Kids on the Hunt

I’m not one of those moms who travels for work, takes frequent “girl trips,” or even schedules overnight getaways with my husband. That all sounds pretty nice, actually, but it’s not our reality right now. So, as I prepared for a rare three-day-long trip to see my favorite nephew graduate, I was all atwitter with excitement and nerves about saying goodbye to my little ones for only the second time in their whole lives.

In total honesty, though, I was a little more nervous about leaving their dad alone with those hooligans for all that time. He’s super-involved in parenting, but it’s still tough if you don’t have someone to “tag you out” and give you a break. (Shout-out to all the single mommas here!)

Treasure HuntMy solution was to keep ’em good and busy, so they wouldn’t have as much time to whine, miss Mom, or generally drive Dad crazy. Inspired by a friend who happens to also be a wise grandmother of toddlers, I put together a daily scavenger hunt for my little ladies.

Even though they’re only three and two, it was successful, and, I think, as much fun for me as it was for them. As they get older and able to comprehend more, I could see expanding this for holidays or just rainy days.


Here are a few tips to make it work for you:

Keep it age-appropriate.
Each day, I gave them three clues to find a special surprise. These were easy clues, and, for the most part, they were able to figure out what I was hinting at.

For instance,

  • Go to the room where we keep our food.
  • Find the coldest spot.
  • Look inside, and you’ll see something you’ll like a lot.

Treasure Hunt surpriseWe kept it seriously simple!

This is the area where I could see a ton of potential for expanding as they get older or making the clues more specific to particular holidays or celebrations.

My friend who gave me the original idea set up a scavenger hunt at Easter for her grandchildren with all types of clues combined with hunting eggs. Brilliant!

Don’t break the bank.
Since I had three days’ worth of activities, I couldn’t go crazy with a bunch of new toys. I also wanted to make sure the surprise was something that would keep them occupied. So they got new books (some via the library), sidewalk chalk and bubbles, and a DVD (by far the most expensive).

Clue in your partner.
You don’t want Dad or Grams scratching his or her head over your clues if you haven’t made the hints as clear as you think. Give them a “leader’s guide,” and let them ad lib as needed. (Tell them to take plenty of pictures, too–a note I forgot to leave this time.)

This one is from my husband. A couple of the clues didn’t go as planned because . . . well, we have a two and a three year old. But the point was for them to have fun and stay busy, not to get everything exactly right.

And that’s a lesson I’ll carry through to the next time I plan the hunt–no matter how old they are!

Tiffany is an Alabama expat who has been married to Jason since 2005 and has called Fort Worth home since 2007. They welcomed Catherine in 2012 and Nina in 2013. Tiffany recently retired after 10 years of librarian life to focus full-time on doctoral work at the University of North Texas and part-time on health and fitness coaching. In her spare (ha!) time, she enjoys blogging at, tweeting (@mrsmcbookworm), podcasting (, watching sports (Roll Tide!), and walking with Fred, their Bichon Frise. You will rarely find her without a cup of coffee, and she is a big believer in the one-minute dance party.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here