Gift-With-Purchase Alert! Scroll down to "1. Forbidden Coloring" to get all the details.
In the words of the narrator from Baby Penguins Everywhere, as happy as the mother penguin was, she needed something. "Just a minute to herself." My son recites this page to me every time we read the book. While he's memorized the line, it hasn't really sunk in with him that Mommy really does need a minute. Or 15. But, you know, he's four, so I can't really hold it against him.
But what I can do is buy myself some time. It comes by way of toothbrushes, tiny buried treasures, bendy pipe cleaners, and other keep-them-busy tools. I keep a stockpile of all of the below for times when I need to make a call, clean some area of the house, or (gasp) drink a cup of coffee before it goes cold.
Feel free to join in on the fun should you wrap up those tasks early. The animal baths are hard to resist.
1. Forbidden Coloring When you tell kids every day of their lives that coloring is for *paper* only, their minds are blown when you introduce fabric markers. You'll get 15 minutes of downtime easily. Which is why we created a custom Boomdash Coloring Kit (check it out in the photo above), which includes a zippered canvas pouch filled with fun shapes that can be colored in (or scribbled on) and then used for toting other arts/crafts, toys, diapers, and other mini essentials when you're out and about.
Bonus: We're giving them away! Make a purchase and you'll receive a complimentary kit (one zippered, printed, canvas pouch and four fabric markers) with while supplies last. Simply add items to your cart and you'll see your gift appear.
2. Animal Baths Snag a bucket, soapy water and/or bubble bath, dish towels, and a few toothbrushes. Lisette from Where Imagination Grows suggests this as a sensory activity, and it works as a quiet-time one, too. Fair warning: This one could get messy if you give them too much water. A mixing bowl is best, and line the table with towels beforehand. Hand them a toothbrush and they'll be happily scrubbing away the entire time.
3. Rice Treasure Hunt If you have an empty water bottle and uncooked rice at home, you've got this. Collect all the little bits-and-bobs items/toys you can find around the house (the smaller the better), like dice, buttons, Legos, etc. and drop them in amongst the rice. Shake it up, and ask the kids to find everything inside. If you're a planner or somewhat organized, you could create a checklist for them.
Too little to play? For preschoolers, you can create a scooping game with items buried in the rice within an open container like Mama Instincts did. She used a coffee scoop and pom poms, but honestly, any small objects would do.
4. Threading Station We like how Susie from BusyToddler.com thinks. The former teacher is now a stay-at-home mom and she's imparting her classroom experience into each day, including skills learned with each activity. One of my favorites: the Threading Station. All it takes are pipe cleaners, cut-up straws, and a storage bin. Plus, you could add on shoe boxes, paper towel rolls and other sturdy paper/cardboard shapes to mix it up and get more life out of the materials.
5. Lego Scales Grab a hanger, some yarn, a bucket of bricks, and let the Lego math begin. Sarah of Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls put together this genius activity for her 6-year-old son, which lets kids weigh things around the house to answer the question, "How many Legos does it weigh?" The hanger, when placed on a doorknob, serves as a homemade scale, and they'll spend a decent amount of time getting everything from shoes to stuffed animals to balance with the appropriate amount of Legos on the other side.
Once you successfully secure those 15 minutes, here's how you should spend them now and then. And don't forget to share your kids' creations from that stolen time with us by tagging @boomdashkids and #15minutes on Instagram. We'll feature our favorites on the site!