Activities That Help My Kids Stay Calm – On a Budget

Hello! As I mentioned in my last post, my 6-year old was deeply impacted after witnessing his father’s seizure. I tried to help him by talking to him and arranging counselling for him at school, but he still had frequent meltdowns that lasted 30 to 60 minutes.

After doing some research about this on Google, and talking to his teachers, I got the following products from Walmart, Amazon or Dollarama, to help him stay calm. While none of these work for my kid, DURING a meltdown, they collectively have reduced the frequency of meltdowns.

Since these are all activities that help him create something, while focussing his attention on whatever he is doing at that moment, they help promote mindfulness in my kid and, consequently, often prevent extreme reactions to everyday situations. Please note that, in my opinion, these are not, in any way, a substitute for professional help or treatments, especially if a child has undergone trauma. However, on a day-to-day basis, under common/typical circumstances, the following activities have helped my kids stay occupied, calm and away from the screen for long intervals.

  1. Slime I detested slime for the longest time, as it seemed so messy and disgusting to touch. However, when I finally got it last year, I was instantly impressed by how it kept kids busy for a long time, while also helping to relieve my stress. The different colours it’s available in, make it pleasing to look at, and it comes with different sets and options to spark the kids’ creativity. If you would not like to get the sets, just get small-sized individual packs and get a little glitter or beads from the dollar store, and let your kids use their imagination in decorating it. My only advice – keep it away from toddlers as they may get tempted to taste the ”jelly”, keep it away from carpets and keep it away from devices as it is super hard to clean off certain surfaces. (Trust me, I know!) I usually restrict all these activities to the dining table or an activity table, so the mess is contained to a single, easy-to-clean area.
  2. Kinetic Sand – I avoided kinetic sand, for as long as I could, for the same reasons as slime, and I’m now in love with it for the exact same reasons why I started liking slime. My kids love making castles with sand. If you would not like to buy some of the expensive sets and moulds for it, you can easily give them safe household items like plastic or steel bowls, cups or spoons to make their own designs, or get beach toys from the dollar store. My advice is the same as the advice I gave for slime.
  3. Lego / Mega Bloks – My kids love building. They can spend hours with Lego and blocks, making creations that never fail to surprise me. My 5-year old builds portals and space stations and rocket-ships using Lego, while my 2-year old keeps stacking her Mega Bloks or Lego Duplo to make towers taller than her. This activity is also better done on a table to contain the mess, although my 2-year old never really sticks to the plan.
  4. Play-doh – This is an all-time favourite in my house. Kids and I make all kinds of shapes and figures with the dough and love it. We usually get individual packs from Walmart or Dollarama and use moulds we already have lying around the house. The only problem with this is that you need to pick it up and put it back in the jar as soon as the kids are done, because this stuff dries FAST. For those of you that find it a little hard to use, there are also softer versions of playing dough available in the market that are easier to work with. When we don’t have it at home, sometimes, my son also loves playing with some of the dough I make at home while cooking. We add food colouring to it to make it a bit more fun.
  5. Bubbles – I love bubbles. I loved them when I was a kid, and my kids love it too. We get bubble guns from Dollarama and play with them together. I blow the bubbles, my kids run around bursting them, and everyone is happy. I find that it is the perfect activity for days when I am too tired to match their energy. I just sit at one place blowing the bubbles, and they can run around or a while.

PS: Apart from bubbles, I use caution while getting the other things from dollar stores, especially dough and slime, as my experience with those has been inconsistent. Sometimes, they turn out dry or hard which kind of spoils the experience.

Let me know what activities help your kids stay calm or if your kids have frequent meltdowns, too, and how you deal with them.

©️Pebble in the Ocean 2022

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