The lazy mother’s guide to playing with the kids
Playing with the kids

It can be great playing with kids. They're so full of adventure and spirit that you're allowed to revert to your own childhood. However, parents don't always have the endless amounts of energy that kids do, and sometimes we just can't bring ourselves to muster the excitement to play doctor and save teddy's life for the 100th time.

Do kids care? Hell, no! Kids want to play, regardless of how their parents feel. All. The. Time.

They’re like The Terminator with loom bands.

So on we must soldier; like it or not. Here are my top tips for playing with kids while expending the smallest amount of energy possible.

  • Get out of the house. This may seem counter-intuitive, given that you’d rather be lying on the couch, but trust me. Taking kids to the beach, or the park, or anywhere that isn’t your house gives them the opportunity to explore new worlds and to get further away from you than is possible at home. Find a nice shady spot, smile and wave occasionally, and enjoy the serenity. For extra security, wear dark sunnies and a stern frown to discourage other people’s kids from talking to you. (Please remember that children should be actively supervised when in or near water).
  • Hide and seek. You have two options here: you can hide in such a great spot that the kids will never find you – think attic, secret panel behind the fireplace, the cupboard with the cleaning products; or you can be the seeker, count up to 7000 and then find a comfy spot to read while the kids think they are the most genius hiders around.
  • ‘Play’ the housework game. Get the kids to pretend to be Mum or Dad and give them jobs – sweep the floor, clean the mirrors, wipe down the benchtops – and each time they finish a job, give them a reward. They will love the reward system for a bit, and then they’ll get sick of the game and won’t want to play with you any more. With any luck, they’ll go to their room to read for half an hour.
  • Mission Impossible. Give the kids ‘missions’ to complete that are appropriate to their age. Send small ones out to the garden to find the prettiest flower they can find, and bring it back to you. Bigger kids might like to look for clues as to what sort of animal left those footprints in the mud last night. Alternatively, you can plan ahead and drop items in the garden for them to find on a treasure hunt. You’ll get even more enthusiasm if those items are edible and contain sugar. All the while, you can sip a cup of tea and ‘watch’ (i.e. read the paper).
  • Pillow fights. All kids love letting loose with a pillow fight. If your kids are still little, this can be a great way to get a good lie down. They don’t hit very hard yet, so you can let them go to town on you. Just be sure to make the occasional noise so they feel like they’re getting you good. Oh, and don’t start snoring. NB: Don’t attempt this activity if your kids are bigger. You will get hurt.

And if all those ideas fail, rest assured that kids benefit from lazy parents sometimes. Because when we withdraw and leave kids to their own devices, they are forced to use their imagination, entertain themselves and become more self-sufficient. So really, by lying on the couch and watching Family Feud and eating chips, you’re helping to shape them into the productive and resourceful adults that will one day run this crazy world. They should be thanking us.

This article was written by Carolyn Tate for and has been adapted for

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