Inside this post, I’ll share exactly how to grab a few things around the house to get your kids to play together without fighting.
Need some fun play ideas??
You’ve got it, friend. Let’s dive in!
Spoiler alert: my kids don’t always get along.
Here’s how “the fighting” typically goes down…
- My daughter screeches, “Mom, he pushed me!” while my three-year-old son refutes, “No, I not!”
- She shoots him a dirty look.
- He rolls on top of her back like he’s flattening a huge mound of pizza dough annnnnnd…. that’s when I step in.
Not to solve the problem.
But to suggest a few ways to be constructive together instead of killing each other.
I figure that it’s the least that I can do.
I am their Mom after all.
And, I like avoiding the ER.
I’ve seen boredom jars and a few other ways to get kids engaged, but I’ve found our list of 10 easy suggestions to get kids playing together has been the most successful solution for our family.
The “Witching Hour”
Let’s get real. This isn’t just about our kids fighting, but it’s about them hitting a WALL. I’ve always called it “witching hour.” When my kids are battling it out on the couch and all I can hear is, “he said this”, “she said that!,” I normally know what time it is: 4:00pm.
It’s literally like clockwork.
The kids have been home just long enough from school that they are restless, but it’s the time of day when I need to get dinner prepped, to finish up morning chores, or to put wine glasses in the dishwasher for later that night.
Yep. It’s witching hour.
Trust me. It can be a challenge to get siblings to play together at any time of day, but this time of day seems to be even harder. So, please know that you aren’t alone.
Give your kids the option of doing one of these 10+ ideas to encourage your kids to play together OR they have the option to do a “play bath” AWAY from one another.
I’ll get to that at the end of the post.
But, let’s start with the list…
This post contains affiliate links at no extra cost to you – see our disclosure policy.
10 Ways to Encourage Sibling Play
Put out a few bubble wands (especially great for families with babies and toddlers). If I plan on leaving my kids for a few minutes, I try to get them started by saying things like:
- How many bubbles can you blow with one breath?
- One of you blow the bubbles and see if the other can pop them ALL! Then switch.
I also love turning this on for my kids (it’s magical) or using these bubbles that don’t spill for my younger kids.
2. Cushions and Pillows
This one might not work for you, but my kids play with this for hours. Gather pillows from different rooms and take cushions off of the couch. Let kids build, crawl, and play with the pillows.
- Can you make a fort that doesn’t fall?
- Can you make a hot lava bridge?
- Can you get from one place to the other without touching the floor?
This is my kid’s favorite thing to do, but your kids will start taking cushions off of your couch daily after this. Just a warning.
3. Empty Re-usable Bags & Purses
Have you ever seen Grandma’s open their bags and let kids take things out and put them back in? They’re on to something! Younger kids especially love this game.
Get out your purses from the closet, backpacks, wallets, and re-usable bags alongside some favorite soft toys or play food. Let them load and unload the bags
- How many bags can you fill up?
- Can you set up a store? (warning: they’ll want YOU to shop!)
- Pick out your siblings favorite toy and hide it inside one of the bags – can they find it?
This was a go-to game for us when my kids were under 4 years old. It’s great for big siblings to play with littles too.
Tip: Add a treat in one of the bags for kids to find (my kids love finding these but if they’re really lucky they get this).
4. Fabric & Scarves
Who doesn’t love fort building? If you don’t want to take cushions off of the couch, let kids go crazy with a few sheets, rubber bands, and chairs to build a fort.
My kids love adding a few books and blankets to make a cozy reading space.
Get your kids playing with simple games:
- Play Hide and Seek! Hold baby if they aren’t moving yet to get them involved.
- Peek-a-boo is perfect for babies and older siblings – use the fabric that you got out from the suggestion above!
- Follow the leader – let the youngest one lead and have the others follow how they move (crawling, toddling, etc.)
- Imitate Each Other – Can you do & look like your brother or sister for 1 minute? Then, switch.
- Try to get the other to laugh or to smile – what did you do?
Gather anything large and metallic in the house alongside a magnetic wand or other magnets (Look on your fridge, you might have some options that you didn’t think of!).
- Gather mason jar lids, muffin tins, pots, pans, spoons, etc. along with the wands.
- Build a structure with magnets. We love our Magna-Tiles, but I have my eye on these to add to our christmas list.
PS. We made a magnetic wall in our house with this and our kids LOVE it!
7. Musical & Dance
Drums, rattles, shakers, bells, keyboard or anything else in the house. We use Alexa to play music (all you have to say is “Alexa, play music”) and my kids love to dance.
PS. Check out our post about making instruments glow in the dark!
Blow up a few balloons and let kids hit them around the room.
It’s so simple, but you’d be amazed with how long kids will play with balloons!
We love our tunnel, but you can open up old cardboard boxes to create tunnels and pathways too.
My kids love putting the tunnel around each other, pushing the tunnel down to the ground, and letting it POP up towards the ceiling. It’s too much fun to watch!
Nothing brings children together like water play. This is safest for the young children, too. Fill a small tub with water, a few cups, and some plastic toys.
OR, you can put your kids in the bath and let them play.
It contains the water, keeps them happy, and gets bath done early. That’s a win/win!
Choose one of these ideas below and add them to your child’s bathtub:
- Mega blocks or Lego
- Plastic dolls like barbies
- Trucks or cars
- Pom poms (you can scoop them out and they will dry out again)
- Foam Sheets from the craft supply store. They stick to bath walls when you add a little water to the back!
- Kitchen supplies like muffin tins, kitchen spoons, ladles, strainers, etc. for scooping and playing
- Glow sticks for a dark bath (we get glow sticks in the dollar section at Michael’s)
- LOTS of bubbles!
- Shaving cream with paintbrushes to paint on the walls (just wash away with water)
- And don’t forget about the power of a DRY bath (idea from my bestie, Busy Toddler) – no water added!! You can put play dough in there or blocks or slime! It’s a great way to control the mess and clean up.
Keep this list handy for when witching hour hits your house. And, remember, you’re not alone! Getting our kids to play together peacefully isn’t always possible, but these ideas are a FABULOUS place to start when you need to change the vibe in your house.
You’ve got this, friend!
Laura @ Lalymom says
Great ideas! We played with a balloon today, that was fun for both of them! Pinning this!
Thanks, Laura! We love balloons, too! My son is currently trying to bite them (he’s only 9 months), so it puts a limit on how much we can use them 🙂
Great ideas Katie! Seriously, I love all the activities and ideas for use/conversation. Great ways to get kids connecting and engaging with one another!
Thanks, Lisette! It’s nice to remember that you don’t need lots of toys to get kids playing together and having fun 🙂
I pinned this! Great ideas and I can’t wait to try some of them 🙂
We already do bubbles, games, sing and dancing and the rest sound great! thank you for inspiration. my 4 and 1 year old will have lots of fun!
Thanks for linking up with the Parenting #pinitparty
You’re more than welcome – I hope you kids have a blast playing together 🙂
Laura @ Mattress Topper says
Kids are so annoying, you know, but we have no other way than dealing with them. I find bubbles are the most effective way. Then, robots or dolls. Another way is to let them watch cartoons.
Neodymium magnets are even better than regular ones. Not just for playing but in general. But, of course, they are good for playing too, if only because they are sleeker and glossier and stronger.