20 Learning Games for When Mom or Dad is Exhausted

Parents of preschoolers are tired people. Caring for little ones is exhausting work. We have the best intentions of providing enriching activities for our kids, but when exhaustion sets in, good intentions go out the window. To help you plan for those times when you need something your child can do while you are lying down or sitting, here's a list of 20 activities.

  1. Finger paint in shaving cream spread on a cookie sheet.
  2. Play with play dough.
  3. Read. If you're reading a well-known book, try changing some of the words or sentences and let your child have fun catching your "mistakes."
  4. Play Chutes and Ladders or Candyland.
  5. Put on music and let your child dance. Try giving her a bean bag and challenge her to dance with the beanbag on her head, between her knees, or on her elbow.
  6. Play "red light, green light."
  7. Play a following directions game. Give your child silly things to do.
  8. Put out two or three items on a plate, then cover them up and see if your child can remember what he saw. Let him do the same for you.
  9. Throw a sheet over a card table to make a fort. Let your child take toys inside.
  10. Put a little tub of water on the kitchen floor. Gather up a bunch of objects and let your child test if they sink or float.
  11. String big beads on shoelaces.
  12. Play "Race for the Colors."
  13. Let him toss bean bags and try to get them in a laundry basket.
  14. Give her a balloon and see if she can keep it from touching the ground.
  15. Say words and try to come up with rhymes together. The rhyming words can be real words or silly words.
  16. Play with sewing cards.
  17. Spread sand in a pie plate. Help your child write or draw in the sand.
  18. Let him help you with jobs. This is fun for preschoolers! He can find all the socks in the laundry, or put silverware into piles of spoons, forks, knives. (Don't fix his work while he's watching.)
  19. Put out colored lids or blocks and let him find matches (blocks or lids that are the same color).
  20. Paint, color, stick stickers, and make art work.

What ideas do you have for tired days? Please share in the comments.


Photo Credit: Kiran Foster cc

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