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Visiting family and friends with a toddler

August 4, 2017  |  Claire Russell

It's the summer holidays and you've decided to pack up the car and head off to see family and friends. After the days of packing for a baby, you're used to leaving the house with every possible item you own. However your baby is growing up now and it's lovely to leave the house with a bag rather than a suitcase, just the same as it's nice to travel in the car without your knees around your chin with a foot well and every other space in the car filled with 'essentials'. So I'm here to help you travel lightly yet still find ways of keeping your toddler occupied when you go to visit family and friends.


So the best thing about visiting someone else's house is the novelty factor. You're little one is going to love exploring new places, opening doors and cupboards to see where they lead to. Other people's houses are also full of new things too, and here's your opportunity to get creative and put together some activities little from nothing! Let's hope your family and friends are the understanding type and don't mind you rummaging around their house!


I would always suggest when travelling with a toddler that you take a few basic items. Several story books for bedtimes and two or three well loved items should do the trick! The rest can be found once you're there!


The best place to find play items is the kitchen. So let's start by looking for tools. Something your child can use, practise their hand eye co-ordination and will probably provide lots of stimulation. So we're thinking kitchen utensils. Safe ones of course but large and small spoons, plastic or wooden, sieves, tongs, spatulas and ladles etc. All great for sensory or water play and no doubt different to the ones you have at home.


Now were looking for boxes, trays, baskets or containers that can be used for play. Nothing delicate or valuable because we all know nothing is safe when in the hands of a toddler! But these are all versatile items that your little one can use along with their imagination. A recycling box of items for the bin is always a good place to look for these sorts of items. And of course, here you will also find tubes, pots and other goodies!


Next we're heading into the pantry. We're looking for leftovers, ends of packets etc that you know your little one will love. And if you think about it, your doing your family and friends a favour by helping them to have a sort out!! Anything like rice, pasta, noodles, spaghetti, cereals, lentils, beans etc are all ideal.


By now you should hopefully have a few items that you could use to create an activity. If you have a little bit of time to add food colouring to some of the food items, it's certainly worth it as it makes it so much more inviting. Don't forget toddlers love to fill, empty, destroy or create so anything along those lines will be ideal. All great for practising their physical skills and using their imagination. Remember you could always add those well loved items such as cars or people to their play to make it irresistible! Also, if you can't think of an activity to create, I bet your toddler can. Provide them with the items and see what they come up with themselves, they are more likely to concentrate for longer on an activity they have created themselves. 


The best place for any messy or water play is always outside or in an empty bath, afterall you want to be invited back to friends and family again!! Failing that, a large bedsheet or tablecloth on the floor will help to catch the mess.


Phew! You've put the hard work in now the kids should be busy and you can finally sit down and enjoy catching up with your beloved friends and family! Let the holidays begin!