It’s Sunday afternoon – in a world pre-children you’d have been lazing around after a long lunch, instead you find yourself dreaming of quiet time on the sofa whilst your small pot of wonder demonstrates just how cruel dropping their afternoon nap is for parents
Obviously for the rest of the week you are super engaged and involved but for now what you want are a few ideas for things to keep them busy which require less than all of your attention and can probably be played whilst checking your phone in one hand or watching TV…
1. Isn’t this a lovely hat!
We spend ages teaching children that there are things that go on your head, a hat, and that there is a whole lot of stuff that does not go on your head. This game owes its origins to my Great Aunt Vivienne but please don’t play right before dinner is served or the consequences might be a little… well… messy.
Simply put, you place something, a book, a toy car or an item of clothing on your head, look at the small person and proudly say ‘isn’t this a lovely hat!’. Their eyes will go wide and they’ll giggle. They might even take it off and put it on their head. Once they’re done either put it back on your head or find a new thing and in an EVEN prouder voice say ‘isn’t THIS a lovely hat!’
Repeat endlessly or until you run out of objects that shouldn’t be put on your head
2. Jingly jangly birthday card disco
Finally I have discovered a use for those adorable birthday cards that come with a little squeaky tune inside. Admittedly this is not a game to play if you have a headache but it does work like a dream.
Extract the birthday card with the tune from wherever you hid it (or go wild and buy a new one and have some control over what music is about to take over your living room) and hand it to the small child.
The super laid back version of this game is simply to leave them to it – they’ll open it, shut it, open it, shut it, open it, shut it and so on for ages. Rule of thumb is that if it goes quiet for more than a minute check that they haven’t taken the card to pieces and are eating the batteries…
The slightly less laid back version of the game (and you can obviously switch between the two) is to wait until they open the card and then bop around like a loon, when they close it freeze, when they open it bop around like a loon, when they close it freeze. Even better if you’re tidying up lunch and don’t announce to them that you’re bopping away – they’ll realise and go nuts, especially when they discover they can control the dance / freeze action
3. Fake phone / remote control
I have no idea why but for some reason small people are attracted to mobile phones and remote controls like little bits of iron fillings to a magnet – they love them (the state of my remote control complete with teeth marks and a dodgy connection is the result of this love affair with electronic thingys by my girls)
Somewhere around the house you might have an old phone or remote that either has given up the ghost, doesn’t control anything you currently own or has got broken. Admittedly unlike us you probably don’t have a whole cupboard full of bits of old electronic kit that might come in use some day in the future – a date where technology will have rolled back and minidisk players might be popular again…
Anyway find your now defunct gizmo and hide it under a cushion on the sofa (where you’ll be collapsed by this stage). When the small person finds it and tries to take it away, gently take it off them saying ‘oh no this is important and grown up and you can’t have it in case you break it’. Hide again. Allow small child to find it and take away again. Repeat a few times and then… just let them have it. They’ll disappear off behind the armchair to gloat over their booty and you’ll have 10 minutes of uninterrupted peace. Admittedly you will later find the thing squirrelled away in their bed along with all their other very precious things
4. Box clever
The old ones, as they say, are the best – all you need is a reasonably sized box big enough for a small person to climb in and out and preferably sit in. Being able to get in and out on their own is Very Important unless you want to spend your valuable sofa time getting up to put them in / out of the box every few minutes.
Take out whatever was in it and hand over to your child.
And leave to get on with it.
If you’re feeling particularly brave, when the attraction of the box starts to fade a bit (two or three days in), allow them to decorate it or make it into something new. We had one of the teddybears forced to live in a box as a dog house for a month or so last year…
5. Letter for yoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu
This works best if two grown ups are either side of the living room slumped in armchairs. One of you hands a piece of paper on with some writing and says to the small person ‘can you deliver this letter to thingy’ and off they toddle. Even better if you can tell them to say ‘letter for yooooooooooooooooooouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu’ when handing it over, you of course say ‘letter for meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee’ and then hand it back to them and ask them to take it over to the other person and to repeat the whole process. Again and again.
Enjoy your afternoon slump and don’t say I don’t work hard testing these things out so you can have as horizontal and afternoon as possible