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

2014 was an exhausting year for me; baby number 4 really required all of my energy. I 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 for indoor fun at home without adding to my exhaustion. With the following criteria in mind, I compiled a collection of go-to activities that I could do while resting or holding a sleeping baby.

  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. 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 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 and we still pull out these games when we want a fun evening together. Note: I chose these games with the idea that no purchases should have to be made. However, this article is really about doing what you have to do to ride through low energy times while parenting. With that in mind, we have added some Amazon affiliate links to products in this article because sometimes its easier and less cluttered to just buy it. Family Fun Twin Cities receives a small commission on any sales through these links.

This is the list of what I’ve found:

Indoor Fun at Home: 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.

Not on that list is Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button? This game can be played sitting in a circle or one person can go from chair to chair.

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.

5/4/18 Addition: I really love these ideas from PBS, and they are going in my binder! The first three would translate easily to at home fun. The last one is better for car rides.

If you would prefer a book to a binder or a website, you can find books like Parlor Games: Amusements and Entertainment for Everyone that have exhaustive lists of games and their various rules.

Indoor Fun at Home: Scavenger 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. If you prefer, you can find a book of scavenger hunts.

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.


Indoor Fun at Home: Conversation Games

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 or you can just buy a Box of Conversation Starters.

Indoor Fun at Home: Art Starters

I’ve started keeping my eyes 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. This is another thing you can find in book format.

3/16/18 Addition: I stumbled on a new game recently – Surrealist Corpse. Another great all-ages game. Although a toddler will throw the game into left field, that can be its own kind of fun.

Don’t Forget Homework, Reading and Bible Verses

When 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 I hate. If you are really tired, maybe you can find a cozy place to cuddle and read. If you are too exhausted to read aloud, look at through your library’s collection of digital on-demand audio books.

Cozy reading tent? Amazon affiliate link.

More Indoor Fun:

Indoor Outings:


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