Sunday, 8 June 2014

Lazy Mom Tricks for Leave-Behind Play

Sometimes making leave-behind play trays for my daughter gets too high-maintenance.  I'm an ideas person, so if I'm not excited about a leave-behind play tray idea then I get too lazy to make anything.  Sometimes laziness takes over and her trays remain finished for days before I replace them.

I've discovered these four tricks when ideas don't come.  Or when things get too crazy for more thoughtful play.


1. Jigsaw Puzzles.  They seem like a good idea to buy at first, but the reality is they're never something Ladybug Girl reaches for voluntarily.  Turn these one-hit wonders into daily play with super simple invitations like these.

Match mommy to animal baby name

Test the learning by sorting into two piles

Leave out the pieces dumped in a tray with a picture guide to follow

2.  Puzzle Game Sets.  You know those toys where you can get a succession of play levels to pull out and play over and over?  Never happens.  So these play trays are mainstays on our shelves.  The idea is you keep advancing the progress one day at a time.

My sister gave this castle puzzle for Ladybug Girl's first birthday.  I brought it out when she turned three - and it's been out on our shelves for two years and counting!  She's now at "Expert" levels.
Magnetic tangram puzzles from Hobbes and Landes.  Ladybug Girl drew all over the original prints when she was two, so I spray painted the pieces yellow to reuse them.  It's also more challenging to match shapes that way.

A Mighty Mind puzzle a day is the easiest tray I've put out.

3. Art Sets.  I'm a sucker for these because they make things so easy... to throw away after.  That's my way of dealing with clutter.  Snap a photo and throw out!  I don't feel guilty because these art sets are meant to be consumed, not kept.  

I couldn't tell you where I bought these anymore, these were so random.
They're not that cheap (200 pesos and up) but are great at fine motor practice.

I flipped these wooden animals so that she could paint the back the next day -- extended play for the sets!

4.  Activity Books.  Rip 'em up page by page.  Do it!  It's liberating.  And it'll actually get used instead of rotting unfinished.

The ever-popular sticker activity book gets ripped and prepared this way

My favourite toddler workbooks are still super useful as regular play for my little lefty

Taro Gomi doodle book placemats are a daily art invitation.  Just leave out different art materials to keep things fresh

Creative play can be pretty low maintenance, see.  Lazy-mom tested!

post signature
I love discovering ways that makes creating play easy during the workday for working mommas like me, so I share them on this blog as a "leave-behind-play" series.  The gallery on the upper right side of the blog has all the links all organised and visual for you to choose.  


  1. brilliant idea! :)i should try this to my little girl.. school starts june 18 pa and i can hardly uproot her from the tv... haiz.. :(

    1. Relate!! Hahaha! These are good for that too!

  2. Hello, I have a question. What is "leave-behind play"?

    1. Hi Angel, thanks for wandering over here. "Leave-Behind Play" is play that a child can do by himself. Usually I leave play trays for my daughter to do at home with her nanny while I'm at work. Here's how I started and why I found it helpful : :) You can check the galleries link in the upper right of the blog for a visual reference of some the leave-behind play we do!

  3. Laurice Tuason8/22/2014 2:06 pm

    HI! Your blog is amazing. I'm a working mom too! Could you please recommend the school of your daughter? I would like to inquire there too for my son. Thanks a lot!

    1. Hi Laurice, thanks so much for your generous words! Do you mind emailing me at I won't reveal it here for privacy reasons. I'd be happy to give an honest review of the school.


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