Indoor, build it yourself, toddler obstacle course! Kid approved!
My kids are high energy. I don't mean they play a lot and then pass out exhausted. I mean they run, jump, play, roll and then fight sleep until ten pm regularly. So to really wear them out we have to get creative. For those who don't know, we currently live in Kentucky, transplanted from Michigan. Michigan hot and Kentucky hot are not the same kind of hot. Our kids get a kick out of walking outside and yelling, "UUUUUGHHHH, it's Kentucky hot out here!" They don't last long outdoors during summers here.
Finding creative ways to wear them out used to be easy! Shove them outside and call it a day, right? But in heat like this they want back inside before lunch. I do not mind them watching TV and playing tablets, but even in a screen friendly house there is a limit to how much we allow. Once the TV is off and the tablets are put away, it gets difficult to manage the four kid chaos without losing my mind. Not to mention the boredom they experience after a few hours of reading books and playing with toy. Especially when they're more accustom to running all over creation than sitting in the house.
As I brainstormed ways to keep them moving without losing my marbles, I found way more advice than I knew what to do with! You all know, if you've read even one of my posts, just how obsessed I am with Pinterest. I was far from disappointed as I looked through what must have been millions of posts about gross motor play for indoors. The other factor that comes into play for me when I'm searching for kid friendly activities is cost. If it requires a trip to the store, $100 and forty-five minutes of construction, I'm not for it. For this particular activity, I spent $1, 20 minutes and got my supplies when I was already at the store. Nothing big or fancy required!
Calling this an obstacle course may be a stretch, but for a five, four and two year-old it's the best and most exciting way to describe it. I snagged a 2 pack of electrical tape at Dollar Tree and got to work! Side note: this electrical tape is so much more versatile than I anticipated, I've even used it to decorate a wall in our bathroom. That story will have to wait for another time! First step in the obstacle course project was cleaning my floor. I won't pretend that my floor stays clean, I have four kids, they make messes in their sleep. Just get the floor clean enough for the tape to stick and move the toys out of the way, it'll be fine. My life motto, "it'll be fine." It's usually not, but in this case, roll with it!
I didn't really stick to any plan as far as putting down the tape. As I went I created new "obstacles" such as a dance party box and frog jump sections. The kids really just have fun doing whatever comes to mind as they walk through the course, so putting rules in place is sort of silly. If you have older kids, you can make the rules more concrete. I even considered turning it into a challenge. Who can get the furthest without making an error or falling over? But again, my kids are quite little and we're already ridiculously competitive, this one can just be for fun!
Just so you have an idea of how successful this idea has been, Jeremy left for work over an hour ago, they've been on the course the whole time he's been gone. They're taking turns, teaching new moves, Uriah is even teaching his dinosaurs how to do the course. I think it's love. I also think I'll be leaving this tape on the floor until we move, hope it withstands mopping. Isilee decided she wanted less to do with the obstacle course and created her own version, climbing the baby gate. How is this child ten months old, honestly?
We are always trying to find new and exciting ways to keep our kids from boredom. It isn't always easy and they certainly will tell you if they're not having it! Gross motor is important to our kids, even though they have no idea what it means. They're constantly running, jumping, refining their climbing skills and more! I love to watch them master a new skill and play like this just helps build their skills. Or, as Zadok calls them, their rad moves.