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Are you trying to parent while sick? On bed rest due to a complicated pregnancy? Recovering from surgery? Simply tired after waking every two hours to feed the baby? Unfortunately, the job of motherhood never stops, and your little sweeties still probably want you for a playmate during the day.
As I mentioned in my last post, I recently had surgery and am definitely not moving around much yet. My kids are soon to be home from Grandma’s house, and I want to be sure to get quality time with them while honoring my need to rest and recuperate. Here are some ideas we all can use to entertain our kids while sitting or lying down.
Ideas for Playing While Snuggling together
- Read to your children
- Ask your kids to read to you
- Watch a movie together
- Songs and fingerplays: you likely already have some songs you like to sing together, and fingerplays are just those little motions you do with your hands to songs like the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” if you need some inspiration, you’ll find some sing-along kid songs here and some fun fingerplays here.
- Make rainbows on the wall: here are instructions for the easiest method
- Make a collaborative drawing: make a mark or a shape on a paper. Invite your little one to add another mark. Continue taking turns until you’re both happy with the finished product.
- Have you kids build a fort with a comfy corner for you
- Make shadow puppets: This website has some great ideas for getting started.
- Make up a collaborative story: say one sentence to begin a story. Invite your kiddo to add another sentence. Take turns adding to the story until you’ve come up with an ending.
- Color some pictures together: coloring can be fun for Moms, too. If you don’t want to steal pages out of the kids coloring books, you might want to consider a book like this designed specifically for adults.
- Look at I Spy pictures: you and your little one might enjoy looking for objects hidden in a picture. Here are some free online ones. My kids and I also love the Usborne 1001 Things to Spot series of books.
- Do a word search: bigger kids might enjoy collaborating on a word search. You’ll find some online ones here.
- Play Mad Libs: these are a great way to practice parts of speech and kids think they’re hilarious. Here are some you can play online. Here is a best of collection in book form.
- Make paper airplanes: here you’ll find instructions for a very simple five-step one. (I’ve gotten in over my head from time to time trying to make really complicated ones with my boys.)
- Look through their baby books together: My kids love to look at old pictures of themselves and hear stories about their babyhood.
Ideas for Playing pretend
Your kids might love having immobile you as an actor in their pretend play. Here are some ideas:
- Let the kids play doctor with you as patient
- Let the kids play restaurant with you as customer
- Let the kids play school with you as student
- Let the kids play salon or spa with you as the customer
Ideas for playing a game together
There are tons of games you can play with your little ones, even when you aren’t mobile.
- Play a favorite board or card game.
- Toss a foam ball at a hoop or a crumpled piece of paper at a wastebasket.
- Have a staring contest:the winner is the person who goes the longest without blinking, looking away, or laughing.
- Play the Quiet Game. My kids are terrible at this one, but you might challenge them to be quiet for a very short period of time.
- Play I Spy
- Play 20 Questions
- Play Tic Tac Toe
- Play Hangman: this is a great one for beginning spellers
- Play Rock Paper Scissors: my five and seven-year-old love this game at the moment.
- Play verbal word games: you can get really creative with these. Have kids think of a word that rhymes with a given word, think of a word that’s the opposite or a given word, or think of a word that starts with each letter of the alphabet.
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Ideas for play that allows you to rest while the kids are active
These are some of my favorite ideas. My kids need lots of movement throughout the day and tend to have a hard time snuggling up with me for long, but these games are nice for staying connected while I sit.
- Send them on a scavenger hunt around the house. (You might send them to collect things you need, to collect props for a pretend game, to collect photos of obscure spots around the house—the possibilities are endless).
- Have them do a freeze dance with you controlling music. When you stop the song, they freeze.
- Play Red Light Green Light
- Play Simon Says
- Be the judge for a competition amongst siblings (high jump, dance contest, race, etc.)
- Direct them verbally on an obstacle course through the house. (You could ask them to crawl to the window, hop on one foot around the table, spin for ten seconds, etc.)
- Communicate with walkie-talkies while they roam the house. (You could send them on an expedition to grab something you need or ask them to do something silly like count the number of shirts in their closet.)
- Give them a treasure map to follow
Ideas for engaging, non-messy activities children can do alone
Many solo kids activities leave you with a mess afterwards or lots of questions to answer while they’re being completed. Here are some which might allow you to close your eyes for a minute without any extra work.
- Play with Colorforms: unlike stickers, these won’t remain stuck on anything important
- Color Wonder: We love these markers that only color on special paper.
- Sticky wall: I loved this activity when I had toddlers. I stuck a piece of contact paper sticky side out on the wall and then gave my little ones cut out pictures from magazines, feathers, pompoms, etc. for mess-free art.
- Water Wow Books: Melissa and Doug make these reuseable books that toddlers can color using only water.
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Ideas for special kid-created projects
My kids really respond well to requests to make or do something special for Mommy.
- Ask them to draw you a picture of something specific
- Ask them to build a particular thing out of Legos, Duplos, Blocks, or Magnatiles
- Make up a simple secret code and write messages to each other. You might, for instance, assign a number to each letter of the alphabet. My first grader loves this.
- Ask them to take photos of things around the house and make a movie. This one requires a bit of tech, but my kids love using the iMovie software on the iPad to do this.
- Ask kids to put on a play for you. Give the kids some characters to play and a situation, and see what they come up with
I hope this list gives you some ideas if you are having a day (or lots of days) where you can’t be as active a parent as you’d like. (And I hope you’re back to feeling better soon!) If you’ve got more tricks, share them with us in the comments!