I have become adept at playing while sitting or lying down.
Did you know that you have a Handosaurus? In fact, I have 2, and my 4yo has 2, which makes a whole family. To play you simply need to ‘walk’ your hand across a surface, making sure you keep your middle or index finger up in the air to be the head. Then you do silly voices. You can role play in this way for really quite a long time.
I also have a finger pirate. He (or she) takes a little more work as you need to draw a face on your finger (don’t forget the eye-patch) and then speak in pirate: ‘ha-haaar me hearties, there be buried treasure here!’ and then off she goes around the room to look for whatever item you decide is the treasure (it does help if your house is not too tidy).
We can play verbal hide and seek too. I close my eyes, she hides. I then remain lying down and wonder loudly where she might be. I suggest places and if she is silent she is not there. If she giggles I have found her. And start again. I now count in German so that she will at the very least be able to count to ten in another language. Educational and fun, see?
The trouble is (it’s confession time), I often find playing rather boring. Even if I hit upon some ingenious playing ideas (as you can see from the above, I’m quite the expert), after ten rounds of it in 10 minutes I get a bit bored. The 10th time I am the prince wondering who the princess is who has left me a slipper in my bed I want to do something else. My 4yo is rarely ready to move on when I am, and so the tough part is often not the sitting or lying down restriction but my brain, and trying to make myself sound enthusiastic and play the game for as long as she wants to, rather than as long (short) as I want to.
I don’t think I am alone in this. I see it all the time at museums that kids are playing happily and are completely absorbed and the parent or carer is attempting to move them on to the next incredibly exciting thing. I have often wondered why parents do this when their child is clearly so happy in the activity they have been taken to, but it is hard switching off your needs and focussing just on the child. And this is before we get to balancing 2 childrens’ needs at the same time.