The time after school, work and dinner can sometimes feel like a tiring march through the bedtime routine. Instead of just going to the bath right after dinner, shake up the routine and set you and your children up for a happier (and hopefully smoother) bedtime routine by getting silly and playing these classic games! It’s tempting to worry that they will get too wound up or that this will push their bedtimes too late, but often times, in the 10 minutes after dinner, you’re just cleaning up and your kids are likely playing alone or trying to get your attention anyway. Clean up after and spend the fun time together you both crave.
One of the best things about these 10 activities is that they are free and require only items you already have around the house.
Build a pillow fort using the couch
Take a throw blanket and drape it over the couch on one side and an ottoman or coffee table on the other. Take all of the throw pillows off of the couch and set up a nice cushioned area on the floor underneath your newly built fort. Make believe, tell each other stories or grab a book to snuggle up with.
Have a dessert picnic in the yard or on the patio
Any meal can be made special by going outside in the warmer months. Take a beach blanket or sheet and set it up in the yard or on the patio. If you don’t have either, even the living room floor can be a special surprise for your little ones. No need to whip up a homemade cake for this. Fresh fruit, fruit snacks, chocolate milk or yogurt can be just as great and will keep the pre-bed sugar levels manageable.
Play hide and seek
The beauty of hide and seek is that there’s literally zero set up required. Get the whole family involved and you can play this for hours. Especially with older kids.
Use a cardboard box to play “car”
If you have a toddler or preschooler, this game is sure to be a hit. Grab a cardboard box, laundry basket or tote. Load your kiddos in and start pushing it around like you’re on a race track. If you have carpet or it’s difficult to push, throw on a race track tune using, a music streaming service or YouTube and play pretend the kids are flying towards the finish line.
Kids of all ages will have a blast at this game. It’s a great way to burn off some energy before bed as well. Blast your favorite tunes and get moving. Stop the song and everyone has to freeze in place. Toddlers may struggle with the standing still part but they will have a great time dancing anyway.
This game will require more than two people so big families this one is for you. Set up a ring of chairs with one less chair than the amount of people you have. One person controls the music while the others circle around the chairs. When the music stops everyone grabs a chair as quickly as possible. The person standing without a chair is out for that round. The last one to grab the chair in the last round wins!
Have the family sit in a circle. If you don’t actually have a potato, chose any item that’s light and soft enough to throw. With one person controlling the music, those seated in the circle pass the item around until the music stops. Whoever is left holding the item when the music stops is out. Those remaining go on to the next round until there’s only one person left.
This is an easy game to play in the front yard, on the patio or looking out of a window. You and the kiddos can take turns spying different colored cars, animals, people wearing hats and so on.
Bounce balls on a sheet
Using a large sheet place a couple of balls in the center. Everyone grabs an end of the sheet and bounces the balls up in to the air. Smaller children will especially get a kick out of seeing the balls bounce everywhere. If you have another adult, each of you holds an end and have your little one run under the sheet for some extra fun.
Take a walk
Talking a simple walk around the block doesn’t have to take longer than 10 minutes. If you have time and are enjoying yourselves go a little longer. Don’t go crazy packing snacks and drinks like you’re going on a road trip. Just literally grab any essentials if you’re setting out with a baby for example and go! Using a stroller, bike, scooter or wagon is just fine too. If you have a family dog, this is a great way to get them out and include them on the fun.