Wondering how to keep your toddler twins busy? Check out our top five tips to help you get through this challenging time of twin parenting.
Got toddler twins? How’s your sanity doing these days? We totally get it here at Twiniversity. Keeping toddler twins busy and safe while trying to keep up with housework, your job, and marriage can be difficult. While the spit-up and sleepless nights are dwindling, walking twins present a whole new set of challenges for twin parents.
It can seem impossible to get anything done while your twins are awake, aside from keeping them alive. That said, it is totally possible to keep your twinnies safe and occupied while you check things off your to-do list. Read on for our top five tips for staying sane with twin toddlers.
1. Keep Twin Toddlers Busy With Independent Play
Independent play can be the key to saving your sanity with toddler twins. Not only can it give you a much-needed break and/or time to get housework done, but research shows that children thrive with the space and time to entertain themselves.
Of course, it’s important to engage and play with your twin toddlers but spending every minute of your day on the floor with them isn’t great for anyone, so don’t feel guilty. Just remember that independent play encourages the development of self-confidence, resilience, imagination, and patience.
If your twins constantly rely on you for entertainment, start independent play slow, and stay close by. Set them up with a few safe toys in a safe space and check in every few minutes or as needed but don’t interrupt them unless you have to. They might cry at first, just reassure them that you’re there and will be back to play soon. With practice, they will come to love this time to explore and experiment.
As toddler twin parents we have an extra advantage: we don’t have to feel guilty about leaving our toddlers to play all by themselves. Yay for built-in playmates! While it will be a while before your twins are actually playing with each other, the company of a twin can help ease the transition from having their parents as entertainment to independent play.
2. Create A Designated “Yes” Space for Busy Twin Toddlers
Most families have a designated playroom for all the toys that come with infants and toddlers. However, if you want to maximize your ability to get things done without having to keep a super close eye and redirecting them, then a “Yes” space is your answer.
While a playroom is often a catch-all for toys, art supplies, and books, these spaces can often be overwhelming for toddlers and preschoolers. They can become cluttered and messy after a good play session, especially if you have older children. As such, it is not usually safe to let toddlers play alone in the typical playroom.
Enter the toddler “yes” space! Designed specifically with a toddler’s safety in mind, this can be a room or a blocked-off area where toddler twins can be completely free to play without direct guidance or intervention. The idea is that you don’t have to worry about their safety and your children never have to hear “No!” or, “Don’t do that!” in this space. Everything is safe and fair game. A playpen works until you need more space for mobile babies.
The most important part of a yes space is that it’s perfectly safe. Cover all outlets, remove any loose or hanging cords, and be sure it is secure. A favorite of veteran twin parents is the baby play yard which can be used to block off access to a room or create an enclosed place for play.
The key to a good yes space is to keep it simple with just a few of their favorite toys. Here are some ideas to get you started:
“Yes” Space Toy Ideas
- a plastic mirror
- soft balls
- stacking sets of blocks and cups
- a cozy corner with a basket of board books
- baskets of containers of all kinds, with lids
- a bin of toddler-friendly cars, trains, animals, and people
- baby dolls
- hats, bags, and scarves
If space is limited, your yes space might be your playroom. This is fine, but set it up so that you can restrict access to items like a climber/slide, riding toys, paper books, art supplies, table, chairs, etc. that are not safe to use when you’re not right there.
TWINIVERSITY TIP: Remember, no matter how many door knob covers and cabinet locks you have, when given the chance, toddler twins will find and destroy your every weakness. While known as “baby jail” in some circles, contained freedom is absolutely one of the keys to staying sane with twins.
Need some baby safety training? Take the Twiniversity Complete Baby Safety course, offered on-demand. Includes video modules on infant, toddler, and child CPR, first aid, and common medical ailments, plus car seat installation and safety and childproofing your home. Click here to learn more!
3. Keep Toddler Twins Busy by Limiting and Rotating Toys
One of the most frustrating times with twin toddlers is when they won’t give you a minute and go play. Maybe you have an important phone call to make or need to help your older child with homework. Sometimes, our twins want to play but are overstimulated by mess or too many choices. One of the keys to successful independent play for toddler twins is the organization of a few great toys. This is in contrast to the classic endless options for entertainment. Research shows that limiting your toddlers’ choices encourages them to explore and learn more, boosts creativity, and actually reduces boredom.
To start, take stock of what you have. Throw out anything that is broken, missing pieces, or doesn’t ever get played with. Then, organize your playroom based on your kids’ interests and abilities. Remember to put out only a few toys at a time. Begin with the real joy-sparkers that get played with over and over, and swap in a few novel toys every few weeks. By keeping it simple, you won’t need a ton of shelves and bins and clean-up is a breeze. Don’t stress over having “enough” toys available – less really is more!
Toy Rotation Ideas
- books and stuffed animals
- stacking sets and blocks
- Large motor items (tunnel, tent, slide, exercise ball, hula hoops)
- cars, trucks, and train sets
- animal and people figurines
- tool sets and action figures
- tea party and play food sets
- Duplo or mega blocks
- dress-up and kitchen play items (hats, bags, scarves, spoons, empty food containers)
When toys are not in use, store them in a bin in the garage or closet. In a few weeks, or whenever necessary, change up what’s available. It’s fun to see them discover and play with something “new”! Sometimes you can even get dinner done before they start fighting over them!
RELATED: Doing Housework with Infant Twins
4. Use Busy Boxes for Bored Toddler Twins
Even if you have the perfect yes space and a great toy rotation system, you will probably feel the need to shake things up a bit on a rough day or keep them extra busy when you have a new baby or an older sibling who needs you too. A great solution is to create busy boxes or simple invitations to play.
When doing your toy rotation, go through and put together a few safe and developmentally appropriate activities or toys that your toddlers can enjoy alone. Store them out of reach in bins or boxes and take them out when you really need to do something, like cook dinner or take care of a sibling.
Busy Box Ideas
- ribbon, fabric, and large spice bottles or containers to pile in and pull out
- foam blocks, letter and shape puzzles
- plastic caps and links to drop-in containers with holes in the lids
- large tangram shapes
- magnetic letters or animals with a cookie sheet or magnet board
- cotton balls or pom-poms and toilet paper tubes
- bean bags, soft balls, and buckets to toss into
- hand mirrors with hats, scarves, mittens, and socks
- wooden peg puzzles
The great thing about busy boxes is that they’re simple and temporary, usually only used for a few hours a few times a week, so they never lose their allure. They’re perfect for when laundry is piling up or you have company coming and need to clean but your toddler twins won’t leave you alone!
Need some 1-on-1 time with a twin expert to work on your twin parent problems? Book a virtual coaching session with Natalie Diaz, Twiniversity founder, and twin parent coach to talk about your issues, whether you’re still pregnant or your kids are about to start college. Click here to learn more, and while you’re at it, check out Nat’s lactation consulting services and the Twiniversity shop!
5. Keep Toddler Twins Busy by Enlisting Their Help
Sometimes toddlers just will not give you a minute to do something, even if you’ve played with them for hours. Maybe they’re cranky or teething, but often, whatever you’re doing looks more fun to them. Take advantage of their need to be close and create opportunities for them to participate and practice life skills, all while you get your work done (hopefully):
Laundry with Toddler Twins
While folding clothes, give the twins a laundry basket filled with washcloths. They might copy what you do or they’ll just fill and dump the basket over and over before climbing in/on it. Put your piles in a basket or on a table to minimize overturning by “helpful” toddlers
Cooking with Twin Toddlers
Set your toddlers up with some kitchen items like cups, spoons, rubber whisks, bowls, pots, and pans to “cook” with. Give them some recyclables like pasta boxes, spice bottles, berry clamshells, and yogurt containers. If you’re brave and able to multitask put some ice, water, or vegetable peels and tongs in a salad bowl for an instant sensory activity.
Lay a towel on the floor nearby and give them bins or salad bowls with a bit of water in the bottom, some plastic cups, spoons, and plates to “wash” and wet washcloths. “Squirt” some soap on (just pretend because they’ll end up sucking on the cloth) and let them go to town.
Inviting them to participate at this age is not only fun for them, it can also contribute to lifelong interests in cooking, helping out others, and pride in taking care of their home and things.
Need some twin parent friends? Get the support you need with a Twiniversity Membership. Benefits include a monthly twin parent club meeting on Zoom, access to a private Facebook group just for twin parents, and a video library of twin parenting lessons. Visit Twiniversity.com/membership to join today!
Keep Them Busy and Stay Sane With Toddler Twins
As parents of toddler twins you already know that the days of getting everything done are long gone. Some days it’s a struggle just to brush your teeth! However, it is definitely possible to tackle your to-do list and get a minute’s peace, even with twin toddlers. The key is to set your toddlers up for success. Start independent play early, give them their own space and fill it with what they love. While you obviously won’t be running errands or heading to the gym, you might just find time to fold a load of laundry or just enjoy that second cup of coffee in peace.