‘Calmhousing’ and other genius play tips for stir-crazy kids

Oct. 27, 2020

Shouting and bouncing off the walls with energy is normal kid behavior even during the best of times. But several months into a pandemic, kids have fewer outlets, so their bouts of play-fighting and running through the house are at an all-time high. Luckily, one Reddit parent has a creative solution for that. It’s called “calmhousing,” and her smart tip for de-escalating playtime is inspiring parents and caregivers online to share creative hacks for getting energetic kids to take it down a notch.

“My kids (boys ages 6 and 3) are wild animals,” the Reddit poster writes. “They constantly ask me if we can roughhouse. I was exhausted yesterday and just blurted out, ‘Can we please just try some calmhousing for once?’ They both found this gut-bustingly hilarious and agreed to give it a try!”

The parent explains that “calmhousing” is exactly like normal wrestling games kids play, but they have to do it “slower, gentler and quieter.” They add, “In practice, it basically amounts to my boys laying on the ground hugging each other while they whisper jokes into each other’s ears. I could get used to this.”

Couldn’t we all? Other Redditors were thrilled at the suggestion of a quieter, more slowed down form of playtime, especially when it still allows their little ones to giggle and have fun together. 

“I've always encouraged roughhousing up to a point, as I genuinely think it's a good bonding experience, but I'm going through a couple of medical issues and just don't have the energy for it,” one person writes. “I've been wondering how to avoid taking away this aspect of our play. I am definitely going to suggest some calmhousing!”

As the discussion flowed on Reddit, several people suggest “slow-mo” dancing, fighting and wrestling. “It’s basically all the same moves in roughhousing, but they have to do it in slow motion like the cool parts of a movie,” one Reddit user explains.

Others say energy-burning games are the key. “We do a lot of jumping and ‘floor is lava’ games, which helps get their sillies out,” one parent writes. “Get blue painter’s tape and draw out Xs on the floor. They have to hop from one to the next on one foot, two feet, hands on their head, holding hands, etc.”

The quiet game is another popular suggestion for all ages. “Stay silent and still for 6.5 minutes (or one minute for each year [of age]), and then, they get to jump up and down and make all of the noise they want for 30 seconds,” a Reddit user explains. “Then, it starts all over again.”

For younger kids, one parent offers a creative spin on bath time: dry baths. “I just sat [my 3-year-old] in the bathtub with her toys while I sat there next to her to keep her penned in for a few moments of peace,” they write.

If you’ve been worried about how to keep bored kids from causing chaos, you definitely aren’t alone. Research shows that most kids are participating in fewer activities right now because of limited extracurricular activities and the lack of physical education in school. And while walks or playing outside in the backyard can help, this bustling Reddit thread is proof that lots of parents are struggling to keep kids from kicking down the walls right now.

As we head into colder winter months, it will likely get even harder to figure out new ways to keep kids occupied. Many Redditors recommend making note of several of the ideas being shared, and changing it up whenever kids start to get too used to one method of play. As one parent writes, “Variety is the spice of life. Kids love new ideas and new ways of doing things. The trick is to plan ahead, and have your next bit of novelty ready for when this one runs out.”

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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