Motherhood

4 Games to Play With Kids While You’re Lying Down

I Love Lucy

Yesterday afternoon, I was bone tired, but five-year-old Anton wanted to play ALL THE GAMES. Hide and seek! Magna-Tiles! Battle! Suddenly, I remembered a brilliant solution…

“I’m always looking for parenting ideas that let me sit still,” a reader named Emily had commented a while back. “My favorite one I’ve heard is called ‘What’s on my butt?‘ where the parent sprawls facedown on the couch and has to guess what objects the kid is setting down on their butt.” A toy dinosaur? An orange? Who cares, you’re lying down.

Another game to play horizontally is “doctor examining an incredibly sick patient — so sick that she can’t move and can barely talk,” suggests Raquel D’Apice, as well as an art class where the kids draw a woman in repose. Writer Michelle Woo recommends “Ninja training,” in which you close your eyes and have kids try to walk past you as quietly as possible. If you hear them make a sound, they have to go back to the starting line.

Once, when we were growing up, my mom was so exhausted, she paid my sister and me $10 each (which is approximately one billion dollars to nine-year-olds) NOT TO TALK for the entire evening. The two of us tiptoed around, like the twins in The Shining, while my mom read her book and drank a glass of Chardonnay with ice. Well played, Jean. Well played.

What would you add?

P.S. What parenting is really like, and going from one to two kids.

  1. allison says...

    Our daughter is a teenager now, but when she was in early grade school we would play scavenger hunt so I could lay down and rest. I’d write up a full page of items for her to find, e.g. 12 red legos, six different colored hair ties, a cookbook with a specific recipe in it, etc. Not only did she take a long time to find everything, at the end she also had to formally present everything to me in order to confirm that she had accomplished her mission. This would usually give me 30 minutes at least.

  2. I’m so glad I came back to read this. “What’s on my butt” is the best name of a game, ever.

    My favorite lying down game at our house is barber shop. I tell my 3 year old to pretend he’s Lloyd (our son’s and my husband’s barber) and give me a haircut. He uses a toy as pretend scissors (don’t take chances: make sure all real cutting scissors are put away and remind your child do not ACTUALLY cut any hair) and he plays with my hair while I’m lying down. It’s the best. When he’s done he looks at me sweetly and says, “There. Looks good.”

  3. Tristen says...

    I just had to come back and add another one. As a connoisseur of parenting-while-lying-down, please let me introduce you to the game “Fossil,” currently a hit with my genius husband and dino-obsessed 4-year-old. We give the 4 year old a soft brush (paint brush or baby brush), and then lay down and become a fossil. The 4 year old becomes a paleontologist and brushes away the sand to reveal *gasp* A COMPLETE FOSSIL. What a moment for science! The kicker is that he has to correctly identify the TYPE of fossil before we get up. ; ) YOU’RE WELCOME.

  4. Elya VK says...

    These are all so great! When we were young, my Dad read us story time for like half an hour while lying down on his stomach. We were “allowed” to walk on his back and legs. Massage/Playground for the win!

  5. Rebecca says...

    Late to this party, but I love this post (how I wish I’d known about “what’s on my butt?” when my kids were younger!) and wanted to chime in for anyone who is reading through these for more ideas: my mom and my nephew once played an extended game of “let’s pretend to be animals” in which he was a monkey – and she was a sloth. She lay on the couch while he happily romped around her. They both loved it.

  6. An instagram mom I follow calls it “sitervising” which is just so on point! My almost 4-year-old is an only child, and none of his friends live close by. So he ends up bugging me to play with him all the time – not my favourite activity!
    Yesterday, on the way home from a weekend away, we’d been in the car for a few hours already. He was losing the plot, so I created a game for him which got us home! We each (him, his dad and I) each chose a colour. Then we had to spot cars in those colours and keep a tally of how many we saw. He ended up winning (I may have fixed it, as I was tally-keeper) but it was the perfect thing we need to get home!

  7. Sara says...

    Ha! These are great! My kids are a bit older now but I remember drawing letters or numbers on their back with my finger and they’d try to guess! They loved ‘writing’ on my back too.

  8. Kelsey says...

    This is my favorite Cup of Jo post ever, only because it is so instantly relevant.

  9. Andrea says...

    I invented “secret missions” while stick In an airport with an antsy 4 year old. I had a list of missions that included things like: count the windows on that wall, how many ladies are sitting in that section, how many red things can you count, how many outlets are In the waiting area…she would run around counting. Which gave me enough time to breath and sit. And think of the next challenge which was actually quite fun.

  10. Afi says...

    I think I hit the parenting jackpot a few weeks ago. My 7 year old wanted to play spa. She ran me a bath and added rose petals and lavender oil. She and my 4 year old proceeded to let me bathe while they setup my bedroom with a towel so I could lie down for a massage after the bath. They also played spa music and gave me a little massage.

    • Nicky says...

      Wow! That is the jackpot. Hope there will be many more spa days to come :)

    • Lauren says...

      This has worked in my house for several years! Hand massages with lotion, backrubs, scalp rubs, hairstyling. When my kids were smaller and I hurt my back we played carwash, where I was a dirty car lying on the floor and they had to use toys to pretend to wash me. Or surgery, where they would examine me, perform pretend surgery, and then bandage me up with blankets.

  11. KAt says...

    This made me really laugh.