9 ‘lay down and play’ activities for tired mums and busy kids

tired mum tips

Attention tired mums – we have solved the mystery of how to keep your kids entertained even when you are entering mombie (that’s mum zombie) territory. Welcome to our round-up of the very best activities to play with your little ones even when you’re dead tired.

Whether it’s a busy day at work or a second pregnancy that’s zapping your mojo, these nine kid-tested, tired-parent-approved activities will let tired mums “lay and play” at the same time. Winning!

1. Call the doctor!

young child playing doctor with mum fun indoor games for tired mums

You’re sick. And super sleepy. But it’s okay, because the doctor is here! Simply curl up in the bed and let your toddler take your temperature, give you medicine, check your heart rate, offer you a hot towel and perhaps even rub your feet (because foot rubs make all illnesses go away).

2. Let’s go to the salon

Spark their imagination with a trip to the salon where they get to be the hair stylist (be sure to hide the real scissors beforehand!), manicurist and makeup artist. And you get to sit in a chair (or, even better, lie on the bed) with your eyes closed while they brush your hair, paint your nails (with water) and do your makeup.

3. Tattoo time

temporary tattooes pregnant woman

Also known as “draw all over mummy’s body” while she relaxes on the couch. Go the whole hog with temporary tattoos from Tattly if you have older kids. Decorating mummy with stickers also works well for the toddler set.

4. Go off roading

fun games for tired mums

Building ramps, making roads and driving toy cars in dirt is great fun! But it’s also messy. Enter the car road t-shirt ($13), which allows you to lie on your floor while your child drives cars all over your back. Not only does it keep your little one busy, but tired mums also get a bonus back massage out of it.

5. Take a camping trip

The best part about camping? Sleeping in a tent of course! Set up a blanket fort or teepee (like the Mocka teepee above, $99.95), place plenty of comfortable pillows on the floor and give your little one a torch to really set the mood.

fun indoor games for tired mums

You can even get extra fancy by making an indoor fire with brown card, orange and yellow crepe paper and cotton balls for marshmallows. Let your little one be in charge of manning the campground and roasting the marshmallows while you curl up in the tent for a mid-day kip. Camping is exhausting, after all.

6. Hunt for sleeping lions

fun games for tired mums

A childhood favourite, sleeping lions involves everyone lying on the floor in a sleeping position. The object of the game is to be as still as can be while one child (the hunter) tries to wake the lions with jokes, funny stories and so on. While normally played with a group of kids, you can adapt sleeping lions into a two person game. Let your little one be the hunter while you take on the role of the sleeping lion. Three guesses who will win …

7. Don’t wake the pirate

fun indoor games for tired mums

Here’s a fun treasure hunt, but with a sneaky sleepy twist. Give your child a list of items to find in the house and set a timer for 10 minutes. The name of the game is for your child to find all the hidden treasure before the ‘pirate’ (that’s you) wakes up from her slumber. Can he do it?

8. Surprise! What’s in the box?

fun games for tired mums

Similar to the above game, this activity also lets tired mums lie on the couch with eyes closed while your child rummages around the house. This time, let your child decide what to hunt for. Give him an empty box and 10 minutes on the timer. While you keep your eyes closed (it’s very important that mummy’s eyes remain shut), he gathers up different items. Once the timer goes off, he returns to the couch and you have to guess what items he has in his mystery box. Of course, in order to keep it fair, your eyes must remain closed for the guessing part too.

9. Hoop dreams

Laundry basket ball game

Gather up as many small soft objects as you can find in the house (think juggling balls, beanbags, rolled-up socks, stuffed animals, squishy bath toys, even). Then put a laundry basket on the floor and let your little one practice taking shots as you cheer on from the couch. Give them one point for every item that lands in the basket. Or colour code the baskets like this fab idea from FrugalFun4Boys for an educational twist.

Yes, there is minimal clean-up required with this one, but, hey, at least they’re practising those gross motor skills!

Let’s admit it, we’ve all been in the situation where our energy levels don’t match the kids, where all we want to do is catnap on the couch and all they want is to take out every messy craft item and toy they own and scatter them across the house. These activities will allow you to keep your “fun mum” status, even when you’re running on empty.

Looking for more indoor activities to keep your little ones entertained? Check out our other article about 21 ways to get creative with cardboard.

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