Does being playful and silly come naturally to you?
It didn’t to me. Not at first. I’m getting better at it now though.
My children are all very active and full of energy. Their extreme enthusiasm would leave me becoming more serious as I felt like I needed to keep the balance in the family so we don’t turn to utter chaos.
But a while ago, we suffered a loss in our family and it truly reminded me how short life is. And the way “normal” life got turned upside down by the COVID-19 situation further drove this home.
I have made it my personal goal to enjoy life as much as possible and to cut loose with my kids as best as I can.
We do have an important job in shaping our children, but I want to have fun while doing it.
I made a list to help me transition from that serious mama to a more silly, playful mama. And over time, I kept adding to that list. Today, I added a few last ones to round it up to the nice “100” number and I’m sharing it with you.
I hope it helps you as much as it has helped me!
No Matter What Age Your Kids Are…
This first section of ideas should work no matter what age your kids are –
- Have water fights. You can do this in the bathroom during your daily routine or go all out with water guns and drench each other on the front lawn.
- Let your child give you a makeover. They can do your hair, make up, and even paint your nails.
- Jump in leaves together.
- Have a dance off between you and your children – no special occasion necessary.
- Alternately, dance your difficult emotions away. Whenever you or your child is angry or upset, grab them and start dancing.
- See who can make the loudest noises with their armpits. Or fake-farts. Or burps. A little gross, but believe me, almost every child loves this!
- Jump on the trampoline together.
- Cook/bake together and don’t worry about the mess. That’s half the fun!
- When done, sing the cleanup song in a whacky tone (if you have little ones) or pop in a favorite CD (with bigger kids) and have fun cleaning up the mess together.
- Play in the rain together.
- Make up a cheer together to encourage one another. Be sure to add hand motions and movements for an extra giggle.
- Have a pillow or stuffed animal fight.
- Let your kids stick their faces out the window (like dogs do) while in the car.
- Point out different shapes in the clouds and make up stories about them. We do this a lot while lying on our trampoline. You could also do this while driving.
- Wash your car together the old-fashioned way with bucket, soap and dish towels. While you are at it, get each other wet and have a blast.
- Ride bikes together and have a race.
- Jump in mud puddles together. Don’t forget to wear old clothes.
- Rough house with your children. Just be safe.
- Go play in a creek and skip rocks together.
- Throw a ball with your kids whether it be a football, baseball, or shooting hoops with a basketball.
- Hula hoop or jump rope together.
- Find a favorite quote or verse that talks about love and fill in your child’s name within it. Then be sure to make a big production at random when you quote it to them. They’ll feel loved and laugh all at the same time.
- Memorize a few jokes that will make your kids laugh (Google is your friend!)
- Make up stories and tell them to each other.
- Schedule fun day trips to the zoo, museums, or other places your kids like to visit to break up the repetitiveness of the daily routine. (If you are in the lock down mode, take long drives instead!)
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- Have a laughing contest. Sure, it starts out with fake laughs, but soon you’ll all be giggling until your stomach is in stitches.
- Make a game to see who can find the most spare change while out in public. Remember ‘find a penny pick it up all day long you’ll have good luck?’ Kids love the excitement and thought of having a good day because they found a penny.
- Watch funny/silly YouTube videos together.
- Draw a fake mustache on your face (and your kids’ faces too if they want) and talk with a gruff, grumpy voice all evening.
- Make up fake “family traditions”. For example: “Oh gosh I almost forgot… According to our family tradition on a child’s [current age of child]-th birthday, we celebrate the date every month instead of once a year. Presents and party are on your actual birthday, but every month you get [cupcake / donut / ice cream / your child’s favorite food] on the date of your birthday”. Or, “Your great-aunt left us an inheritance when she died, but stipulated that on the 5th of each month we can only eat things that are red in color since it was her favorite. Come help me figure out a menu”
- All year long, plan April 1st pranks that you will pull on all the members of your family.
- Declare certain days of the week or month as “breakfast for dinner” or “reverse dinner” (desert first, main course next, appetizer at the end) nights and have fun planning and executing them!
- Figure out what it is that makes your kids laugh and do those things often.
- Play board games, cards, etc. with your kids. Choose funny games to get everyone laughing. Or change the rules up every so often to keep things fun.
- Participate with them in their extra-curricular activities. For example, take art classes with them, when you take them swimming get in the pool, or you could play with them whatever sport they’re into at the moment.
- Build something together. It can be made from Legos or even a life size project like a treehouse.
- Have a foot race. Or a lemon-on-the-spoon race. Or a 3-legged race. In the kitchen. Or in the backyard. Or in the hallway. As long as everyone has fun, it’s all good.
- Take a nature walk together and see what kind of interesting items you can find.
- Participate in events and activities that your child is a part of. For instance, if your child is a brownie or a scout maybe you could be a troop leader.
- Ride paddle boats, kayaks, or john boats together. It requires team work and funny things usually happen when trying to figure out how to work together in those instances.
- Play with your kids first thing. Who doesn’t wake up on the right side of the bed when they get to start the day doing what they love?
- Eat ice cream together. Better yet, make ice cream together.
- Go to a U-pick farm and pick whatever fresh fruit is in season. It is usually a fun experience and a great time for your kids to learn different things about the world around them.
- The next time you want pizza for dinner, make it! Then your kids can actually build their own pizza. And no matter how much it squicks you, let them add whatever bizzare ingredients they want to. You can do the same things with sundaes and Mexican food too!
- Do you have a hill you could borrow for an afternoon? If so, place a huge tarp on it and add some dish soap and water hose. You can have your own slip-n-slide. Just be safe!
- Make your own DIY shoes together. All you need are the canvas style shoes and some paint. We did this as kids and it was so much fun.
- Make popsicles together. You can create whatever flavor you want. You can use popsicle molds or just use a paper cup and a popsicle stick.
- Help your kids start a collection. It can be something as simple as rock and feathers. Or something more extravagant like dolls, coins, or stamps.
For Parents with Little Kids
- When you’ve said the same thing 50 times and feel like yelling it, sing it instead. Preferably in a really high opera style voice or in tune of your child’s favorite jingle or something funny and unexpected!
- Practice funny facial expressions in the mirror. That way when your kids are driving you batty, you can meet them with a funny expression instead of a hot temper.
- Play rhyming games in the car. Remember the Name Game? (Banana fana bo Hannah fe fi fo Anna…)
- Make funny faces at each other and see who can go the longest without laughing.
- Play make believe together but let your child decide what you are pretending.
- Don’t just ask them to “go play”… join them for an impromptu game of tag or hide-and-go-seek! Want to make this even more fun? Turn the tag into a game of “Catch the Turkey” where your kids are turkeys and you are a hunter and thanksgiving is coming up. Or let them be aliens, or monsters, or dinosaurs and have them chase you around. Or find where you are hiding.
- Make sock puppets or just use your hand as a puppet when relaying messages (especially messages that your children may not be receptive to.)
- Pick flowers (or weeds) together and then bring them home to make a beautiful center piece for everyone to see.
- Shape their food into fun-shapes whenever possible. It’s simple to arrange fruits and veggies in the form of funny faces or flowers. You never know… this may even get them to polish off all their veggies and fruits without complaint.
- Play eye-spy on daily car trips.
- Have a tea party together.
- Build a blanket fort in the living room and then climb in it to read together. To make it even more fun, use torch light for reading. My youngest loves this!
- Honk your horn from time to time (only when it’s safe) while driving to get a giggle out of your kids.
- Play with your child on the swing set or at the park. Going down the slide together usually produces a lot of laughter.
- Have a staring contest. For whatever reason, it always makes you want to laugh.
- Have a tickle fest (make sure first that this doesn’t bother your kids and they actually like it!)
- Play with bubbles. You can turn this into any number of games — a competition of who can make the biggest, who can burst the other persons bubbles fastest and so on.
- Turn on the sprinklers (or use a water hose) and let your little ones run through it.
- Build a tall tower of building blocks and knock it down. Again and again and again. Laugh with them or do the opposite — cry in an exaggerated, theatrical way every time they knock the tower down.
- Use any metal plates, utensils, vessels you have to make an impromptu sound band. Kids love banging on stuff and making noise… instead of telling them to keep it down, provide them the supplies and join right in.
- Finger paint. Get messy right alongside with your kids. Lay down a plastic sheet or an old blanket first to make cleanup a breeze.
- Make animal noises at the end of every sentence you speak. For instance, “Kids it’s time for dinner, quack quack”. “Pass me the peas please, ruff ruff”. “Would you like more water, mooooooo”
- Be goofy while dressing up… wear your socks on hands, underwear on the head and so on. For whatever reasons, little ones find this hilarious!
- Blow raspberries on their tummies.
- Give them a horsie ride or a piggy-back ride. Go very fast or be very slow and make exaggerated sounds of exhaustion about how heavy they are… whatever gets the giggles.
- Hold them tight under their arms and twirl/spin them around. Or hold their hands in yours and spin around singing “Ring around the rosies…”
- Do you have a child learning to read? Well, make it fun by playing ‘shoot the sight word.’ You do this by writing the sight words on the board and then let your child shoot a word with a Nerf Gun. Then tell you what word they shot.
- Make a trip to the library and check out a bunch of favorite books. Then go home, grab a blanket, and spend the day reading to each other.
- Trying to help you child learn their abc’s? Then play a fun game. You go down the alphabet and name a food you find at the grocery store that begins with each letter. But each person has to repeat what the others have listed. It helps your memory too!
- Put on a play together for the rest of the family.
- In the middle of laundry? Well, that’s no reason not to have fun. Let your little one learn how to sort. Give them multiple baskets and let them sort the socks by colors. My kids always found this to be so much fun.
- Help your child set up a lemonade stand.
- Make a homemade bird feeder. You can cover a pine cone in peanut butter and birdseed and hang them outside so you can watch local birds. Or you can even create a neat hummingbird feeder with sugar water. (Pinterest is your friend!)
- Make sand art together.
For Parents with Big Kids
- Make up knock-knock jokes. See who can be the most clever/funny.
- Have theme days and stick with it. For example, if it is a “Pirate day” everyone has to speak like pirates that day. If it is a “Shakespeare day”, oh beware, thou shalt only use thine Shakespearian English.
- Crank up the radio and have a jam session together while out running errands.
- Don’t forget the food when you are hanging out with your kids (especially with teenagers.) Indulging in favorite foods, especially guilty pleasures like extra rich chocolate or ice cream is so much fun when you have company!
- Have a water balloon fight!
- Create a scrap book together to hold all of the memories of the fun things that you all do together. It will make a great keepsake too. (Or, check out the Connected Hearts Journal Sumitha has put together which is part memory journal, part conversation log and part fantastic parenting tool)
- Have a themed movie night. If you have boys, have a James Bond or Star Trek Marathon. If you have girls have a chick flick marathon. If you have a mix, take turns or go for themes such as “funny movies”, “action movies”, “dramas” or “sci-fi” etc. Be sure to have popcorn and blankets to snuggle up in! (And if you want to turn this into a learning experience, here is a list of 25 Of The Best Family Movies For Teaching Honesty, Grit, Courage & More)
- Find out what kind of games your kids like to play on the phone, touchpad or console. And then Google to learn a few tricks, master the game, challenge them to it and beat them at it (Or, invite them to teach it to you!) Kids are so used to parents shouting at them for playing that they will welcome this change of pace!
- Tell you kids about some of the goof-ups you did and the trouble you got into when you were a tween or teen. Get comfortable being vulnerable and laughing about it. Share your stories and invite them to share theirs.
- Pull out those old photographs of you in your bell bottoms and afro haircuts. And have a good laugh over it together.
- Pull out their baby photographs. Remember some of the funny and cute things they did. Tell them about it and have a good laugh together. (Remember, gentle ribbing is fine. But if they seem sensitive about something, back off and make sure you are not shaming/embarrassing them!)
- Play the game ‘telephone.’ It usually has a really funny outcome and it helps both you and your child learn to listen.
- Make a YouTube channel together. You can use fun apps to make funny versions of old songs together. Then post them on your YouTube channel and share them with your friends and family. (And no worries, you can set your channel to private to help eliminate some of the cyber risks.)
- Aren’t into YouTube? That’s okay. Pull out your cellphone and video a dance routine that you put together. We did this as kids, and I love watching those videos now!
- Take your kids out on ‘dates.’ It gives them special time just with you and if you have a tween or teen this is also a good time to talk about the dating scene before they enter it. But make it fun! Get dressed up and make it very special.
- Volunteer together. It is a great opportunity to teach your children the importance of helping others.
- Visit your own town. Park downtown and just start walking. You will be surprised at all of the little restaurants, ice cream shops, bakeries, and stores that you never realized were there.
- Have you seen those funny memes about text messages between parents and kids? Pull up a few of those and read it with your teens and laugh it up!
So there you have it. 100 ideas to be playful and silly with kids.
Did I miss any? Do you have any other goofy, silly, funny, playful ideas?
I’m sure you do! Let me know in the comments below. I’m always on the lookout for new ways to lighten up!