Finding safe and engaging ways to occupy your bored kiddo when you’re absolutely exhausted is a true art form. The perfect activity requires nearly zero effort on your end but allows your lightning bug of a tiny human to burn at least a little energy, possibly even while learning something here and there. Also important? Keeping them nearby so you know they aren’t going to come downstairs with a new set of snazzy permanent marker eyebrows.
Inspired by the oh-so-clever “What’s on my Butt” game we recently heard about where your toddler puts something on your body and you guess what it is, here are a couple of activities to do when you’re exhausted with a bored toddler.
Easy games to play with your toddler when you’re absolutely exhausted
Pedicure pool party
Draw a bath for your toddler, pop your tired tootsies into the tub and let your kid go to town with a scrub brush and some soap. Your feet will appreciate the pampering, and your kid will have an excuse to take as long as a bath as you see fit.
Tell your toddler they are the only one who can decode what the new baby is saying. Lay on the floor either with your toddler’s head on your pregnant belly, or next to the new baby while you ask questions like “what’s the baby’s favorite color,” and “how do they feel about sleeping through the night?” You will probably get a laugh or two, and your toddler will start to build a relationship with their future best bud.
Finger painting with a purpose
Use lotion as finger paint, and let your toddler paint a picture on your belly (or your legs, or arms – or all of the above). For an educational twist, have them practice their letters and numbers. Or, you know, just zone out while they scribble away.
Mommy is (as big as) a town
Lay on the floor and let your toddler drive a small toy car around your body. Give them directions like, “oh bus driver, people need a ride from my feet to my hands – oh wait! Now they need to go to my right knee!” and let them have at it. Not only will you get a delicate massage, but it’s also a good way to teach your toddler the difference between left and right. Just keep those tiny wheels out of your tresses – no need to jumpstart your postpartum hair loss.
Eye spy, with a twist
Find somewhere cozy to rest your body and start up a rousing game of eye spy. The twist? Make your toddler touch the item with each guess to keep them moving around the room. Feel free to change your item as many times as necessary to keep them on the go.
Find the Treasure
Have your toddler bring you something small. Hide it somewhere safe and easy to reach in the room and let them try to find it while you lay down. Playing hot or cold is optional, as is lightly napping while they tear the cushions off the couch for the 9000th time that day.
Give your toddler your phone and let them randomly Facetime friends and family members. Will it go well? Depends on how interested your friends and family are in seeing your kid make fish faces at them while ignoring any questions that they may try asking. But who doesn’t love seeing your little cherub unexpectedly? See?! Dial away.
Animal cuddle party
Channel your inner animal, and ask your toddler how they think different creatures would cuddle. Lay on the floor and let them show you how an otter, bat, or an elephant cuddles. Go through every animal you can think of and enjoy those sweet snuggles. Maybe your toddler will fall asleep and you can both catch some much needed zzz’s.
When it comes to finding games to occupy your toddler when you're utterly exhausted, the key is to lower your standards.
Really the thing that means the most to them is just being by you, so any kind of made up game where you’re even moderately mentally present is totally their jam. Go easy on yourself and aim low.
Got an easy toddler activity that worked like a charm while you were pregnant or dealing with serious exhaustion?
Let us know in the comments below!