plastic Toy Water Wheel Play Table

I bought this one because it was on sale for $15 but I really recommend looking at all of the other ones. I wouldn’t typically pay more than $20 for this one. There are a ton of super cool ones out there. I totally would love to buy like 10. I think the girls would love them, but even I want to play with them. This one actually ends up like a large bucket for water pouring more than a play table. I probably could have spent the $15 on plastic totes and gotten the same effect. Although this is much cuter on my deck and since I really want to better homes and garden house (even though I know it isn’t realistic) I’m glad we got it. We have our’s set up right next to the pool So the girls can bounce back and forth. this allows mom to sit for longer. Mint Julep, anyone?

Inside: Sit Down Please

Play Dough

This is one of the very few activities that my children will sit still for. When they are playing I can even come downstairs and get on the computer or do laundry. I hear so many parents who say they have a hatred for play dough, but I really just don’t understand it.

Play dough is super cheap. Tempest gets to pick out a new color every time we go to the store, it’s less than a dollar and makes her so super happy. I’m sure one day the girls and I will be super crafty and make our own, but for now I’m happy to keep buying it.

The best thing about play dough is that when it dries it turns hard which means I can just sweep it away. I already have to sweep daily because the children are crumb machines.

It’s one of the easiest art projects that I can possible have. The girls have a ton of stamps that help them with numbers and letters, so it is even educational


This is a classic staple to parent sanity. We have color books for restaurants. We have big ones, little ones, ones with stickers. We even have a big easel for the girls to color. I love coloring. And as you can tell anything that gets them to sit down for more than three seconds is ok with me.

A warning though in case you are just getting into toddlerhood. Toddlers are crayon smugglers. I don’t know how it happens, but Alice will find a crayon and hide it for later. She brings them out when alone so she can decorate things like, her bed, the walls, random books, Mom’s work notes. Pretty much anything and everything in this house has crayon on it.

So while this does provide a moment of peace, it can potentially have longer consequences that are detrimental to your magazine cover house.

Vtech’s Go!Go! Sets

The Vtech sets are awesome. Tempest has just gotten into putting the tracks together. Alice just really likes the cars right now. I can see them playing with these for at least a few years, and really anything that gets more than a year’s worth of use with babies, toddlers, preschoolers, is amazing. These sets do keep the girls occupied. We have both animals and cars and they mix together.

Forewarning for Parents: These cars are alive and have a mind of their own. Turn them off after they are done playing with them, otherwise you will be sitting there watching TV and hear “I’m Frank, and This is my fire truck” (This is Alice’s favorites and always the one that seems to go off).

Fire Command Rescue Center Playset

Inside: Get Moving

My girls still need to be active during the day (see note above about whines and complaints). So, I have stuff for that too.


If you have room in your house for a little slide like this. Buy it! Buy it right now! This is the number one thing I could have bought my active children. We bought it for Tempest for her first birthday and it is used every day. Not only can the girls run and slide on it, they can also slide balls down it and then go and chase the balls. I cannot say enough about the slide. We can take it outside or leave it in. I like it inside because they can run around and I can write.

Little Tikes First Slide, Red/Blue


We bought Tempest a little trampoline for Christmas after her first birthday. She loves bouncing.

Galt Toys Nursery Trampoline

This is the trampoline we bought. I will say about this particular model the turtles head ripped after about 6 months and now just lies on the floor, and the skirting bunches up a little after a year of use. But we have gotten our use out of this thing. It is really sturdy so even when both girls are on it and are screwing around it won’t tip. I love that it isn’t super bouncy so it was perfect for Tempest when she was one and two. Now that Tempest is a little older (and Alice is the size of a 5-year-old) we could use a more standard gym trampoline. But I didn’t want anything with too much bounce when they were little.


We only have about a million. Seriously, for a child a ball is endless fun. Blow up beach balls, balls with handles to bounce on, kick balls, bouncy balls. It doesn’t matter.

The girls even have a ball pit because they are spoiled. My thinking would be it would keep the balls all in one spot. This of course is not actually the case, but at least the girls can use it as a tent.

Hexagon Pop Up Ball Pit Tent

The Key

If you’ve made it this far in this post congratulations, you now know how I keep my little bit of sanity I have left when we are home all day. There is a key to all of this though. And it is to not have all of the toys out all at once. This is a lesson I learned the hard way. When everything is reachable all the time they will play with nothing. But when I have things  put away and bring them out, it’s now a new fun thing, even if they have played it a million times.

*This post contains affiliate links. They are only for the products I use. If I recommend them, I love them wholeheartedly. I have included amazon links because I’m obsessed with ordering from them. I don’t have to leave and with Amazon Prime stuff gets to my house in 2 days (which is way before I could make it to the store). It’s a great way for me to show you what I use. And if you want them too, it’s easy for you to find. You should feel under no obligation to buy these products or buy them from my link.

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2 thoughts on “Lazy Mom’s Survival Tool Box

  1. Thanks. I love playing with the girls, but if that is all I did I couldn’t work and we wouldn’t have clean clothes or food to eat. Someone’s got to do it. I love anything that keeps them occupied for more than a minute


  2. I love these ideas! Creative, inexpensive and totally loved by kids of all ages.

    Because sometimes we do need to be an adult and ourselves, without playing with the kids!

    Thanks for sharing and reading,

    Sarah Butland
    author of Being Grateful, Being Thankful


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