Indoor Fun at Home: No Energy, No Space, No TV, No Problem

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Indoor Funemmy and mamaThis has been an exhausting year for me. I’ve spent more time than I care to admit in my comfy green chair. I didn’t want to continually resort to TV for family time. So, I had to come up with some ideas to keep us busy without adding to my exhaustion. With the following criteria in mind, I compiled a book of go to family time activities.

  1. The activity couldn’t require any energy of me, but if it wore out my kids a little, that was a bonus.
  2. No television or computers required. Like I said, we were burning out Netflix and three kids with one computer is a recipe for fighting.
  3. Nothing to purchase. We have a small house and a small budget; and I just don’t want more stuff.
  4. All Ages. These activities needed to be equally entertaining to the whole family — from toddler to adult.

This is a tall order, but I found enough to keep us busy. Now that my energy has returned and I am trying to start carrying my weight with housework and website work, my kids kind of miss these activities, so we will still be pulling them out as much as possible. This is the list of what I’ve found:

charadesCharades and Other Parlor Games:

We pretty much settled on Charades right away, but I did print out a list of other parlor games from Kid Games Central, just in case we ever get bored with Charades. For now it is the perfect family game. I can tailor the words to the age, interest and experience of the participant and, if the little ones made no sense (which was most of the time at first), I sat behind them giving my own charade hints. This way they got to participate and had fun, but we kept the game moving along. I found a list of charade words ranked by skill level on The Game Gal website. Sometimes we change it up by putting on music and playing dance charades.

Another parlor game that isn’t on this list, is Simon Says. This is a great game for multiple ages and, as long as I’m Simon, I get to sit.

 butterflyScavenger Hunts and Other Hunts.

This idea came from Edventures With Kids – Twelve Months of Scavenger Hunts. I did not end up using any of their scavenger hunts, but the idea was a good one. I find it easier to come up with a list I know the kids can find. In fact, I usually look around the house for stuff that needs picking up. That way I kill two birds with one stone.

Along the same lines, I resurrected a game my dad made up — The Dollar Pick Up Game. For this game, I look around the room for something that is annoyingly out of place. I tell the kids that whoever finds, picks up, and puts away the thing I’m thinking of wins a dollar. I have never seen my house get clean so fast and so excitedly as when there is a competitive dollar on the line. I just have to make sure that the thing I choose isn’t too obvious. This is the best game ever!

I spy is another game that can be mixed with cleaning. I needed all the help I could get.

kids laughingConversation

Creative with Kids recently published 5 Classic Conversation Games to Play With Kids. You might remember some of these from long car rides. Not all of these games work with the preschoolers, but some of them can be modified. Another fun conversation game we started playing is “Would You Rather”. You can find kid-friendly questions on Conversation Starters.


I’ve started keeping my open for family-friendly art starters. Most of my best ideas have been coming from The Artful Parent. Two of our most recent favorites have been Magazine Pictures As Drawing Prompts and Simon Says Draw.

Homework, Reading and Bible Verses

worst book everWhen in doubt, we can always fall back on the things that we should be doing anyways. I’ve learned to keep a couple books I like nearby. This way, I can pull out something we’ll all enjoy before they bring me a book like 100 Hamburgers (seriously the worst book ever made for kids and until I snuck it into a giveaway box, one we had in our collection.)

Those are the ideas I’ve come up with so far.  If you have any suggestions, I would love to add more to my binder.  Feel free to paste a link or leave an idea in the comments.


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About the author

Joy Peters

Joy Peters - co-creator and writer for

Besides Family Fun Twin Cities, I spend my 9 to 5 at a day job pursuing my weird passion for calendars and organizing things as a legal secretary. When I get home I spend my time with my four kids, 10, 6, 4 and 1. My amazing husband is both a full-time musician and full-time stay-at-home dad. Together we run a small radio empire — SiaNet Radio — playing, promoting and enjoying the wide variety of local music and art in the Twin Cities. I juggle all this while writing about exploring the Twin Cities with kids. I couldn’t be happier.

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