Red Tent Survival Guide: 8 Ways To Entertain Your Kids When You’re Tired As All Hell

This post could alternatively be titled Days From Hell – 7 Ways To Survive Your Kids. Or, likewise, How To Do Stuff With Your Kids Without Actually Doing Stuff With Your Kids.

In those early days with Billy, when I didn’t sleep for longer than 15 minute intervals for three months (I still have a visceral repulsion at the memory), exhaustion became my new baseline and coffee my greatest ally. To say I could barely think straight was to say that the sky is blue, and I quickly developed ways to occupy my kids without putting in much effort, because let’s be honest – anything past showering was just an unfathomable mountain to climb.

In parenting, we all have days that stretch for eternity. Days when coffee doesn’t touch us and we sink thick into fatigue, boredom and dullness. Here are 7 tricks to whip out on the especially tiresome days. Little munchkins, we love you, but goodness GRACIOUS you are the greatest challenge to our energy levels we’ve ever come across.

1. Butchers paper is your friend. Treat it with the holy reverence it deserves. Paints, pens, nail polish – roll out a huge strip of butchers paper, sticky-tape it to the floor and let your kids go to town. Put your feet up and don’t worry about supervising them too much. There will be mess, but this little activity buys you 20 minutes of peace, and afterwards you can simply roll up the used paper and chuck it away.


2. Beauty Make-Over. Look, this will go pear-shaped. You will look like Madonna during her bad years. There will be mess. But you can clean it up later, okay? I’m promising you 15 minutes of peace here, so take it alright? Revisit point number one. Roll out a big strip of butchers paper, lie down on it and tell your kids they can go to town on your face. Don’t give them the MAC lippie though. That’s like the holy grail of lipsticks. It’s not to be wasted.


3. Road Trips. Just jump in the car, see where you end up. Give them games like who can spot any aeroplanes, or any red cars, put some good music on, wind the windows down and pretend you’re scaling the Great Ocean Road with a fancy dinner at the end of your destination and definitely no children. If you’re really lucky, they might just doze off, too, which will be an extra bonus.


4. O-U-T-S-I-D-E. Repeat after me (sing it to the tune of Respect). O-U-T-S-I-D-E. Look, I know it’s the last thing you feel like. (Walking??? I’m sorry, what???) But listen, the hardest thing is just getting out the door. Just do it. Move your legs and usher the kids out- neighborhood walks, playground visits, ocean swims, set them free outside to make their own fun and they’ll pester you less with demands for food and water and entertainment. Besides, the fresh air is always a good pick- me-up.


5. Visit friends with kids. This will always be energizing no matter how tired you are. The kids can (mostly) entertain each other and you can take turns napping with your girlfriend, or at least spend the shared time complaining about the state of your exhaustion and planning a girls night off.


6. Give them free reign over something they’re not usually allowed to do on their own, like cooking preparation. Put out flour and water and sultanas and whatever else you can find and let them ‘cook’ on their own. Sure, there’s gonna be a heap of mess, but that 20 minutes of peace is worth it. See point one.


7. Technology. We don’t have a television at home, so movies and programs on our iPad are a real treat to Ella and something I whip out when I’m super tired. It’s totally fine to plonk them in front of a movie on the bad days while you go and recharge yourself (or pretend you are sunning yourself in the Maldives with an unlimited supply of frozen margaritas).


8. Call for help. Utilize your support network and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Neighbours, grandparents, siblings, friends, ask if they can entertain your kids for an hour so you can have a break. An hour can make all the difference, and a happy mama equals happy children.



Happy Wednesday, friends. We’re on the homeward stretch!

10 Responses to “Red Tent Survival Guide: 8 Ways To Entertain Your Kids When You’re Tired As All Hell”

  1. Life, kids and a glass of red

    I’m totally going to be singing O-U-T-S-I-D-E to the tune of Respect now! Great tips, especially with the school holidays almost upon us. The roll of butchers paper from Ikea is going to be getting a work out!

  2. Eve

    Can’t wait till the boys are big enough for all of these. Till then I may be locking keys in cars preventing me from point 5.
    No doubt this time will be here before I know it though.

  3. Tumble Tastics

    A lovely post and I have been there in those incredibly exhausted moments and tried to entertain my overly active kids. Plenty of creative baking, makeup play and butchers paper! Just dont fall asleep when they find the marker pens…. lesson learnt


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