Maybe it’s been a long week at work, or you were up with a teething baby every two hours. Or perhaps you’ve just felt tired since the moment you became a parent? We get it.
So, what clever and effective ways can you play with your kids while lying on the floor or couch? Behold: 14 of our favourite slacker parent activities to interact with the offspring when you just don’t want to get up.
1. What’s on my butt?
Get comfy on the couch, belly down. Your kids take turns finding things around the house and putting them on your behind. You ask, “What’s on my butt?” (feel free to add funny voices here) and then try to guess. Hil-ar-i-ous. More info: Innerchildfun.com
2. Sound safari
Show your school-age kid how to use the digital recorder on your phone, then ask them to go around the house or yard recording 10 different sounds. Emphasize that they should take their time and try to stump you. (Variation: very close-up shots with the camera.) Then get them to return to the sound booth, aka the couch, and you try to figure out what the sounds are. Pro tip: To keep your phone out of the toilet, ban “flushing” sounds.
3. Watch Clouds
No, there are no clouds on the living room ceiling, but this is an imagination game. Lie down with your kiddo and whisper, “Wow, look at the beautiful clouds.” You can take turns pointing out what you “see” and pretty soon, creative kids will be spotting elephants and waterslides. More info: Lay Down Daddy Games by Jim Manduca
Get a kitchen colander or two, a decent flashlight and some of your household’s thousands of little toys. Dinosaurs and horses are good. Lie down in a dark room and shine the flashlight through the colander onto the ceiling. Instant starry night! You can also shine the flashlight behind the toys to project shadows onto the ceiling and walls.
5. Don’t wake the giant
Since you’ve got those little plastic toys out…lie down and ask your kids to arrange the toys on your back or belly. Urge them to use their imaginations to set up scenes like a village, the African savannah or a parking lot. But wait—they’ve actually set up everything on a sleeping giant! Stretch, scratch, shake, or maybe even stand up.
6. Art session
Tell your older, artsy kid it’s time to practice life drawing. Chill out on the couch or hammock and ask them to pay close attention to the folds on your shirt and your messy hair. Increase the difficulty factor by adding a book for you to read or a sleep mask. More info: Theuglyvolvo.com
7. Roll around
Little-known fact: rolling around on the floor is a great way for your preschooler or kindergartener to fine-tune all kinds of developmental skills related to balance, coordination and strength. How awesome that you get to lie on the couch to get the best view of their game. Ask if they can roll straight like a pencil (little kids tend to move their top half first then their legs) or roll in both directions. Ask them to put their arms above their heads and hold on to a stuffed toy while they roll (this requires more strength and coordination). More than one kid? Get them to form a “conveyor belt” with coordinated rolling to move a toy along from one kid to another. More info: Movingsmartblog.com
8. Search and find
Lie down somewhere comfortable. Say “I want you to find something that’s square,” or “something with a bell,” or “something that is red.” Repeat. Variation: give them a list with little drawings or words of what to find. Then, of course, they have to put everything back exactly where they found it.
9. Race track
Lie on the floor with one knee up and maybe an arm outstretched. Get your kid to set up their train track or car track all around you. You’re the landscape! More info: Laydowndaddygames.com
10. Operation time
Introduce the kids to the retro game, with you as the patient. Get the kitchen tongs and some small objects, which you arrange on your belly or legs. Hand your toddler or preschooler the tongs and ask them to carefully pick up each item. Older kids can use tweezers. Add sound effects, of course. (Bonus: using tongs and tweezers is a good way to develop small muscles in their hands. It’s educational!) More info: Mamaot.com and Therapystreetforkids.com.
Remind your dinosaur-obsessed kid how scientists very, very gently use brushes and small tools to remove dirt from fossils. Then ask them to practice, with you pretending to be a Couchasaurus. More info: Theuglyvolvo.com
12. Floor jail
You lie down. They put pillows and blankets around you to keep you in. Occasionally holler “busting out!” so they have to do repairs.
13. We’re with the band
Put on some good tunes. Lie on your side: you’re the guitar. Lie on your front: the piano. And if you’re brave, your belly can be the drums.
14. Tattoo artist
Explain that tattoo artists work very slowly and carefully. Then break out the washable, non-toxic markers (some pencil crayons work when dipped in water too) and get yourself a temporary tat.