6 Games to play when you don’t want to play any more

It’s been a long day – you have been Spiderman and a princess and the mum and the dad and a pirate; you have done puzzles and coloured in and made a hungry caterpillar with egg cartons and now you just want a quiet cuppa, uninterrupted.

You don’t have to be an all dancing, all singing entertainer every moment of the day. Your child is blessed with a wonderful imagination. He will survive without you being his best playmate, at least long enough for you to have that quiet cuppa. But try telling that to a bright, active child who is home alone with you.

If you are all played out, but your child isn’t, and you don’t want to resort to TV, it’s OK to cheat. If you are feeling desperately in need of some time out (for yourself, you cant lock your kids in a cupboard) , try these:

Hide and seek

Boil the kettle, then tell your kid, “let’s play hide and seek. You can hide and I’ll come and find you – I’ll count to 100. Then Ill come and find you.”  Sit down with your lovely hot cuppa and count – very loudly and slowly. Comment, “I wonder where he is hiding?
I bet he’s found a very secret hiding place! I can’t see him anywhere!”

Paint the fence

Set your little pocket rocket up with a shallow bucket of water and a large paintbrush (the kind you paint houses with). Sit back and watch him paint the fence or the verandah while you enjoy your cuppa – while it’s hot!

 Tattoo time

You don’t want a cuppa but your eyes are almost closing, you are so damn tired. You want to lie down. Grab some markers (washable – hide the black sharpie), roll up your trousers, lie back on a towel or old rug (even washable markers can stain a good couch) and let your kid draw on your legs. You will probably have to wear tights or jeans for a few days until the colour completely washes off – unless you are so exhausted you don’t give a crap who sees your rainbow legs.

Massage mummy

Your fantasy includes a luxurious massage at a day spa but it’s not happening any time this afternoon. If you have given your little one massages since he was a baby, now it’s payback time. Pour a little safe vegetable oil into a saucer (a whole bottle of oil would probably buy you time to have a 2 hour nap but you might not feel so relaxed when you wake up to the glory of your tot’s ‘adventure’). Lie on a towel on the floor with your top off. Let the little person massage your back. He will have a great time ‘making you shiny’  while you get to relax (pretty much), and at least you will know exactly where he is. If you feel guilty about ‘slacking off’, remind yourself what a brilliant sensory experience you are providing.

Dead fish

This game is great if you have more than one child . Get yourself a drink before you start – you will need to supervise but it’s pretty simple. Get the kids to lie on the floor and be ‘dead fish’. They have to lie very still – the one who keeps still the longest is the winner! You can play it over and over so each one gets a turn at winning.

 Bubble bath

No you can’t leave your child alone in the bathroom but you can take your cuppa and drink it while your little one plays with cups and sponges and bubbles. Or you can have a bubble bath together.  Often a good splash and some bubble play will help you both to relax. Your child’s emotional tank will be filled so he will be less ‘demanding’ and you can dress  him (and you) in your pyjamas afterwards. Then you won’t have to face the evening bath routine when you are both exhausted.

For more fun ways to make magic from mayhem,  check out Pinky’s book ‘Toddler Tactics’ and her ‘Toddler Tactics’ seminars.

bored toddlerexhausted motherPinky McKaytoddler gamestoddler playToddler Tactics
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  • Margaret

    These are adorable. I wish I had known them 20 years ago. Especially love the dead fish one. And the Hide and seek. Great great great ideas

  • Pam

    I combined the Painting the Fence & Bubble bath idea yesterday, it kept my 21month old happy for an hour!! I’ll definitely do Tattoo time when she’s a bit older! Thank you for the fab ideas xx

  • Joanna Martin

    Oh Pinky- can you read my mind?!
    I’ll be trying these out soon!

  • Eve

    I like these ideas. I accidentally discovered a new one (invented by my nearly three year old daughter) the other day – A game called “sleeping bats”. Mummy pretends to be a sleeping bat (closes eyes and pretends to be asleep) and remains “asleep” until toddler yells “wake up bat”. I didn’t get to drink a cup of tea but I was so tired that I managed to have a number of micro-naps while pretending to be a sleeping bat.

    • Jojomama

      I pretend to go ‘Nigh-nighs’ with my 2 year old boy and I have told him I’ll only wake up for lovely kisses. I don’t budge for anything except a lovely kiss on the cheek. I’m slowly up-ing the number of kisses it takes to wake this princess and he’s learning to count while I get to shut my eyes. The kisses are pretty nice too.

  • Chewie

    I use to always have a tub of water/ice in the freezer that had different toys frozen in the ice. I would give him a little kids hammer and screw driver and get him to chizzle them out. Great during summer and allows plenty of time for a cuppa and if you’re lucky a biscuit or two lol

    • Pinky McKay

      Love the dead bats! Enjoy the bat naps!

      • Pinky McKay

        The ice game is fantastic! What a wonderful idea for hot days.

    • Sarah

      This is bloody genius!!! Thank you!

  • Mandy

    Great ideas!
    My favourite too-tired-to-play game is zoo keeper. Ella runs back and forth from our hallway to where I’m sitting on the couch pretending to be every kind of animal I ( the zoo keeper) need to feed. She uses a lot of energy doing all that running and we laugh a whole lot as she pretends to be the animals. The game continues until I can’t think of anymore animals, by which time, I’ve had a hot drink and rested.

    • Claire

      I have done sonething similar asking my daughter to go find certain objects and bring them to me. I end up with a pile but I get a bit of sit time.

  • Vicki

    We like to play hair salon (mummy is the customer) or hospitals (mummy is the sick bedridden patient) when I am very tired!

  • Jessica Mays

    I love these! I also love the music stop and go game. All you have to do is sit with the music and push “play” and “pause” while they get their energy out with the music and also have a game to play )can you freeze when the music stops?) 🙂

  • Abbi

    Great idea’s… Going to try the paint the fence one.
    When I need a break, I always play simon says with my 4 yr old daughter. Example: sit on something green, slide on something pink, touch something made of wood etc etc

  • Liz P

    Don’t forget to go outside!!!

  • Bindi

    I clicked on this link hoping to get a copy of the healthy muffin recipe, where can I find it?

  • Annaliese

    One of my all-time favourite things to do as a child was to get a bucket of water, one of Dad’s paint brushes and ‘paint’ our wooden tree house… thanks for reminding me! 🙂

  • Tricia the Good Mama

    This is great! I often read books to my son. I read the books that I know by heart. I can close my eyes and turn the pages and still keep reciting the words.

  • Danni

    What great ideas.I have used the tattoo and bath ideas a number of times. Also stickers are good. I have been stickered from head to toe a few times.
    Or fill a clam shell pool with warm water and bubble bath and you’ve got pool time and bath time out of the way

  • Cassie

    My daughter has a set of size 3 medical scrubs with her name embroidered (she likes to copy her mummy). We take turns being “sick” and nursing each other. I especially love when I can lay down and pretend to be sick as she checks my pulse and listens to me with a toy stethoscope and makes me pretend cups of tea and toast to make me better. Anything to be horizontal for a few minutes!

  • Jenn @ The Art of Better

    Wow; these are fantastic ideas! I’m pinning this to my kids board for sure. Thanks for sharing.

  • Melissa Williams-King

    I play hide and seek and all my hiding places are beds/couches so I get to have a few minute lie down each turn!

  • Jule

    I have my Grandbabies, paint the boards of the verandah using plain water and a small brush keeps them entertains for a very long time .

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