We all need a list of games to play with our kids while lying down, because…
We’ve had such a busy day of work, regardless of what the work involved. It’s late in the afternoon and all we want to do is crash on the bed or sit on the sofa with our feet up. And that’s when we hear ‘Play with me!’.
Or we’ve just been away for a few days, be it on a job trip or medical intervention, and we now feel drained. We want and need to rest, but we are alone with the kids and they’ve missed us, so they run to us, asking ‘Can you play with me?’.
Why do kids ask for play when we’re tired?
Rest assured that if your child asks for play when you’re tired and can’t seem to be able to give you the space to rest, it’s not because they are selfish or needy. Children depend on us, they depend on feeling connected to us to feel safe. And play is their world, their language, and one of the quickest ways of establishing the connection and gaining safety.
And sometimes we also feel disconnected from our children and, though exhausted, want to connect with them, to offer them the chance to show us their inner world through play. But how can we do both things, how can we rest and play at the same time?
How do you play with kids when tired?
Keep in mind that there will always be situations in which, no matter how strong our desire to play is, our capacity, our energy levels, will still be too low to cope with play. And that’s ok, our children will manage. Our needs and our physical well-being are important too and we deserve the time to attend to them.
But in those situations in which we could cope with play as long as we don’t have to move our bodies, here are some ideas of games that you might enjoy and that you can play with your kids while lying down.
These games are bound to boost connection with your kids, and all the while you’re doing… nothing! And by that I mean nothing, not moving a finger! All you have to do is just lie down on the bed or sofa, and delight in the giggles you are bound to hear while your kids are in charge, having fun while being close to you.
If you are taking care of multiple children while running low energy, some of the following games are also a powerful tool in building closeness between the children. These games can contribute to improving the siblings’ relationship as they will team up against you and end up making plans, working, and laughing a lot together.
Fun games to play when you have zero energy
The volcano or hide the parent
You make yourself comfortable on the sofa or bed, and the kids have the mission to build the biggest volcano on top of you. They can use pillows, blankets, even soft toys, but they need to be on the lookout: the volcano might erupt at any second!
All you have to do is rest and relax, maybe move a bit from time to time just to give the kids a bit of a thrill that the volcano might erupt. Once you’ve gained some energy, you can ‘erupt’ and try to catch them and give them a big hug!
A variation of this game is ‘hide the parent’ where you don’t have to move at all and the kids need to completely cover you with cushions and blankets.
What’s on my back
Rest your body wherever it feels comfortable for you – on the bed, on the sofa, on the floor. Lay face down and have your kids put a toy on your back. All you have to do now is try to guess what the toy is!
A variation of this game is ‘tracing on my back’, where you lay down on your stomach and children trace letters or numbers on your back with one finger. This time you have to guess what they wrote.
You can push this a bit further and have them write a short word on your back. The good thing is that you don’t even have to guess! In fact, it’s a good idea to not guess and come up with all sorts of silly or non-sense words that will get your children to laugh, which in turn helps them release tensions and feel closer to you.
This is an easy game for you as all you have to do is lay down and pretend to be a patient. The children are the knowledgeable doctors and skilled nurses who will make you better by preparing potions, checking your temperature, listening to your heartbeat and giving you syrups.
It’s a really fun and powerful game for kids as they get to be the ones who are in charge, they are in the known, they have the power for once. This role reversal is extremely beneficial to them, countering all those daily moments in which they have no power or control over what happens to them and what they have to do.
A variation of this game is ‘fix the robot’. In this case, you are a robot that’s broken and the kids need to use all their tools, measuring devices, and creativity to fix you.
Spy training or sleeping giant/dragon
Being a spy involves a lot of sneaking around, and this is the perfect training for your kids to have while you just… lie down! Close your eyes, relax, and have the kids try to sneak past you. But the thing is, whenever you hear the tiniest noise, they have to go back to the starting line and start the game over! Once you’re done resting, let the kids win, this will boost their confidence and will boost the connection with you.
A variation of this game is ‘the sleeping dragon/giant’. In this game, you are a dragon/giant that’s sleeping in its lair on a treasure (aka pile of toys). While this creature is sleeping, the kids must retrieve the treasure. The question is, how many things can they gather from the treasure before the creature hears and wakes up?
You can also have the kids build a treasure on top of you, while you’re the sleeping giant/dragon. The challenge is to see how big the treasure is before the creature wakes up! A perfect game also for when you have a headache and can’t stand the kids’ noise.
This is a great game for you to even take a short nap while the kids, especially if they love drawing or using modelling clay.
To play this game all you have to do is lay down comfortably wherever you want, and have your kids draw you with crayons or washable markers, paint you, or even sculpt you using modelling clay.
For added fun, you can let the children add props on top of you. When they’re done, have them talk to you about how they did the work of art, what was an easy part, what was challenging, and so on – this way you get to rest some more while getting another look inside your child’s mind.
Go crazy with stickers
Most of the toddlers love stickers, but many older children still enjoy them too, especially if stickers are combined with being in charge of how an adult ends up looking!
Keep a pile of sticker sheets handy, and hand them over when you need to recharge by doing nothing for a while. Let the kids stick them all over themselves and over you, this way they get their creativity working while building self-confidence.
Pretend to be asleep throughout the whole activity, and when you’ve regained some energy, ‘wake up’ and be absolutely shocked about what happened here! This ‘shocked’ reaction is sure to bring lots of laughter as children love it when adults go through experiences through which kids go on a regular basis, like being taken by surprise by what’s happening around them.
A ruler or a measuring tape, a pencil and a piece of paper – these are your ‘friends’ that will help you rest, even take a nap, while your little ones are ‘busy at work’. Their task for the day is to measure everything about you and around you: your feet, your fingers, your toe, your arm, the sofa, the blanket, the pillow. They also need to write down all the numbers, filling out a ‘data log’ on you.
Fun games to play with your kids with minimum effort
The following games still offer you a break, but they do require the tiniest effort on your part.
At the Zoo
Role reversal time: you’re a helpless, clumsy, little animal at the zoo, and the child is the knowledgeable, strong, able zookeeper that can take care of you. And you do get to be fussy if you want to – the lair isn’t comfy enough, the blanket is too rough, the food is too mushy, the temperature is too cold.
Put the parent to bed
In this game, it’s your turn to be the child who needs to go to bed but needs a story, a warmer blanket, and a comfier pillow, and ‘Wait a minute, where’s the milk and cookie?’. Ask for all that you as a child need from your ‘parents’ while you lie down and relax because it’s children’s turn to be the ones in charge to put the ‘child’ to bed.
Go on a pretend train ride
Turn the sofa into a train, yell ‘All aboard!’ and have your kid be the driver. Have them bring their soft toys/stuffed animals as passengers, alongside you, and hold on tight, you’re in for a treat! Sit back and relax while your child drives the ‘train’, telling you all about the destination and what they see on the way, stopping on the way for friends to get on or off. If you have a bit of energy, you can also start singing the silliest song you can think of, bringing laughter and boosting the connection.
Stargazing or light show
Take a colander and a torch with you and go in a ‘not so bright’ room. Lie on the floor or bed, and shine the light through the colander: there you have it, your very own starry sky! And if you have several kids around you, they can bring add small toys to the scene and create a little story.
While on the floor or bed, there’s also room for cuddles, and just the proximity of your bodies offers children the safety and connection that they need.
When my kids were younger, we would create rackets using a lollipop stick and a paper plate and we would play ‘tennis’ with a balloon. Or just using the hands is just as good for a ‘volleyball’ game.
This is a really fun activity that also creates room for eye contact and laughter, which are great connection boosters. You can also challenge yourself to see how many times you can hit the balloon without it falling down!
Guess what I’m thinking or what character you are
If your body is tired but your mind is active and feels like creating stories, this game is perfect. All you have to do is think of a silly scenario. Your kids’ mission is to guess the story by asking yes/no questions.
Another game that my kids invented is ‘guess what character you are’. If I were to play it with one kid, I would think of a character for them, and they would think of a character for me. The character can be from books, movies, or games. Then I would ask them yes/no questions to try and figure out what character they had decided I was.
These games are also brilliant for more players, and for different occasions, like during a car journey or a plane flight.
It might be that this game needs no introduction as it’s a favourite amongst children, being a great boredom buster. The idea is simple: one player, the Spy, selects an object that is visible to all the players and says “I spy with my little eye something beginning with …”, naming the letter the chosen object starts with. The other players then have to guess the chosen object.
For younger children, this game can be adapted to colours or shapes.
Fortunately – Unfortunately
Get that creativity roaring while your body does nothing and create a story with your kids, taking turns adding one phrase each. The story starts with ‘Fortunately [add your bit to the story]’, the next storyteller continues with ‘unfortunately [adds their bit to the story]’, and so on. Once everyone gets the hang of the game, you might end up playing it during car journeys as well.
What I love about this game is that it can bring a lot of laughter while at the same time offering us another insight into our children’s universe and thinking.
Relax on your favourite armchair or sofa, get paper or a whiteboard, pens or markers, and start this fun guessing game! Take turns with your kids thinking of book titles, movies, video games, jobs or superheroes, and start sketching the word/title/character until a correct guess is made. And when you’re the Picturist, make sure to draw in a silly manner, dropping the pencil, or getting confused, forgetting what you were sketching and so on – this is sure to bring laughter and boost connection!
Repeat after me
This is a sweet funny game, especially for younger children, and it’s a great way to bring laughter and connect quickly. All you have to do is maintain eye contact with your child and make up silly sounds. Think of ‘achoo’, ‘zoom’, ‘boing’, or ‘kaboom’. Make the sounds as funny as you can muster and have your child repeat those sounds after you.
Most children love a scavenger hunt, and with this version of it, you might become a fan too! Just make yourself as comfortable as possible and send the kids to find all sorts of things: “Can you find something that’s a triangle”, or “something with a bow,” or “something that is yellow”.
Play this game for as long as you need to rest, then you can join them in putting all the things back with the ‘let’s beat the clock’ game, in which you’re all a team and you have to put all the things back before the time runs out. Chances are they will feel connected with you and want to keep playing with you, so tidying up (if it’s a game) will go really smoothly.
So there they are, over 20 ideas of connection-boosting games that you can play with your kids while lying down. I’m wondering which one you are going to try first, so let me know in the comments below!
Remember to download the free printable, it’s the list of all these games that you can play with your kids while lying down – you can print the list and stick it next to your bed or sofa, so you get inspired the next time your kids say ‘Play with me!’ while you really need to not more a finger.