The Best Methods, You’ve Never Heard of, to Occupy Toddlers During School

The Friday before Labor Day weekend; I’ve got the first day of school in my sights. I’m not running. I’m tackling it head on like the insecure, homeschooling pro that I am. (Just for good measure, Tony restocked my hard cider supplies so I’m set.)

One of the hardest things about homeschooling can be teaching older kids while still having toddlers running under foot. Some parents find it’s easier to enroll the youngest in a day care or preschool program so it’s easier to focus completely on fifth grade math, or whatever. But if sending your kids out isn’t an option, I’ve compiled of list of sure-fire tricks to ensure a smooth transition back to school without toddler distractions getting in the way.


1. If you have a couple little ones, or a toddler and a dog, now is a great time to teach them the game “Cage Match.” Simply employ a large dog kennel, lock them inside (with a few pillows if you so choose) and tell them they have until the bell to pin the other to the floor. It’s not necessary to own a bell.

Amazon Prime this bad boy up and have it in time for the first day.

2. A great way to pass the time quietly can be by locking the child in a dark hall closet with a flashlight and telling them to pretend to be either St. Joan of Arc or St. Thomas Moore, locked away in a cell, persecuted by the English. Throw in a few bread scraps and a jug of water for authenticity.

3. Or invest in a stuffed lion and send the child on a journey to Narnia! Just continue walking/ crawling towards the back of the “wardrobe” and keep looking Junior!

4. You can leave the closet door open if you first shackle the child’s legs with heavy chains. In this version, he or she can pretend to be St. Paul in prison. Give your little Church Father some crayons and paper and tell him to write the Epistles to pass the time.

See, Amazon’s got your back.

5. If your child enjoys magic, use those same shackles and perhaps some rope to tie him up like Harry Houdini. Make sure everything is good and snug and then tell him to escape, while you escape to the dining table to finish grammar.

6. Put on a cowboy hat, grab a lasso and chase your toddler down with lots of whoots and hollers before hog tying him. The goal is to sufficiently wear the child down so they are less able to wiggle free/ complain once bound on the floor.

7. Does your child enjoy Greek myths?  Slap a bull mask on your child and send them into your basement with the lights off. Tell them he or she is the Minotaur in the labyrinth waiting to attack the unsuspecting Theseus. A bonus to this method is when one of your older children talks back or refuses to do something, send them to the basement to “retrieve something” and enjoy the resulting melee.

Who cares whether they can see out the eye holes or not.

With these tried and true methods, you’re sure to coast back into a regular fall schedule in no time. What favorite trick of yours did I leave out?


  1. Brilliant! In your spare time, might I suggest developing a toddler safe scuba suit. This will allow us to keep the little darlings safely contained and greatly reduce background noise. Especially helpful during retoric recitations!

  2. I am going to buy a cage for my two toddlers. We could even sell tickets. We could buy curriculum and alcohol with all the money! Big win.

  3. Ha! My toddlers actually do play in the dog crate! When my twins were toddlers they loved to lock each other in there and pass toys to each other through the grates. I got a lot of math taught during those times.

  4. Glad I’m not the only one who cannot bear to start school in August. You’d think I would actually be ready for Monday by now, having had that two extra weeks to plan, but I never am and this year is no different. Good to have some ideas for keeping my youngest busy – super helpful, thanks! 😀

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