Sing silly songs. I find that simply changing one word delights my kids to no end. I'll launch into a rousing rendition of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Car." Anna and Chloe immediately start protesting. "Daddy, it's twinkle, twinkle, little star." So I apologize and begin again with "Twinkle, twinkle, little refrigerator." Before you know it, the kids want to try.
Make bath and bedtime fun. I will hang my arm over the edge of the tub and pretend to be distracted; the girls then pour water on my hand and "surprise me." "Heyyyy! My hand is all wet!" Lately they've been pretending that the hair on my arm is a beauty parlor client-shampoo, conditioner, the works.
After my girls, who insist on sharing a bed, are tucked in, they like me to snuggle with them. I will "fall asleep" and let my hand gently fall over one of their heads. "Daddy, wake up!" "What's wrong?" "Your hand is on my head!" Soon enough, this leads to exaggerated snores and two hands lying on my head. Guaranteed to rob your children of ten minutes of rest.
Play freeze tag. When the child says, "freeze," you must do so. It helps to be an inch away from tickling them and to mumble through frozen lips that they must unfreeze or they'll be in big trouble. When they unfreeze you, say, "Young lady, don't you dare freeze me again because I..."
Originally published in the January 2010 issue of American Baby magazine.