What’s a fun, easy activity for kids of all ages that can be done at home and costs essentially nothing?
Of course, there is more than one answer (please tell me more ideas in the comments!) but for me, the tried-and-true answer is a PICNIC! Not much else gets an instant shout for joy on behalf of my toddler than when I declare that we are having a picnic.
Picnics are great when…
I’ve just finished cleaning the kitchen from breakfast and don’t feel like dealing with a high chair mess again…PICNIC!
It’s raining and you can’t go play outside even if you wanted to…PICNIC!
My toddler is starting to whine and I need something to distract her from whatever she’s whining about…PICNIC!
I’m feeling guilty about having spent too much time on my computer that morning and not enough time paying attention to her…PICNIC!
There really is no bad time for a picnic.
Sure, packing a lunch and taking it to a park or the beach can be great. But some days you don’t want to leave the house because you’re too tired. Or maybe you have multiple children and between their different nap schedules, it seems downright impossible to leave.
That’s where the at-home, indoor picnic comes in to save the day. One bonus of a picnic that I have witnessed firsthand is that your child may even try new foods that he/she wouldn’t touch if he was in the high chair or sitting at a table.
In full disclosure, our picnic lunches are often set up in our living room in front of the TV with Peppa Pig or Moana playing for the five hundredth time for added entertainment. It’s the trifecta of my daughter’s dream lunch: Peppa jumping in muddy puddles, a tray full of snack foods, and being allowed to eat on the floor. I think this makes me a cool mom, at least for that hour.
Take your at-home picnic out in the yard if you wish, but personally, I like to avoid the bugs and the intense Southern summer heat. Nobody wants that. Now that fall is upon us though, I can see us moving outside for picnics more often. But for now, inside is where the party is at!
Picnics aren’t complicated and I would feel silly trying to over-explain what to do. You all know how to find a large blanket or towel, move your coffee table or whatever small furniture you need to and spread that blanket out. Exclaim to your children, “We’re having a picnic!”. While the cheering ensues, serve lunch on the floor, and bask in the glory of being a cool mom.
(Don’t mind the half eaten cheese stick.)
One of the best things about picnics is the food can be extra simple, basically a wide variety of snacks. And we all know how much kids love snacks.
The Best Picnic Foods
Here are my go-to picnic foods (for my two-and-a-half year old) that leave minimal mess/crumbs/spills:
- Peanut butter sandwiches (bonus if you serve it with a small cookie cutter, so your toddler can cut the sandwich into a fun shape, and therefore will be more likely to eat it!)
- Sliced fruit (strawberries, apples, grapes, bananas)
- Carrot sticks
- Cucumber slices
- Cheese sticks
- Pretzels or crackers
It is best to avoid foods that require utensils (think applesauce, yogurt, or spaghetti), as toddlers will inevitably make more of a mess than you signed up for. Also, ketchup is probably not a great idea. Yes, I’ve learned that from experience too.
A picnic is not a revolutionary idea. Regardless, it is a great tool that every parent needs to have in their toolbox.