There’s nothing harder than looking after kids when you’re tired or poorly.
Much as we love them, they’re not the most sympathetic of creatures and will still want to bounce off the walls – and expect you to join in too!
The Duracell Bunny’s got nothing on my kids, but I’ve learned a few tricks along the way to buy peace and quiet when I’m desperate.
Here are our favourite things to do with little ones when you’re shattered, poorly, or just need a bit of time to yourself.
Build a cushion fort: Pull the cushions off the sofa and let the kids get busy! They will enjoy bouncing around on it all and it only takes a few minutes to put away later.
Soft furnishings obstacle course: This is great if they’ve got energy to burn! Tell them to make tunnels with cushions and other obstacles to climb and crawl across. They could pretend the floor is crocodile infested water and leap from cushion to cushion to escape!
Have a dance party: Sit back, play some music on your phone and let them bust the moves. You could also blow bubbles, or break out some glow sticks. I’ve found some of these in the pound shop recently!
Start a cupboard of cheap toys: I have a friend who is a master of stashing away cheap toys and crafts for emergencies or rainy days. She often has a few of each, so no squabbling about who gets what. It works a treat and I have started my own with sticker books, fancy pens and colouring stuff, playdoh and joke toys. A Whoopie Cushion was a big hit recently! The Pound shops are perfect to find all the treasure (tat!) that the kids will love!
Set a design challenge: Can they build a boat using only paper? Or an airplane from matchsticks? A tower from straws? Add glue, sticky tape and scissors, then sit back and enjoy the creativity.
Let them put on a show: An old cardboard box makes a great theatre, but kids are inventive and will figure something out. They could enjoy acting, dancing, use puppets (or make their own!), or their hands to make shadow animals.
Have a bath with regular toys: Baths are always a brilliant distraction for my kids, especially if they choose toys that aren’t usually allowed in there. Obviously, don’t use anything electrical, and only things that are okay to get wet. Barbies are a particular favourite in this house!
Do Yoga: Cosmic Kids is a great yoga channel on You Tube, with lots of themed yoga sessions especially for kids. Some of our favourites are Frozen, Moana and Harry Potter. Even the three-year-old gets stuck in!
Play with a torch: Close the curtains, turn out the lights and hand out torches. They can make patterns on the wall, shadow animals with their hands, or go on an indoor scavenger hunt.
Build a tent under the table: An old blanket draped over the dining table makes a cool tent for the kids to hang out in. They can take in cushions and pillows to make it extra comfy, as well as a torch, snacks and water bottles, toys, colouring and anything else to keep them busy, all while you relax.
Outdoor water painting: Just grab a paint brush and a (plastic) cup of water and let them make patterns and pictures on the outdoor paths and walls. It dries quickly in the sun though so they have to work fast, and maybe take some pictures of any masterpieces they might want to save. The best bit is there is no tidying away!
Play an audio book/story: Sometimes you just need everyone to lie down and chill! Audio books are great for this. Get everyone comfy with blankets and cushions and play a story through your phone or mart home device. You don’t even have to read, so you can chill too. Just try not to fall asleep!