January 8, 2016 7:45 PM   Subscribe

This is an excellent and highly useful link.
posted by Artw at 7:55 PM on January 8, 2016 [10 favorites]

This author is a goddamn genius.
posted by corb at 8:00 PM on January 8, 2016 [16 favorites]

Develop various impressions that your child finds amusing, then they can play dolls next to the couch and you can provide the voices.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 8:05 PM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

Don't forget Quaker meeting! Always fun.
posted by peeedro at 8:07 PM on January 8, 2016 [31 favorites]

Oh my mom is a genius, she's done this for a while. Since I was a kid, she just has me massage her, and now I'm fairly good at it. Acupressure is a powerful life skill!
posted by yueliang at 8:11 PM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Don't forget Quaker meeting! Always fun.

This is harder to pull off when you are yourself Quaker.
posted by Cash4Lead at 8:12 PM on January 8, 2016 [11 favorites]

okay for reals, "Theater Critic," "Private Investigator," "Drawing Class," and (especially) "Alan Turing" seem like they'd be legit fun games for both players. I know as a kid if one of my parents had handed me a coded message I would have gone absolutely insane with joy trying to crack it.

When I was a kid I used to spend ages building fictional worlds using spare change. I'd lay down pennies to mark the borders of fictional countries and edges of fictional continents, quarters, nickels, and dimes to mark large and small cities, and then once I had the map set up I'd use the leftover coins to represent characters within the territories described by the map. Pennies and dimes would wield pegs from Battleship as swords and seek after orbs of ancient power (marbles). also sometimes pegs were spaceships and marbles were rare dilithium crystals. The map would change based on the actions of the characters.

In retrospect I almost resent my parents for never having given reviews of any of these stories. Maybe I should have been more of a pain in the ass — maybe if I had been pestering them all the time instead of semi-quietly playing with spare change spread across the floor, they would have hit on the idea of playing Science Fiction/Fantasy Reviewer with me.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 8:17 PM on January 8, 2016 [21 favorites]

Upon revisiting the article, I had misinterpreted "Alan Turing Adventure." don't give your kids math problems, give them actual codes! Start with rot13, maybe, and work up from there.

okay admittedly maybe this would only work with kids who are both bookish and just weird as hell
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 8:25 PM on January 8, 2016 [8 favorites]

Why, just tonight, I was suffering from terrible malady that had me on the couch for a blissful 30 minutes. The good doctor checked my blood pressure several times and administered a variety of shots to the eyes. Alas, I succumbed to my fate and was transferred to palliative care and the chef then made salad in my armpit with extra salt.
posted by stowaway at 8:43 PM on January 8, 2016 [42 favorites]

They missed sleeping dragon, where you are a dragon and your child is a brave warrior, and they have to first find you in your dragon cave (pillow fort) and then wake you (by picking up various limbs and poking your shoulder for ... I dunno, maybe thirty minutes) and then kill you. Which usually happens when you can't handle being poked anymore and you die, loudly and dramatically.

In related news, if anyone needs to wake me, the best option is definitely not going to be poking my shoulder until I wake up.
posted by MeghanC at 8:58 PM on January 8, 2016 [12 favorites]

I cherished a parenting colum with similar games that I found when my son was about 4...
My fave of that collection was "pirate ship"... In which dangerous captain is sleeping on boat/couch and brave first mate must collect items for the journey and place them in the hold (on floor next to boat/couch) very sneakily and quietly so as not to wake the garrulous captain.
posted by chapps at 9:01 PM on January 8, 2016 [13 favorites]

This seems like a lot of creative energy to expend just to say you didn't let your kids spend the entire day watching Wild Kratts.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:04 PM on January 8, 2016 [12 favorites]

My mom was the queen of these kind of games. Outside, there was Find Calvary Artifacts In the Garden, which we could only look for by "lifting up the weeds". Put The Fire Out: pretend you're a wildfire fighter fighting a fire - here's a hose, the flowers in the flower bed are the flames. She'd sit in a lawn chair with her eyes closed while we did this.

Inside, there was I'm a Librarian: alphabetize my dad's giant Louis L'amour paperback collection while she "worked the front desk" (sitting in a chair with her eyes closed) and we had to be very quiet about doing it since we were in the library. I think she had a couple of variations of this because we loved the library.

Or she'd put two chairs in front of the sofa and play two different games with us. Oregon Trail: she was a sick pioneer woman in the wagon and we had to sit very quietly driving the oxen without jostling the wagon. Or she'd ask us to "Drive Her To Town" by narrating all the things we'd see on the many miles into town while she lay down in the "backseat". We'd actually argue about who got to be in the driver's chair. Bonus: on the actual drive into town she'd get us to shut our pieholes by mentioning that if we weren't quiet and looking around we couldn't play Drive to Town very well next time.
posted by barchan at 9:10 PM on January 8, 2016 [150 favorites]

These are all good, but none are as effective as the Large Jar of Buttons, which requires a large jar of miscellaneous buttons and a surface to dump them out on. You can then safely leave up to three children to the own devices for the next two hours, because it will take at least that long to 1) sort through all the buttons, 2) pick out a set of favorite buttons, 3) trade favorites until everyone has most of the ones they want.

Then you can give them a ball of string and tell them to make button jewelry, which is good for at least another hour.
posted by nonasuch at 9:16 PM on January 8, 2016 [23 favorites]

I drew matchbox car sized roads all over one of my husband's shirts with a laundry marker, strategically locating the roads over key muscles. Now he lies on his stomach, I tell the kids, "Look! Daddy's a road!" and they drive matchbox cars along the massage-providing roads for a good half hour!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:20 PM on January 8, 2016 [64 favorites]

There is hope for the future after all, even if by the time we get around to having kids we're both entirely worn out by life. Thanks for this.
posted by limeonaire at 9:29 PM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

This is the best thing that ever was.
posted by langtonsant at 12:45 AM on January 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

Old button box/jar seconded.
posted by kinnakeet at 1:04 AM on January 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

Ahahahhah, my mom totally used to play a version of this with my high-energy niece, in which she (my mom) played the baby who had to be "put to bed" by the mommy (niece). Totally worked out for both parties!
posted by en forme de poire at 2:01 AM on January 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

It didn't really have a name or backstory, but I found that allowing my toddler to blindfold me meant I could lie down silently and just be assaulted in various ways for half an hour or so. An occasional huge groan was the only engagement I needed to provide.
posted by colie at 2:05 AM on January 9, 2016 [10 favorites]

My mom: "Simon Says be quiet."
My kids: ...
posted by Hazelsmrf at 2:13 AM on January 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

So many good ideas, keep them coming!
posted by Jubey at 2:16 AM on January 9, 2016

Oh lordy. Thank you.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:30 AM on January 9, 2016

Great climbing, bud. Now why don't you go eat some rations at base camp or something.

(I might have watched too much Archer in my life, but:) "Phrasing!"
posted by bigendian at 3:08 AM on January 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Thank you for posting this this morning. I am putting it to immediate good use.
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:02 AM on January 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Another great game, unlisted, is baby birdie where you get to be the baby birdie and you send the mama and papa bird out to get you food... Just be specific with what you want and make sure it is safe for them to reach. Also, don't rely on a 6 year old to properly measure out and stir the sugar in your coffee.
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:10 AM on January 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

Not-quite-2 babyozzy loves putting us to sleep. Also loves making us sit on the couch and bringing us "tea" and "cookies." It's about the only pause we get and it's fantastic.

This is the best article.
posted by uncleozzy at 4:41 AM on January 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Ha! These remind me of the invented lying-down games I suggested/recommended in this AskMe.

(Note: These definitely work better on toddlers. Right now my kids are both teenagers, and after having been horizontal-bound with a prolonged illness for the better part of a year, I can tell you that teenagers cannot be as easily as distracted from the fact that you are not making them food right now omg wtf is ur problem.)
posted by mothershock at 5:00 AM on January 9, 2016 [8 favorites]

mothershock: by the time we were teenagers, my mother distracted us from the fact she wasn't making us food by telling us to make our own food. This is how I discovered the deliciousness of microwave baked potatoes with cheddar cheese and cinnamon.
posted by jb at 6:24 AM on January 9, 2016 [6 favorites]

I don't know if this is a thing in Western cultures - it's not in mine, I totally swiped it from my husband - but laying on the floor and encouraging your 4-5 year old to walk on your back and practice their balance is super relaxing and doesn't require you to move. Mine's a lightweight, so I expect this to be able to continue for a good long time.
posted by telepanda at 7:18 AM on January 9, 2016 [8 favorites]

My girlfriend's mother had a related game for dinner time called "Kennedys" where everyone was assigned a Kennedy and had to pretend to be them, which mostly involved good table manners.
posted by dismas at 7:22 AM on January 9, 2016 [22 favorites]

My buddy's kid always wanted to play superheroes. He'd tear around the yard for a while, then come and try to get Dad to play. Dad would announce, "I am Stone Man," and continue sitting motionless on a deck chair, being Stone Man.

Stone Man's power is that he's impervious to all forms of attack, even the usually-devastating Dad You're Not Playing Right attack.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 7:47 AM on January 9, 2016 [24 favorites]

My version of 'Stone Man' was 'Angry Dad.' To play Angry Dad, you just sit still watching TV while the kid tries to annoy you without speaking (nobody is allowed to speak), and every ten minutes or so you just lose it and go 'RAR!', then you reset.
posted by colie at 8:26 AM on January 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

When I was very little I really, really liked bandaids and stickers and putting them on things, so my mom would have me be a doctor and apply bandages to her owies. One time she let me do this outside in the heat of summer where she was sunbathing in her bathing suit, and she fell asleep. When she woke up she discovered that I'd a) emptied every box of bandaids in the house in order to cover all of her visible skin in bandaids, and b) not alerted her to the cherry red sunburn that developed on the skin I didn't manage to access. Her tan lines were very peculiar that year.
posted by Hermione Granger at 9:18 AM on January 9, 2016 [15 favorites]

Anyone else think of the games Daria used while babysitting: Cemetery (lie perfectly still and pretend to be dead; first one to move or make a noise loses) and Lichen (you are a fungus on a tree; first one to move or drop a spore loses).
posted by carrioncomfort at 9:18 AM on January 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

My grandfather was a rockhound. He died long before I was born, but my grandmother saved his extensive collection in a number of egg cartons, and when I visited it was a guaranteed quiet time if she set me down with a few of them and a pad of paper and some colored pencils to sketch the rocks like a geologist would. It is no wonder that I now come home from hikes and vacations with pockets full of pretty stones.
posted by rtha at 9:20 AM on January 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

teenagers cannot be as easily as distracted from the fact that you are not making them food right now omg wtf is ur problem.

No, but teens /can/ be coaxed to play 'cooking contest'. "I bet you can't cook X better than I can!" *proceed to lie down on the couch and let them make X for the next hour before they are saying "Haha, I showed you!" "Yes, you definitely showed me. But I bet you can't do it AGAIN..."
posted by corb at 12:23 PM on January 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Just don't offer to give kids money when they do menial labor, or if you do, be sure you really consider how much kids can do. My father, in an effort to get us out of his hair, offered 5 cents a cigarette butt when to my sister and I while we were camping. This was back in the early 80s, at a motorcycle rally, on the last day. A lot of people smoked back then.

I don't recall how many I collected, but we got all the kids to participate and the entire campground was spotless. My dad retroactively declared he only meant from our site, and there was a herd of disappointed children. I don't think me did the math on just how much 5 cents a butt would be. Also, boy did people smoke a lot in the 80s!
posted by [insert clever name here] at 1:19 PM on January 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

When I was a teenager, I babysat for a family with two lovely kids -- a 4-year-old girl and a 7-year-old boy. The boy just loved reading, and the girl had the best imagination ever. The absolute best day I spent with them involved a game of the girl's devising: SHARKS!! The rules of the game were thus:

1. Loaf in their ginormous backyard hammock, which we stocked with juice boxes, snacks, and books.

2. Every few minutes, the Captain of the Good Ship Hammock (the four-year-old, of course) would shout "Look out! SHARK!!!" and we would all have to pull our arms and legs into the hammock until the all-clear was sounded.

3. Between shark attacks, read, sip juice boxes, eat cookies, and relax.

We played this game from about lunchtime until early evening, and it was the BEST.
posted by sarcasticah at 1:41 PM on January 9, 2016 [15 favorites]

This is how I discovered the deliciousness of microwave baked potatoes with cheddar cheese and cinnamon.

What? No.
posted by smartyboots at 2:28 PM on January 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Aw, why didn't I think of any of these 10 years ago?

I do have one sanity saving game for the purgatory that is taking your kids shopping, though. Tell them there's a "secret agent" they'll needed to spot - an old man wearing glasses and a hat, or a woman in a red jacket, two people holding hands, or someone shorter than them carrying something - whatever you know they're bound to see in about 5 minutes. You also give them a password to memorize. And when they spot the secret agent, they need to whisper the password to you. (The best passwords include words like poopy or butt.) And hey presto! You'll have your kids following you around without complaint, just scanning the crowds. Naturally, there's an infinite number of secret agents skulking around, so the mission never ends.

Oh, and there's a variation for getting a moment for yourself at the bookstore: the kids need to find a secret code. It will be a book cover with a particular thing depicted on it (a fruit, a woman's happy face, a building...). And they must find it without touching any books, because that would set off the spy alarm. And again, they'll need a password they'll need to come and tell you when they find the right book.

Worked with mine like a charm.

Also! If you're courageous enough to take your kids to a museum, they'll last a lot longer if you tell them to choose their favourite [thing, depending on the museum] in each room/space/chamber. It's weird how that simple instruction makes kids so much more interested in looking at the stuff on display. And revealing and comparing favourites - including yours - often leads to great discussions.
posted by sively at 3:17 PM on January 9, 2016 [26 favorites]

Who want to play "iPad"?
posted by gottabefunky at 5:55 PM on January 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

This is how I discovered the deliciousness of microwave baked potatoes with cheddar cheese and cinnamon.

What? No.
posted by smartyboots

Oh, yes. Don't knock it until you have tried it. (Butter, salt, pepper, grated cheddar cheese and cinnamon, all smashed into the potato. No sugar - this is a savoury dish, just like adding cocoa powder to your chilli.)
posted by jb at 8:18 PM on January 9, 2016

But I hate Wild Kratts. Even my kids are getting bored with the Wild Kratts. Even the villains who hate the Wild Kratts suck.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 8:59 PM on January 9, 2016

I got two kids who were driving us crazy to hush in the back seat of a car thusly: "Billy, count how many red cars you see. Susie, you count black cars. Keep it a secret till we get home." The secret part ensured counting quietly.
posted by IndigoRain at 11:21 PM on January 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

My mother used to coat my hands in Elmers glue because it would take me so long to pick it all off.
posted by Jacqueline at 3:54 AM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

I just played "seeing eye (talking) dog" with my 5 year old. Lie down with your eyes closed and have them describe everything that can be seen. Bonus- you can 'heal' your eyes by tickling the dog at the end of play
posted by birdsquared at 2:57 PM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

I look forward to the day that we can play more of these games. Currently, our four year old boy is a budding paleontologist (seriously obsessed with prehistoric animals of most sorts), but lacks the patience and delicacy to play this version of paleontologist. Our version is called "Dig, dig, discover," and it happens every time we get into the car.

It starts with "Hey [parent], let's play 'Dig, dig, discover!'" once we get the car out of the garage. The parent then asks "whose turn is it?", knowing that there's an 80% chance that little light thief will say "I'm on break, you go." (He picked up the idea of being on break pretty quickly, and we can't say it to him or he'll throw it back to us.) So you then say "dig, dig, discover, dig, dig, dig, discover - I found a [thing]!"

Ideally it'll be an egg or three, which you can then hatch, and then you describe the creatures that hatched. Otherwise, you can find fossils and he'll tell you if he already has one in his collection, or you can find old items (Grandpa likes finding old farm equipment, and that has been accepted to comply with little light thief's rules).

In short: no rest (yet) for the wicked.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:25 PM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

My current favorite low-energy game with the two-and-half-year-old is where I lie on the couch, knees up, with a blanket over it. Kid gets inside the tent (originally) or camper (dunno how it got upgraded) and goes camping. After a while, this gets morphed into goes hiding, first alone, then with me also covering my head. Combined with a couple toys from the play kitchen for campout cooking, this can last up to half an hour.

While laid out on the couch with strep last week, I was visited by the doctor several times. Many, many shots were given.
posted by Quasirandom at 7:45 AM on January 11, 2016

After playing toy cars with my friend's 3 year old for about an hour, I really wanted to just sit there on the couch. He then proceeded to use my body as a mountain his toy cars must summit. I highly encouraged him while being perfectly still and watching TV.
posted by numaner at 11:44 AM on January 11, 2016

I like to do easter egg hunts in the living room. 1 minute to hide the eggs, like 30 minutes for my 5-year-old to find them all. Last few I'll do hot/cold with him which of course can be done without moving.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 3:25 PM on January 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

It took me into my late twenties to realize you don't have to wait 7 minutes between pouring the rum and adding the ice, and three minutes between the ice and the coke, which must be poured as slowly as possible. It is also not necessary to measure the rum with a 3cc syringe.

I played a lot of 'bartender' for my dad and relatives.
posted by Doroteo Arango II at 9:11 AM on January 12, 2016 [10 favorites]

If you have a dog that likes the to play "find the person" you can outsource playing hide and go seek with your kid to your dog. Bonus is that it tires out the dog and, if your dog is like mine, kid hiding places (e.g. behind the living room curtain with feet poking out) are actually pretty good spots.
posted by Jaclyn at 11:16 AM on January 13, 2016

Don't feel too bad, Doroteo Arango II, I didn't realize it wasn't necessary to stir coffee 100 times after adding cream and sugar.

However, my dad also didn't realize I stirred in a fly that one time, and some cooked peas another--at least until the end of the coffee. So there's that.
posted by chapps at 4:56 PM on January 13, 2016

These are all good, but none are as effective as the Large Jar of Buttons.

I would very much like to take the day off work and play Large Jar of Buttons for hours. I even have a jar of buttons. Hmm.
posted by chapps at 4:58 PM on January 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

« Older Bet your paycheck?   |   Yowza yowza yowza Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments