If you are the mother of a preschooler, you have your hands full.  As a former preschool teacher, I have learned that the best way to keep them happy and entertained is to give them plenty to do.  My youngest daughter now in her preschool years (3), is most definitely a hand full.  To avoid behavior problems, preschoolers need to be kept busy even if it’s a minor activity.  Hands-on is key!

Here is a brief checklist to keep your preschooler happy and mommy sane: (click the titles of each suggestion to take you to a resource site.)

  • Activity box/file folders Print out a variety of preschool printables and activities and place in plastic zip-lock baggies.  Keep them stored away for a rainy day.  I usually try to include lacing cards, felt fun, and play-dough.  Lacing cards are easy.  Print out a fun picture, punch holes all the way around the edges, and have a piece of yarn handy.  Tie a knot at the end, big enough not to pull through the holes, and tape the other end to make it sturdy for lacing.  This is awesome for fine motor skills and keeps them busy for maybe longer than 10 minutes at a time.
  • Crayon/Book Bag-Gather a variety of age-appropriate books, coloring books/pages, and crayons.  This is great in the home and out of the home as well. Perfect for long car rides.
  • Sticker Charts-Keep sticker charts handy to reward your preschooler for positive behavior at home and in public.  They thrive on this and motivates them to earn their stickers.
  • Hand Wipes-Preschoolers are mess magnets, always keep your purse replenished with hand wipes and hand sanitizer.
  • Change of Clothes-Again, preschoolers tend to get messy whether it’s through food accidents, potty accidents, etc.  Keep a zip-lock bag of weather appropriate clothes in your car at all times.  An extra pair of shoes is not a bad idea either.
  • Snack Bag-Since preschoolers are active throughout the day, their little tummies can become hungry fairly quickly.  Keep a pack of healthy, non-perishable snacks available with bottled waters.  This is great when you have a busy day of errands ahead of you when they are not in school.  Gerber makes healthy preschool snacks.  Or, get creative and make your own.  Dried fruits, veggies, etc., are kid pleasers.
  • Technology-It’s inevitable, even preschoolers are educated with computers, iPads, etc.  If you are the owner of an iPhone, iPad, Kindle Fire, etc., install preschool learning apps.  There are a variety out there and are great when you are say, stuck at the auto shop waiting for your car to be fixed.  Use these activities at your discretion.  Too much time with these types of games will inhibit their development in other areas.
  • Nap Times-Enforce nap times for your preschooler if possible.  This will cut down on the crankies and is good for their growth and development.  If your preschooler refuses to nap, enforce a half hour quiet time.  Play soft classical music and have them relax with a book or even a back rub.
  • Gross MotorOn weather permitting days, be sure to take your preschooler outside for playground fun or even just to run around to let out that energy.  This is essential to their growth and development.  If it’s raining or too cold, do music and movement with your preschooler or find a fun gross motor video for your child to enjoy.

I compiled this checklist since my oldest daughter was a preschooler.  It works very well. Now adding technology, even better!  Want to take it up a notch?  Parents.com has “100 Ways to Keep Little Kids Happy.”  These are great for extremely busy days or even those boring and blah days.  Remember, a preschooler’s attention span is about 10 minutes.  After that time they are ready to move onto something else.  Being ready for them makes life so much easier. This is beneficial even for the stay at home mom or working mom.  Here’s to motherhood!



Image courtesy of [Stuart Miles] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of [David Castillo] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Detroit Mommies Expert Contributor
Lindsey is a homeschool mom of three in Southeast Michigan. She is the creator of Michigan blog Michigan Home Mommy Works and blogs for Homeschooling in Detroit.
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Jamie Wagner
Jamie Wagner
11 years ago

Great ideas, Lindsey. My daughter is 2 but I can see a lot of merit in what you suggest to help keep her occupied. She’s a handful as well! Thanks!