Often the best cure for many parenting issues, behaviour problems, bad attitudes, and sibling relationship dramas is one simple idea: FUN.
It takes a little bit of effort to think of fun activities, but luckily kids love repetition so once you discover one they love just reuse it again and again!
Here are ten of our favourites. Some of these kids’ activities are useful ways to make boring tasks (ones the kids usually moan about!) a bit more fun and others are just fun for the sake of it!
Fun activities for kids that make chores easy!
- Clothing spinner
I came across this idea when Lula was 4 and having a LOT of trouble getting dressed in the morning for Kindy. She would moan every day, get half dressed and then strip off again, or just get completely overwhelmed and melt into a crying mess on the floor. (My Lula is a highly sensitive child like I posted about in Is your child a Highly Sensitive Person and gets overwhelmed easily. Hopefully your child handles getting dressed better.) So when I found this little fun idea I was so excited.
All you need is your hand and your child’s clothes for the day. Pretend to spin an invisible spinner (like one of those prize wheels) on your hand. Make a noise for more fun, and then tap your hand as if stopping the spinner and call out a clothing item: “socks!” Your child then quickly puts on that item.
It works incredibly well and it’s so easy!! This fun little game saved me a lot of time and drama in the morning.
2. Steal the dishes
My parents actually used to play this with my sisters and I and it was a highlight of our childhoods. No, really! It represented one of the many ways my single dad (parenting three girls on his own for quite a while) injected a bit of silly fun into our day. One of his sayings was “You’ve gotta have e-nuf fun”
So when he wanted us to help with the dishes he would make it a game. One of the games involved the person drying pretending to be a robber stealing the dishes. If they managed to clear the dish-rack before the washer could fill it, they won.
Another simple dish washing game was called “Reject”. The aim was to catch the washer out. If they left any food on a dish, the dryer yelled “Reject” and popped it back into the sink. These are super simple games, but it really doesn’t take much to make something fun for kids.
3. Pretend to be a robot
I used this one quite a lot when my kids were smaller. You can use it two ways: either you pretend to be a robot, or your kids can while you programme them.
I often used ‘Robot Mum’ to get the kids to do chores like picking up their toys or grabbing laundry from their rooms, and for some reason they listened to me so much more as a robot than when I was just me. Strange but true! All I had to do was put on a robot voice and, just like that, chores were done.
Kids also love pretending to be robots. They will do all sorts of chores with you programming them step by step. “Bend down, pick up the teddy, stand up….” It’s a slow way to do it but a bit of fun for a change.
4. Time me
Most children are less reluctant to help tidy up if they know there is a set time limit to the cleaning. Simply saying “I’m going to set the timer for 5 minutes and let’s see how much we can clean up together in that time,” or “Let’s see who can tidy away 20 things fastest!” can be enough to motivate most children.
Another way to add a bit of fun to tidying is to play Find The Mystery Object. Pick one or two things that need cleaning up and say “I have picked two secret objects in this room. If you tidy them up, you win!”
Silly activities with kids that are just for fun
5. Wake up, Daddy
Or Mummy! Pretend to sleep and when they wake you up grab them, chase them or make a silly face! They’ll love it.
6. My friend, Wormy
Create a character with your wiggling finger or your hand. Give it a name. I’ve used wormy to pretend to tickle my kids, which sets them off giggling without ever actually being tickled (I’m not super keen on tickling really). My sister uses a character she created with her hand to talk about tricky subjects with her daughter and to make her laugh.
7. Floor is lava
I’ve just started playing this lately with Little and Lula! It’s so much fun. I randomly call “Floor is lava!” when we are out (or at home) and they have to find a way to get off the floor as quickly as possible.
8. Bed monsters
My kids love this silly game. I make the bed while they are in it pretending I haven’t noticed they are there. I comment on how lumpy it is or say things like “There must be giggly monsters in my bed!” I try to smooth them out or pat them down. It doesn’t get the bed made, but it’s fun.
We used to play this one after reading a book like The Little Yellow Digger which is great for girls as well as boys. I would pretend to be various construction vehicles and roll, dig, pat and flatten out the children while they giggled hysterically.
My kids wanted to include this one for you. They told me one of their favourite silly games was to be chased by their dad, carried to the bed and stacked up like sandwiches with either toys or each other! He would say “There’s the bread, now the lettuce… yum yum yum” and pretend to eat them up.
Why fun is so important for kids (and you)
It has been well recognised for many years in the scientific community that laughter is good for us. It reduces stress, strengthens immune systems, reduces pain, builds social bonds, and has a number of psychological benefits.
Being a playful parent can reduce a lot of behaviour problems too. Sometimes children need firm boundaries but often a playful, light approach can prevent full tantrums, chase off bad attitudes and helps build a close relationship with your child. Your relationship is crucial! A strong positive relationship is the basis for your child’s behaviour and development.
Play, whether with you or on their own, is also incredibly important for children. To read more about what play does for your child (from language development to increased empathy) you can head over to an article I wrote for parenting magazine Tots to Teens Playing Up.
Other ideas to have fun and be silly with your kids
I had a little hunt and found some more simple silly activities for you.
Get the Giggles: 10 fun ideas to get preschoolers laughing at Tots to Teens (written by me!)
15 Ways to be Silly with your kids at Rediscover Families
Silly and Fun Challenges at It’s All Kid’s Play
15 Simple ways to help make chores fun for kids at Truparenting
7 Best Tips for Roughhousing with kids at The Military wife and mom
The Art of Roughhousing by Anthony DeBenedet
Playful Parenting by Lawrence J. Cohen PH.D
Have you found something your children love to do? Comment below. I’d love to hear your ideas. You can join me on Pinterest for more ideas to delight your kids. And remember to subscribe to get all the latest posts and offers!
Until next time,