5 Ways to Entertain Your Child When You’d Rather be Sleeping



We’ve all been there – maybe you had a little too much fun on Saturday night, or maybe you woke up with a cold and you just don’t feel like entertaining a small child until you have lazed about for a good 10 hours. In my case, I am expecting baby number two and I barely have enough energy to shower, much less run after my very active 15-month-old. In a perfect world I would plop my daughter in front of the TV, but she won’t sit still for such “activities” at this age.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, so I’ve come up with some creatively lazy ways to entertain even the most active of toddlers. The best part is that, when we jazz up the activity names a bit, it doesn’t even sound like bad parenting! It’s really all about marketing and whatever we need to tell ourselves to not feel terrible.

So, without further ado, here is my list of fun activities for toddlers when the bare minimum is all you can muster:

1. The Cinema Verite; Amount of time of killed: 10 minutes
Nothing keeps my daughter in bed on a Saturday morning like watching videos of herself over and over and over on my iPhone. Now that she has mastered the pause button and the swipe, I have thrown a little Elmo music into the mix. Pediatricians recommend limiting screen time for children under the age of 2, but 10 minutes (ok sometimes 30) never hurt anyone.

2. Pirate’s Treasure; Amount of time killed: 10 minutes
We spent a small fortune building a playroom in the basement that my child wants absolutely nothing to do with. But you know what she does love? Garbage. Playing with it, eating it, throwing things into it. You know what I love about garbage? It’s free! And it’s everywhere! All you need to do is take an empty tissue box and fill it with random scraps and crumpled paper. If you are too lazy to make your child a box of junk (no judging!) then you can use your purse instead. Warning: make sure that the “treasure chest” does not contain any potential choking hazards.

3. The Bird Feeder; Amount of time killed: 10 minutes
When you want to sit and enjoy your disco fries or greasy slice of pizza for just a few minutes longer, give this game a shot. Simply take a piece of bread or some type of chip and break it up into teeny, tiny pieces. Place on your child’s high chair tray and watch him or her take fooooorrrrreeeever to eat every last crumb. Repeat as necessary.

4. Playing House; Amount of time killed: 3-5 minutes
This game works really well for us because we never have time to put away the clothes from our laundry basket anyways. So, we leave it out and close our bedroom drawer and voila – instant good times! If you don’t have a full laundry basket, you can also leave your bottom clothes drawer open to achieve the same effect. Just make sure you monitor your child, from a reclining position of course, so that they don’t close their fingers in the drawer.

5. The Mary Poppins; Amount of time killed: the sky, or your wallet, is the limit!
Have you ever thought to yourself, I would pay a million dollars for just one more hour of sleep? Then this game is for you! It’s very possible, and likely, that none of the above activities will last long enough to cure your hangover so we highly recommend that you call in reinforcements. Don’t be ashamed to hire a babysitter for the morning after a big night out. Try and hire someone old, lame and unlikely to be in the same state you are on a Sunday morning so you can sleep easy and sleep it off.


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  1. 1

    Mary says

    Personally if they are watching video of themselves, I don’t even count it as screen time.

    My best games are “playing doctor” and hairdresser. Playing doctor involves me lying on the couch with my eyes closed while they use the toy doctor kit to give me shots, check my heart and blood pressure, etc. Hairdresser is where I sit with my eyes closed while one of my children brushes my hair (my 9 year old has moved onto french or dutch braiding my hair). As long as you hide all the scissors before you play, it’s very relaxing!

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    • 2

      Jane says

      I use these with my DD7 too. Another good lazy game is ‘guess the picture’ where we take turns lying on our stomachs while the other person draws on your back and then you try to guess what they drew. I also bought a cheap pancake maker (similar to a waffle maker) and taught my daughter how to make pancakes for herself. You still have to supervise but this can be done whilst sitting down. By the time she makes the batter, cooks several batchs of pancakes, makes up a plate each for me and her and then devours them in front of the TV you’ve killed at least a good hour. Sometimes if I make coloured bubbles (food colouring added to dish washing liquid) I can even get her to do the washing up.

      Talent show is another good one – my daughter entertains me with her latest singing/ dancing/ gymanstic routine and all i have to do is clap enthusiastically at key intervals and throw in the odd supportive comment.

      I also bribe her with pocket money to do things like rub lotion on my back, organise my shoes (this usually involves her trying them all on) and polishing my antique metal bed frame.

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  2. 3


    I have learned the art of sleep talking. I don’t even realize I’m doing it until later when I’m told about the many things I promised to do. Then I must explain that I have a sleep lying disorder and ask my kids to be understanding. It’s a good way to start teaching them about empathy and disappointment.

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  3. 4

    Kim says

    My 8 month old is crawling all over the place and is desperately trying to walk (yaaaaay early walkers #sarcasm), so when I am exhausted we play “mommy fort.” I lay on the floor with a blanket and surround and cover myself in throw pillows. It’s not the *most* relaxing time with the kid crawling all over me, but she is entertained and I get to lay down sooooo it’s a win win.

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  4. 8


    Glad I never had to try these bcz a 5-10 minute break wasn’t enough of a break for me when my son was that little!!! Mine was good w a Little Einsteins video on the extremely rare time I wasn’t jumping right up at 6am. I’ve worked FT at a law firm and been single since he was 4 mos old and I could care LESS what the ‘experts’ say as they constantly change their stances plus they don’t have my life! Funny you look around and see 2 and 3 yr olds w iPads and such- mine was 11 (this year) when I got him one- a refurbished iPad 1 and he’s just fine. Rarely uses it- forgets he has it most times He’s rarely on the computer playing games. In other words, I’ll choose how much screen time he gets bcz I’m his flipping parent and am doing fine. So this ‘expert’ isnt living my life!

    LOVE LOVE LOVE that you are trying to give parents some ideas tho!!! Keep up the good work! You have my fave page!

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  5. 17


    One thing that buys me a little bit more time is making breakfast ahead of time. I bake muffins Friday night, so I don’t have to worry about it Saturday morning. A couple muffins and a Sesame Street song playlist buys me about 30 minutes to enjoy a quiet cup of coffee.

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      • 21

        Daphne says

        Oh Michelle I get what you’re saying I really do. On this site given it’s theme and purpose I’d have said it more like this, “Sigh…I know. My days of over indulging are long gone.”

        See? No judgement and you make your point. If your point is simply to share what you do with an online community of parents in relation to a relatable post we all read. If it is in fact to throw snarky judgement out then you probably should stop reading Scary Mommy. The contributors aren’t identical but they all get it. I don’t think that you do.

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      • 23

        Erin says

        I’m 33 and rarely drink about every 6 months my husband and I go out with friends. .. I end up “sit-down drunk” I’m a Damn good mother with a very low tolerance. Nothing wrong with tying one to remember why we don’t. ..

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    • 24


      I know not to drink in excess but sometimes occasionally I’d like too, I’m pretty sure lots of other mums would,as long as my children don’t see me like that don’t see the problem yeah it is “pretty damn easy ” but having children dose not mean I have to give up my life that does them no favours these people that wrap there kids in cotton wool are just asking for a rebellious teenager

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    • 25


      I’m sorry Michelle but the only 2 reasons you wouldn’t ever have a hangover yourself are; 1) you are too lame to have any real friends to go out with and have a good time with! 2) you pretend you’re perfect and don’t need a break when in all reality you’re probably just a stuck up goody two shoes bitch in which you have no friends. I’m sorry but I have a social life and my kids are usually included in that but once a month or so I need a break and so do my kids so I go out and the kids get to hang out with grandma and grandpa. I’m sorry your life is so miserable that you feel the need to belittle people who have a better social life than you!!

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      • 26

        Mary says

        Ok, I don’t drink at all but I know how to have a good time with my friends and certainly don’t pretend I’m perfect.

        However I don’t care if someone goes out and has a good time and a few drinks. So I’ve never had to deal with a hangover but I have been exhausted and trying to deal with kids. Usually because I’ve had a cold or just stayed up too late watching a movie with my hubby.

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    • 27


      Hubby & I love our hangovers after our date nights….let’s us know we can still drink & have fun, but are now older & wiser. We are parents yes, but we are individuals & a couple and there is nothing’s wrong with having fun & drinking responsibly once in a while, or irresponsibly, if you happen to be away on a caribbean vaca without the kids!!! :)

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  6. 30


    Or how about, I now have a newborn and a two year old who’s been having consistent 4am nightmares. It’s hard to be a “perfect” parent when you’ve only managed 3.5 hours of sleep. I honestly don’t remember the last time I got drunk…..

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  7. 34


    “Family Nap” is a great one, in their beds of course. Once we gave our toddlers our old Queen bed, as we traded up to a King, taking a nap in their bed, listening to Mozart or Beethoven classical kids cd, is the best & can kill at least 2 hours!

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