It seems a lot of us operate in a general state of tiredness. But sometimes, that tiredness reaches epic proportions and the thought of gallivanting around town with your energetic offspring is more than you can bear. In my experience, those days hit at the least opportune times, and often when I’ve already taxed my resources. Enter these fun, at-home activities that should rid your kids of boredom and allow you to enjoy at least one hot cup of coffee.
If your kids are like mine, then you’ve seen a LOT of 3-marker challenges on YouTube. (Like, a serious lot.) The concept is really simple: the participants blindly choose 3 markers with which to color an identical coloring page, and then the “audience” votes on a winner.
To make this more fun than it sounds, here a couple of my favorite tricks (and if you guessed that I have experience, you’d be correct):
- You probably don’t have identical coloring books at home, but if you have a printer you can easily solve this problem. We search for a topic followed by “coloring page” in Google, e.g., “Grinch Coloring Page,” the kids choose their favorite, and then we print copies. They’re pumped to have something new to color and I’m pumped that I didn’t have to leave the house.
- PRO TIP: Our printer is on WiFi, so once the picture is chosen, my son hits print on my phone and excitedly runs to the office to get the images. I don’t even leave the kitchen counter.
- If you have 1 kiddo and don’t feel like playing yourself, this is a great activity to do during a playdate or, better yet, with your partner. The kids absolutely love it when a grown-up plays!
- Depending on your kids’ ages, you can time this activity or not. A lot of the “official” (is that even a thing?) challenges are timed, but my kids, who are 6 and 4, prefer not to be timed.
- Lastly, if you’re active on social media, you can record the challenge or take photos of the final products and submit them for a vote among your followers. Also a hit with the kids.
Painter’s tape obstacle course
OK, this one DOES take a little bit of prep work, but it can buy you a nice long rest on the couch so I’d say that’s worth it. This is also an awesome way to burn energy when the kids have been cooped up inside or are just generally amped up.
Grab some painter’s tape (add it to your shopping list if you don’t have some already!). Start placing the tape down the hall, over a pile of pillows, on top of a chair, under a table, and anywhere else kids can safely run, walk, crawl, or climb. Be sure the tape forms a loop so that there’s no specific starting or ending point.
[Obviously safety is really important here. Only place tape where you feel your kids can easily and safely go without risk of injury. This requires you to gauge their age, physical abilities, and control of their bodies. I also make my kids remove their socks.]
Once your tape “obstacle course” is set, choose a spot along the track to park yourself. Hopefully you’ll be here a while, so choose somewhere comfy. Then, get out a timer (we use our phones) and start timing each kid as he or she runs the course! Depending on your set-up, multiple people can run the course at once, or you can run one person at a time. Chances are good they’ll want to run the course over and over again to see if they can improve their own times or beat another player.
When that gets old, you can “convert” the obstacle course to a race course for cars, a walking path for toy strollers, a playground for stuffed animals or toy figures, or city streets for superheroes to protect. You don’t need to do anything further than offer these suggestions to your kiddos and have them grab the right toys.
Dance parties are another excellent way to burn energy. I typically like to join in on the dance parties, but you can also “play” while reserving some of your energy.
I always let the kids choose the music, because the dance party is inevitably more successful when they do. They often choose playlists from Alexa (“Kids Christmas” and “Kids Pop Hits” are two faves), or you can find a lot of kid-friendly dance lists on YouTube.
Once the music is chosen, lay the ground rules. Our rules are pretty simple: listen for mama’s dance commands and look out for the other dancers.
Then, jack up the volume and start rocking. As they dance, I call out actions like, “Dab!” “Freeze!” “Hop on one foot!” “Floss!” “Downward dog!” (that one always confuses them and makes them giggle). You get the idea. You can totally have fun with it, engage with your kids, and laugh a lot, all while resting.
We don’t have “winners” at our dance parties – the kids just like wiggling around and find it funny when they miss commands. If your kiddos are more competitive, or you want to promote good listening skills, you could also track how well each kid followed the commands and reward good listening. In this game, a positive reward could easily be the opportunity to choose the next song!
It can be really hard to feel like you’re doing your best as a mom any day, but even more so on those days when your brain or body is lacking energy. Hopefully these activities will allow you a little time to restore yourself while also engaging with your kiddos.
If you have additional suggestions for at-home activities, I’d love for you to comment below!