Games to Play with Your Kids When You’re Tired

blog tired mom
Photo courtesy Anna Angenend

Let’s face it — as much as we love our kids, this parenting gig is exhausting. And sometimes, two pots of coffee (for me) and four hours of Daniel Tiger (for them) might not be enough to keep them entertained. When the baby’s been up all night, or you’re feeling under the weather, or you just cannot handle another minute of reenacting “Frozen” or assisting with play dough creations, here are some tried-and-true games to play with your kid(s) that require minimal effort on your part.

Hide and seek

Hear me out. While hide and seek seems to be a tough game (it requires physical movement), I challenge you to rethink your hiding spots. Offer to hide first, and plant yourself alongside the couch or in the bathtub. They’ll be hunting all over the house, and you’ll have the opportunity to catch a catnap or check status updates on Facebook.

Sleeping giants

Similar to Jack and the Beanstalk, you are a giant who is sleeping next to your “treasure” (soft blocks work great for this). Your child’s mission is to take all of your treasure without waking you up. This requires them to tiptoe and move very, very slowly and place the treasure back in its appropriate container. (Bonus: This one tricks them into cleaning up their toys.) Insist on silence on their part. After all, they wouldn’t want to incur the wrath of a giant, would they?

Hair dresser

This is my personal favorite. Give your child a hair brush and some elastics and clips, and ask them to give you a hairstyle appropriate for a (insert special occasion here). Demand perfection, and make them redo it several times until you are satisfied. Try not to flinch when they pull out a chunk of hair, and enjoy the mini scalp massage that hopefully accompanies it.


Doctor, help, quick! Your patient needs surgery, stat! Use your doctor’s kit to examine your patient, who happens to be so ill that she’s passed out on the floor. Next, you must spend several hours carefully and gently operating on your patient, who is now under anesthesia and cannot move. Don’t worry; your masterful surgeon skills will mean the surgery will be a success and she’ll pull through eventually.


Face painter

When my daughter became obsessed with face painting, this game became a staple in our house. Hand your child a paint brush and a set of watercolors and ask him or her to be a face painter. (Just make sure you “forget” to set out cup of water). Then, let your child go to town by designing intricate butterflies, sharks, or cats on your face. Remind your child that it’s very important that you keep your eyes closed the ENTIRE TIME.


You are an exhausted, demanding mother customer in need of a cup of Joe. Your child is a Starbucks barista who must bring coffee and bagels as you lay on the couch. Continually demand refills and tell them that you cannot move until you’ve been sufficiently caffeinated. Oh wait — perhaps this one mimics real life a bit too closely…