Please Remain Seated: Entertaining Littles from the Couch

I’m 75% sure I am part bear. I can’t say I’ve caught any salmon lately, but I definitely go into partial hibernation mode from January through, well, whenever the heck the midwestern weather starts staying above 40 degrees. Don’t get me wrong. I’m normally an active person. But whenever our busy schedule allows, I love staying home on my comfy couch in my joggers and slippers next to a warm fire in the fireplace. My daughter inevitably objects to this. (Seriously, where does ALL that energy come from?!) And, while she’s getting better and better at playing solo, I do enjoy taking advantage of our days at home, ignoring the never-ending chore list, and playing with her. There’s always the obvious things to do like reading, puzzles, board and card games, bubbles, or watching Netflix. But I keep this list of games and indoor activities in my arsenal that are a little different and versatile, fun for my daughter, and that still allow me to be a lazy bum on the couch.

Bring Outdoor Toys In

Once it starts to get consistently cold out, we bring our daughter’s small trampoline, slide, and bike indoors. Space restraints may not give you this option, but if you can swing it (pun intended), it’s so nice to have a mini playground where she can work off that endless energy while I chill on the sofa. Our daughter will ride her bike around and around our first floor like it’s her job.

“Ice” Skating

No rink? No problem. Throw some dryer sheets, paper plates, or empty tissue boxes at your kids and let them go to town. Non-carpeted floors are required.

Building Toys

I’ll grab our buckets of Duplos, classic Legos, the marble run, Magformers, any and all tracks, cars, etc. and keep them within reach of the couch. And then we’ll just build. It’s fun to construct huge, intertwining buildings and roads with different materials and to see what my daughter comes up with herself.

Shadow Puppet Theatre

I’m still not sure why this activity is so captivating, but my daughter loves it. Close the blinds or head to the basement, turn off all the lights, and grab a flashlight or two. We will make shadow puppets and experiment with how different things look as a shadow for at least an hour on our lazy days. Mix it up: Draw silhouettes of yourselves or your kid’s favorite toys.

Art Projects

Much like the building toys, we’ll pull out a bunch of coloring books, crayons, markers, colored pencils, safety scissors, glue sticks, stamps and stamp pads, Kwik Stix, etc. Oh, and don’t forget the wipes for clean up! We have a coffee table we park ourselves around with all our supplies. One time, we made a whole family out of pipe-cleaners and modeling clay as well as a “house” to play pretend in.

Indoor Picnics or Camping

The picnic part of this activity is far easier if you don’t have a dog who enjoys stealing good food off of plates like I have. But it’s always a hit! You’re going to eat lunch anyway, so why not build a pillow and blanket fort or spread out a blanket and eat off paper plates on the floor? Mix it up: If you have it and are up for it, pitch a real tent right in the living room complete with sleeping bags, real picnic basket, and other gear.

Playing Make-believe

This is one of my least favorite couch games. (I know, I know. It’s terrible. I’m terrible. Whatever.) But I’m usually up for playing Doctor or playing Salon. This is partially due to the fact that we have a pretty cool pretend doctor’s kit and partially because I flipping love having my hair brushed and played with. The best part is I get to lay down when I’m the doctor’s patient or when I’m getting my hair “washed”. Mix it up: Pull out some real band-aids, gauze, ace bandages, medical tape, or whatever you’re willing to part with. Stuffed animals and other toys can need a check-up or a new hairstyle too.

Simon Says or Red Light Green Light

No setup, no cleanup, and an underlying lesson in listening attentively? Heck yes. Mix it up: Throw in different colored lights to the Red Light Green Light game. Maybe “orange light” means your kids have to do something silly, or “blue light” means they have to do five jumping jacks. Throw in chores disguised as an action in Simon Says. “Simon says put away five Legos!”

Dance Party

This one is hit or miss as my daughter usually wants me to dance *with* her. But when it does work or she has a friend over to dance with, I move furniture out of the way and crank up some kid-friendly jams. My husband is a tech toy enthusiast, so we have the Philips Hue lightbulbs in our living room that let us set the mood with multi-colored lights too. Mix it up: Do a Freeze Dance!

Treasure Hunting

If you have older children who are reading, this one is fantastic. Give them a list of however many things you want, and off they go, ideally leaving you to put up your feet and maybe even doze off for thirty seconds at a time. For now, because my daughter is still in preschool, I’ll tell her one item at a time to find. She loves “treasure hunting” and brings her item back to me victoriously. Mix it up: Have your kids sort the items by color or shape as they find them. Hide puzzle pieces and have your kids put them back piece by piece. Do an ABC hunt where they have to find one thing that starts with each letter of the alphabet. Do a hunt in the dark with flashlights.

Walk Down Memory Lane

My mom recently had all our old Beta (yes, Beta) and VHS tapes converted to DVDs. It’s incredibly fun to pop them in and show my daughter. She loves seeing me do and say things “just like her” when I was young. I love showing her who her maternal Great-Grandmother and Great-Grandfather were. Looking through old photo albums works too! And if you haven’t inherited any of these things yet, I’ve found that my kiddo also likes looking through her baby books, scrolling through older pictures and videos of herself, and hearing stories about her infancy.

Indoor Obstacle Course

This requires a fair amount of set up and clean up, but it’s a trade-off for a good chunk of couch potato time once setup is complete. I like that I can use practically anything. Couch cushions (not the ones I’m sitting on, of course), pillows, tape, hula hoops, plastic cups, pool noodles, the slide I brought in from outside… The options are endless. Although, I do usually use the tape to make simple, parallel lines so we can use them for other games later. Tape lines that start out as “hurdles” or “balance beams” in your obstacle course can later be lines to measure how far your kids can jump or how far paper airplanes can fly. Mix it up: The floor is lava! Do the course acting like different animals. Time how fast your kids can get through the course three times.

I use these activities on days I need to zen out and become one with my couch. I imagine they may also come in handy if you’re stuck on the couch feeding a newborn while their older sibling(s) run in circles or if you’re feeling under the weather. No matter the situation, I hope you find something to keep those Energizer bunnies we call children occupied! You deserve to put your feet up! What are your favorite lazy day games?

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