Bored Playing with Toddler? 10 Ideas to Make It Fun

Do you find yourself bored playing with toddler or another aged child? 

You’re not alone. We’ve all been there.

I don’t have energy to play with my toddler

I hate playing pretend with my kid

Play is important – it helps them discover and learn about the world. But sometimes they want to play with you when you’re exhausted or just bored. 

So what’s a mom to do? We’ve got some tried and true methods for interacting when you feel bored playing with toddler. Plus, some info about the importance of playing with your child. 

Let’s dive right in. 

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How Can I Play Better With My Kids?

Play may not come naturally for some parents. It can feel silly or even boring. Luckily, playing with kids can actually be pretty easy and with an open mind you might even have fun too.

If you’re struggling, here are some tips for playing with your child:

1| Follow Their Lead

Sit back and let your child drive. Child directed play is great for their development. It can also be easier as a parent to just go with the flow. You don’t have to be the entertainment, just go along for the ride.  

2| Relax

As an adult, pretend play might make you feel ridiculous. This self consciousness can make it harder to play with your child. Take a breath and let yourself relax. It’s ok to feel silly, it’s ok to be silly. 

3| Ask Questions

If you’re stumped with how to play, ask your child open ended questions. Think of play as a conversation and keep your child talking. Just be sure you’re really listening to the answers.

4| Give Them Your Full Attention

Put the phone away and give your child your undivided attention while playing. No one likes when the person they’re trying to connect with is distracted, checking their phone, or simply tuned out, and kids are no exception. They notice when we aren’t engaged. 

5| Set A Time Limit

Obviously, you can’t maintain complete concentration indefinitely so it may help to set aside a specific amount of time, like 15 minutes each day, to fully focus on your child and play. Make a reasonable goal that you can manage even when you’re super busy. This will help keep you from getting distracted and can make it more enjoyable since you know there’s an end in sight.

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Mom sitting on couch and bored playing with toddler

10 Fun Ideas for Play When You’re Bored Playing With Toddler

Playtime should be enjoyable. If you’re tired and bored – then pretend play isn’t working out. Try and find other fun ways to play!

Don’t beat yourself up, there are plenty of other ways to connect with your child. Perhaps you’ll even find that there’s another type of play that you both love doing together.

Here are a few ideas when you find yourself bored playing with toddler or older child:

1 |  The Floor is Lava

Kids of all ages can appreciate this classic! Show them how to place pillows, arrange furniture, and jump around – all while trying to get from point A to point B without touching the floor.

It’s fun for both of you. Only downside is that it can make a bit of a mess.

2 |  Puzzles

If you enjoy puzzles, get some that are a little past your child’s ability and work together to complete it.

We absolutely LOVE this boss dogs puzzle because parents can help separate the individual sections while your child puts them together.

READ  The Ultimate Guide to Busy Toys: Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers

Mom playing hide and seek because of the importance of playing with your child

3 |  Hide & Seek

This game needs no introduction and is truly one of my favorites when I find myself bored playing with toddler. 

Mainly because I can hide somewhere and check my phone guilt-free for a minute before letting myself be found by my child. Plus, sometimes toddlers find the most ridiculous, or even ingenious, hiding spots that make me burst out in laughter. 

4 |  Play-Dough

Chanel your inner kid and get those hands messy!  Playing with play-dough can be a enjoyable sensory experience for all.

While it’s super fun, it can also get messy when the different colors mix. Because of this, it was featured on our most annoying toys list.

READ  The 12 Loudest and Most Annoying Toys of 2021

Mom and dad playing blocks with child

5 |  Build Something 

Start by choosing your building medium – magna tiles, legos, and blocks are all great options.

Then brainstorm what you all want to build together. A robot? The Burj Khalifa? A city you visited on vacation?

Then work together to create your masterpiece. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect – it’s the play itself that’s important.

6 |  Board Games (that are actually fun)

Believe it or not, there are board games young children can play that are actually fun for grownups too!

I prefer cooperative games when I play with my kids. Then we can all work together and I don’t have to worry about tears when someone isn’t winning.

Here are a few of our favorites:

Dinosaur Escape | For ages 4-5

Great cooperative option for the younger crowd when you find yourself bored playing with toddler. Players work together to rescue dinosaurs from the island before the volcano erupts. It introduces easy counting spaces and simple memory concepts. 

Race to the Treasure! | For ages 5-6 

This is perfect for a child’s first “real” board game as it requires some strategy rather than just being purely luck (like Hi Ho Cherry-O or Candy Land). Players work together by using tiles to create a bridge and collect items to reach the treasure before the evil ogre. 


Outfoxed is the perfect game when you're bored playing with toddler

Outfoxed! | For ages 5-9 

This has been one of our family favorites for years! Players work together to learn the identity of the fox who stole the pie. They use a secret and fun “clue decoder” to rule out suspects. You can change the rules around slightly to make it easier or more challenging.

Forbidden Island | For ages 8+

In this ‘2010 Mensa Favorite Brainy Games Winner’ cooperative game, players work together to uncover sacred treasures and escape from the island before it sinks. Each player has its own special ability and it requires higher level problem solving skills. Since it’s cooperative, adults can help children while they are still learning to play. This game is so popular they came out with a similar game called Forbidden Desert

Pictionary  | For all ages (with modifications)

Ok this might not technically be a “cooperative” game, but it’s one that can be played casually so everyone is working together. By changing up the play a bit, this concept of drawing and guessing can be enjoyed by adults and children of all ages. 

7 | Go “Camping”

Make a fort out of blankets and sheets and go “camping”.

Read books and have snacks for a fun-filled afternoon that will fly by.

Two kids playing in the mud

8 |  Get Outside

It’s practically a scientific fact that going outside can cure mild blues and boredom. 

It can be something simple like going to the park or on a nature walk. 

Or maybe today is the day you put them in those old play clothes with the holes and let them go to town when playing in the mud. 

Go swimming at your local community center, play soccer, or go buy a new flower to plant outside – the possibilities are endless!  

9 |  What’s Missing?

This is such a simple game that kids love (plus it helps develop their visual memory!). 

Start by collecting three toys and having your child look at them. Tell them to close their eyes and remove one of them. Then ask them, “which toy is missing?”.  If they get it right, increase it to four toys. 

A similar game we play is “guess the toy”. I grab a toy and have them feel it under the blanket (without looking at it) to guess which one it is. Kids LOVE this one and it’s super simple. 

10 |  I-Spy

Another oldie but a goodie that can be played anywhere, at any time, with no set up required. 

For a portable version that can be played in the car, pick up a seek-and-find book such as this dinosaur version or this unicorn one

Mom playing with daughter under a tent

Why Is It Important to Play With Your Child?

Playing with your child can have many benefits!

For starters, you’ll further build the relationship with your little one. It will also help them learn how to interact and form these connections with other children.

Play will also help encourage their motor development and critical thinking skills. Kids learn best by exploring and experiencing the world around them. Anything you can do to encourage that is a bonus!

And finally, there are many health benefits to staying active and playing (for both you and your child). Moving around keeps your brain and body happy.

Toy box with foreign writing on it

Wrapping up the Importance of Playing with Your Child

We really hope you found this resource helpful and you were able to pick up a few ideas to utilize when playing with your child.

Keep in mind that at the end of the day, if you aren’t the type of parent who actively plays with your kids – that’s totally OK. You’re still an awesome parent. Giving lots of love and keeping them safe is what is truly important.

In fact, allowing them to play independently helps to develop their creativity. Letting them be bored for a little and learn to entertain themselves is a necessary life skill.

So next time you find yourself bored playing with toddler, hopefully you can pull out a few of these ideas!

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About Author

Jo & Rachel

Jo and Rachel first had the idea for 'The Moms At Odds' in 2016 when our babies were turning 2 and we realized that we were very different parents.

As a mom, Rachel immediately felt this strong connection to her son and instantly decided she wanted to become a stay-at-home mom. Though Jo obviously loved her son as well, she counted the days until she could go back to work and interact with other adults.

They both struggled over getting their babies to sleep and while Jo believed in sleep training, Rachel looked for alternatives like dream feeding and no cry methods. As time passed and their children grew older the differences started to really add up – pacifier use, drinking during breastfeeding, organic foods, screen time, diaper brands, and on and on.

During this day and age, it’s so easy to look at our parenting differences as a bad thing. After all, we’ve all seen jokes and articles about “Mommy Wars” over one subject or another. Instead, we choose to embrace our differences and show you that in many areas there is no wrong answer. What works for one family may not work for another, and that’s perfectly fine. We can still all get along and raise perfectly healthy, beautiful children.

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