Every parent knows what it is to be tired. Okay, tired is an understatement; I mean worn-out, exhausted, drowsy, wearied, dog-tired, spent and drained. Some days all you can think of is sleep. And being miserable on the couch is the highest reachable achievement for that day. But having a toddler or preschooler around kind of makes that impossible. And those days we must be brave and survive. Even though your day will be long and hard, here are a few ‘games’ that will make it easier to have some sort of rest during the day, without a TV or iPad being involved (you can always turn one on later😉).
My daughter loves playing doctor and I love laying down. Make sure you always play a patient who has a broken leg or is very tired and cannot stand up. If you are lucky, the doctor will bring you a blanket and will give you (fake) sips of water.
Give your toddler a baby comb, a lot of hair accessories, a mirror and something to spray in your hair and let your free head massage begin. Hopefully the hairdresser’s shop has a few good reads for their clients as well.
Reenacting a fairytale
For all the fairytale princesses, playing Cinderella is a great game. And for all the lazy or tired parents, playing the evil lazy stepsisters is even better. Playing the wolf from Little Red Riding Hood also puts you in the position of laying down. Best of all, play Sleeping Beauty and sleep for 100 years. I love fairytales!
Playing an audio book (you can find great ones on Spotify!) will make your older toddler play quietly and will give you time to lay on the couch. You can use the story as a time for your toddler to learn how to play alone. If you subscribe to my newsletter, you will learn how to let them play alone:
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Let them play with something they normally aren’t allowed to play with
Playing with a role of tape, toilet paper, or your parents’ set of monopoly is fascinating for toddlers. They will be delighted to finally play with the ‘forbidden fruit’. Just make sure it’s not that big of a deal if they damage whatever it is you let them play with (a family heirloom is a bad idea). Also, be sure to tell them it’s a one-time opportunity – that they won’t be allowed to play with whatever it is on a regular basis and they must be very careful with it. This will only make things more interesting and hopefully prevent future tantrums! When all the precaution measures are taken, you’re up for at least 15 minutes of uninterrupted coma on the couch.
Open a cabinet/box/closet that is normally closed (for younger toddlers)
Opening your kitchen cabinet will draw young toddlers like a moth to a flame. Letting them play with your Tupperware or plastic baking tools will keep them feeling occupied for a while.
Okay, this definitely doesn’t work for all kids, but my sister does this with her toddler son all the time. They read all the stories they can find together and my sister can stay on the couch for at least half an hour. My daughters are done after one book, especially the youngest. But, each minute on the couch is precious, so try it.
A favorite activity in case I need a break (permanently ;-)) is an easy artsy one. Give your toddler a paper and toddler-approved markers, put them in a high chair and let them do their thing. Make sure they have on clothes that are art-project proof and put away anything valuable, because there will be marker on everything near your toddler. But toddler markers are so easy to wipe away, so this doesn’t have to be a problem.
Another favorite high chair activity is Play-Doh. Just open the lid and watch them be entertained for hours! Just kidding, there’s no way your toddler will be entertained by one game for hours. But, a few minutes is certainly possible!
Shaving cream in the shower (+ bonus bathing time)
Sitting on the toilet next to the bath and reading a magazine, while my children go crazy in the shower with shaving cream I just sprayed on the shower walls, is one of my favorite mom activities. Meanwhile, I let the bathwater run and, when they are done with the shaving cream, I get an extra 20 minutes of reading time because they are now entertained by the best entertainer of them all: water!
Those are a few of my best tips for maximum parent rest without gluing your toddler to the TV. If you have any tired-parent-tips on how to entertain your toddler without much work, please share them. And if you are completely drained, a bit of screen time won’t hurt either. Anything to stay sane!