Oh I know exactly what you mean!!
I find that James is occupied much longer when outside, but of course you have to be happy for them to get dirtly, cos if there's any dirt around they will find it. So dirt, sticks, and rocks are all pretty interestin things.
If you live near a beach, they will play in the sand for ages.
Again I find the attraction at playgrounds is also sand rather than anything else.
Give your tot a hose (if the weather in your area is suitable).
And for quieter times inside we read a book for a bit, or play with blocks & other toys. I find that if you put a toy away for a few days then bring it our again it helps with the interest factor.
Tickling & Chasing is pretty good too, but you may need to settle them down a bit after a while.
On warmer days you can go to the pool for an hour or two.
Check out if your local library does storytimes, theyre free and it doesn't matter if the kid mainly roams around and mingles with both kids their own age and older too. It's the songs in between the stories that generally get their interest!
There are also bound to be playgroups around the place (and generally don't cost a great deal to attend)
And for a bit of fresh air and relaxation (specially if your day is starting to get on top of you) there is nothing more refreshing than a walk with the stroller or one of those back packs if you have one.
Hope some of these ideas help...
I thinks I've surprised myself with the variety of things we actually have available here, although things may feel monotonous to you, they probably don't to bubs, and they probably look forward to doing the simplest things every day!
Kristina, Mum of James 3yrs & Matilda 14 months