Toddlers And Games You Can Play With Them Even If You're Tired

Here are several games an exhausted parent can play with their toddler or preschooler without expending much energy.

You know how it feels to be dog-tired, and with an entire evening of cooking, cleaning, bathing and tending children ahead of you. How do you cope? It can be very difficult and challenging, especially when you have energetic toddlers. I have had my share of these days, and with three children four and under it was all I could do to lie on the floor and let them crawl on me. Over the years I've come up with several games I can play with my children, which makes them quite happy, and is very low-energy for me. Keep these in mind the next time you're ready to drop dead on the floor with kids clamoring for attention. (They're quite fun anytime, for that matter.)

I. SITTING GAMES

FIND THE BINKY. We use a pacifier, but any small favorite toy will do. Have your child put his face down on the floor for a few seconds while you toss the toy, aiming for a particular place, such as under the rocking chair. Then the child gets up and you give him clues, or, if he is very young, tell him where to look. "The binky is UNDER the rocking chair." This gives your toddler practice in following directions and learning the concepts of on and under, behind and in front, and in and out.

SING SILLY SONGS. There are so many great songs and your toddler will have fun doing the motions. Try "Itsy Bitsy Spider," "I Found a Little Baby Bumble Bee," "Found a Peanut," "I'm a Little Tea Pot," and "Ring Around the Rosy."

READ OR TELL A STORY. This doesn't take much energy. If you're bored stiff with the same stories over and over, try varying them by using funny accents or sound effects, or inserting a wrong word in the story and watch the reactions of your children. We laughed and laughed today as I kept inserting the word "giraffe" in one of their favorite stories. My husband once surprised the girls after reading about some sweet little birds, when he suddenly cried a raucous "CAW CAW!" That cracked us up the entire day.

COME HERE. Instead of chasing and capturing your kids, try this sit-down version. You try to coax them to come to you so you can catch or tag them. I crook my finger, look mischievous and say "Come here"¦" The kids enjoy trying to get as close as they can without getting caught.

HUMAN SLIDE. If you have long legs, you can put them together and let your toddlers slide down! They'll climb and slide on you over and over. All you have to do is sit there and enjoy.



MOTORCYLCE & RABBIT HOLE. When I'm resting with my feet up, I'll cross my ankles and my daughter climbs up on my legs, pretends she's on a motorcycle and "drives" my toes! It's quite funny, and I can actually read a book while she's climbing on and off "driving" places. Sometimes my daughter has me uncross my ankles, and she climbs down through my legs to the floor into her "rabbit hole." One suggestion: put a pillow under your heels first!

TOUCH MY FACE. For this your child will sit in your lap. You close your eyes, and your child slowly reaches up and tries to touch you somewhere on your face. As soon as you feel his finger, try to gobble it up! So far I've never succeeded!

II. LYING DOWN GAMES

WORM RIDE. This takes a little energy. You lie down on your stomach, and the kids sit on you. Then, using your elbows, you do an army crawl across the floor while they try to stay on. The ride is quite rocky and challenging for them, and they love tumbling off.

OH NO! My kids cannot resist this one. It takes the least amount of energy. All I do is lie down on my stomach and start moaning "Oh, I HOPE no one comes and sits on me! Oh, no one better jump on me [or stand or balance or dance or lie down on me, etc.]." Of course they all come running as fast as they can and pounce on me, which usually makes me laugh real hard. Then I cry out "Oh no, what will I do, what will I do, what a world, what a world, ahhhh!" and pretend to sob, which makes everyone laugh even more.

BE A ROCK. Facing down, curl up on your knees and relax. The kids love climbing on and off, jumping off of you, sliding over you, standing up and balancing, etc.

RACE CAR. Lie on your back with your knees up. The child first pretends to put a coin in your "slot," which is your hand, then she presses your thumb down onto your fist. Then she can sit down, her back against your knees. Now both your hands become the steering wheel: I usually put my fists together with both thumbs up for the driver to grab onto. Then take off! You bump and rock your torso over the road, lean right and left for racing around curves (don't forget the sound effects!), push the child back for accelerating and pull her forward for braking. At the end, of course, you both crash!

SANDWICH. Let your child build a sandwich out of you! First lay down a pillow; that is the bread. Then you lie on top of it""you are the meat. Then let your toddler pile up pillows, blankets and toys on top of you for the pickles, lettuce, tomato, cheese, etc., and lastly a pillow matching the bottom one for the other slice of bread. Now he eats you up! (Don't forget to cry out "No, no, don't eat me!!") He'll want a turn being the sandwich next, and be sure to "eat" him right where it tickles!

CLEAN UP GAME. This one is a bonus; you can do it sitting or lying. Observe what needs to be put away. Then say: "I see something red which needs to be put away. Can you find it?" or "Quick, find all the red things and put them away! Hurry!" You can go through all of the colors, and by then the room is picked up!

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