5 Play Ideas for Kids for the Tired Mama

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By Karen Swan

Isn’t it ironic, that at the time of your life when you are required to have endless energy and enthusiasm (motherhood), your time to actually rest or, heaven forbid, sleep, is drastically reduced.  I’m so used to the feeling of constant fatigue that it’s become normal and I’m still shocked at how much I can actually accomplish on compromised sleep!  There are days however, when opening both eyes at the same time is a challenge and the thought of the long day of toddler wrangling ahead is enough to make you want to scream and hide under the pillow (if only that were an option!).

One thing is certain, no matter how tired you feel if you have children there is no such thing as a sick day, an RDO or one of those restorative ‘mental health’ days.  Tired or not, you are bound to be the one stop fun shop. More than one child to entertain?  If I wore a hat, I’d be tipping it your way!

So, how can you expend the minimum amount of energy and still provide the maximum amount of entertainment for your kids on the days you can barely move?

MamaBake to the rescue with 5 Tired Mama Tips that will hopefully make those long, tired days easier to bear.

  • Unleash their inner artist: Slept more like 4 winks, than 40? Give this a go.  In the most excited voice you can summons, announce that today, Mummy is going to be the drawing paper!  Gather up some non-toxic Textas or pens, stretch out on the couch and present each child with one leg to create their masterpiece on.  Or, for maximum relaxation, lie on a towel or blanket on the floor and let them loose on your back!  You may be able to fool yourself into believing you’re having a massage! (Note to self – remember to wear long pants or a long sleeve shirt if you have to do the school or supermarket dash before you can wash the masterpieces off!)
  • Stick them in water:  Water fixes everything.  Sit them in an empty bath with a few bowls of water, one filled with suds and some ‘washing up’.  Fill a bucket with water, sit them in front of the windows (or bathroom tiles if it’s raining outside), hand them a paintbrush and let them ‘paint’.  Think about bath time.  Most kids splash away happily in the bath with only parent supervision rather than demanding parent participation.  Bring the sandpit toys indoors and create a bathroom beach.  Think of it as 30 minutes where all that’s required is sitting on a chair, watching them play. (Let’s ignore the mess that will be yours to tidy later shall we?)
  • Play hairdressers:  I’ve recently discovered that my son can sit for hours, well hours in toddler time, so really 30 minutes, pretending to straighten my hair.  Hand him a hairbrush and he’s good for another 30. Perfect solution. Maximum outcome, minimum effort.  I get to sit down, he’s occupied and still benefits from engaging play with Mummy.
  • Drive:  This is not the day to go for a real drive.  I’m sure we’ve all had days when we know that we’re too tired to drive, but still do.  Fire up their imaginations and go for a pretend drive.  I used to fight my son on this one because it felt like doing nothing.  Bingo!  Exactly the goal on a tired day.  Encourage them to use their imaginations and tell you all about where they’re taking you and what you see along the way. You or your child can ‘drive’; a plastic lid makes a great steering wheel! (For safety, obviously ensure that doors can’t lock, use imaginary keys and keep your hand on the handbrake!)
  • Get outdoors:  Sometimes, being inside can just make you feel worse.  If bub is little, then load them into the pram and take a gentle stroll.  The fresh air will do you good.  Most older kids will happily play independently at the park, giving you time to recharge with a cuppa or simply by being still as you sit and watch.  Spread a picnic blanket in the backyard or park and make up stories about the things you see.  Lay down (see, there are ways to get horizontal!) and make shapes from the clouds.  More often than not, the very act of getting outdoors rejuevenates in the way only Mother Nature can.

Remember, when you are feeling like you will never feel rested again, that there is no competition, no medals for who can soldier on the most.  Ask for help.  Do only what you can manage and take it slowly. Pushing yourself will only make things worse.  Take it a day, an hour, a minute at a time until you feel better.  Think of quiet play as a wonderful way to connect with your kids and encourage their imaginations and empathy. Go gently on yourself.

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