Repeat ad nauseum
May 16, 2019 7:54 PM   Subscribe

What are some examples of activities that kids might ask to do over and over again but that are significantly less fun for any adult involved?

Most interested in activities that are inherently less enjoyable for the adult to begin with, i.e. a piggy back ride, but also welcome activities that might be enjoyable to begin with but lose their charm in the repetition, i.e. reading a book.
posted by Miss Viola Swamp to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (46 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
It’s not just reading a book, it’s that kids can somehow develop a fondness for absolutely terrible books. The Very Bad Bunny is potentially the worst book in our house. It has no narrative structure, no lesson, no clever word choice or rhyming, and no good illustration. And yet I have read the damn thing several hundred times, because when the deal is the kid gets to choose two books and then she will go to bed, and she chooses The Very Bad Bunny as one of them, I will read The Very Bad Bunny.
posted by rockindata at 8:03 PM on May 16 [7 favorites]

Going to the same museum over and over and over and over again.
Playing Monopoly. Asking to play Monopoly again. Then asking go play Monopoly the next day. Replace Monopoly with most board games, and you have my life.
Playing the card game “War.”
Watching the same episodes of a show over and over and over again instead of new things (I thought parenting would involve staying up to date on the latest Pixar movies, but I was very wrong).
posted by Maarika at 8:08 PM on May 16 [8 favorites]

Or the kid can develop a fondness for a wonderful TV show, and then demand to watch it for two hours every single day of six months, thus destroying what used to be a fun experience. This is why, years later, I still cannot face rewatching Avatar: The Last Airbender. I watched it the first time with an adult friend, loved it, introduced it to my daughter, daughter insisted on rewatching and rewatching it, it drove me nuts. I can't even face Korra. :p

(Thank goodness she's a teenager now?!)
posted by yhlee at 8:09 PM on May 16 [3 favorites]

I expect that the period in 1978 when I watched Star Wars every day counts.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 8:09 PM on May 16 [4 favorites]

Making slime out of glue
posted by bleep at 8:09 PM on May 16 [6 favorites]

Getting fast food.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 8:10 PM on May 16 [3 favorites]

My kids watched Brave Little Toaster every day. Eternally. Great little movie during the first hundred viewings. After that, you start hoping someone would drop the damned toaster in a bathtub.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:15 PM on May 16 [6 favorites]

Washing hands in the sink
Throwing away a piece of trash
Opening garage door
Feeding cat
Making bed
Pushing on swings
Holding hands to help walk up slide
Grab and hold body and inform him that I’ve got him and that he cannot run away and then let him struggle out of grasp and then lament that he ran away and then exclaim happily when he comes back
Pour cup of water slowly into bath
Tell story which is just a lengthy description of something he asks about that happened minutes, hours, or days ago
Help make macaroni and cheese, thereby quintuple amount of time and effort the task requires
Shake head and frown comically in mock surprise
Hold by hands and swing him around in a circle
Pretend that I don’t see him under covers and loudly exclaim that I don’t think there are any tigers in this room, and then pretend to be frightened when he says, while ostensibly hidden, that there is a tiger in the room, and then pretend to discover that the toddler-sized lump under the covers is actually a scary tiger in a cave and that everyone must be careful to avoid the tiger
Catch him when jumping from pool ledge
posted by skewed at 8:26 PM on May 16 [18 favorites]

Listening to Baby Shark.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:27 PM on May 16 [13 favorites]

Any sort of role play where my job is to do what I'm told and repeat the lines fed to me. I know this is how he's practicing social skills and he's wanting to rehearse specific aspects of things but.

Asking to play or do things you know they cannot play/do and will end with 400 pieces all over the floor. I'm looking at you, Ticket to Ride. And making pizza dough. And...

On preview: "pretend you don't know" is awful and we run the same scenarios over and over and over. UGH.

Anything to the effect of "fight me" or "let's wrestle". Especially once they get big enough to actually hurt you and are picking up moves from power rangers.

"Pretend you're sleeping" There is no pretend, only do.

Right now as I'm typing this! He's watching the jungle book and "you be the the little boy doesn't know his friend the blue one (Bagheera) is sick". Sigh.
posted by jrobin276 at 8:36 PM on May 16 [10 favorites]

Anything involving spinning which causes dizziness.
posted by oxisos at 8:42 PM on May 16 [3 favorites]

Anything where you do voices. If you give a puppet a voice please remember to make it a voice that will be easy on your throat after 45 minutes. I deeply regret that my monkey puppet has a growly GI tough guy voice, now.
posted by blnkfrnk at 8:50 PM on May 16 [10 favorites]

Little kids tend to really like simple songs played or sung over and over again. I didn't have this experience with Baby Shark, but I had it with Elmo's Song and some other Sesame Street music - mostly Elmo's Song though, many times a day, for like a couple years.
posted by bagel at 9:10 PM on May 16 [1 favorite]

Anything with loud, repetitive noises. One year when I was at my aunt's for Christmas, I gave my little cousin the latest Animal Crossing game, partly because it was the best child-friendly game I could find at Wal-Mart, and partly because it would spare my aunt from having to listen to Sonic the Hedgehog.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 9:32 PM on May 16

The games Chutes and Ladders and Candyland. Ugh! I loved those games as a kid and learned why it was like pulling teeth to get an adult to play with me when I introduced those games to my two kids.
posted by i_like_camels at 9:48 PM on May 16 [7 favorites]

I mean, speaking as an adult, there are VERY few things I want to do over and over again as many times as my kids want me to do things over and over again. I actually made a house rule that mommy doesn't read the same book more than once in a row, that you HAVE to pick a different book in between, and when I announced it you'd think I'd just told my son we were selling him to the circus.
posted by potrzebie at 9:48 PM on May 16 [17 favorites]

Knock-knock jokes.
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:07 PM on May 16 [1 favorite]

burps and farts
posted by Toddles at 10:37 PM on May 16 [1 favorite]

I have searched in vain to find my friends’ not very quietly hidden toddler under a blanket on the couch roughly 329 times, which means her parents have probably done it fifty thousand times or something.

but I came in here to say: eponysterical!
posted by deludingmyself at 11:04 PM on May 16 [3 favorites]

My eight year old just forced all four of us to memorize a canon she learnt at school, then sing it 4 times before breakfast.

One thing I hated eventually was when she snd her sister would „put on a show“ for us, which basically meant that we were held a captive audience in their dark room, while they randomly play acted stuff and spent a lot of time arguing over what they‘d show us next.
posted by Omnomnom at 11:07 PM on May 16 [12 favorites]

Also, hiding behind corners and then jumping out with a screech: BOO! Twice a day, always at the same time and place.
„Were you scared?!“

I can‘t decide whether it‘s worse to have to pretend being startled, or actually getting the bejeesus scared out of me.
posted by Omnomnom at 11:10 PM on May 16 [7 favorites]

It's a rainy day and the eight year old wants to do some kind of far-too-complicated craft project like candle-decorating or sewing a plush owl. After 5 minutes they get bored and frustrated but still want you to finish making the piece of tat for them while they whine at you about how bored they are and how you're doing it wrong.

As a child I definitely forced my captive family (e.g. on long car journeys) to sing rounds or else listen to my ear-splittingly high-pitched renditions of Christmas carols and camp songs.

With the little ones, peek-a-boo with silly faces. There's only so many in my repertoire!
posted by Balthamos at 12:48 AM on May 17 [6 favorites]

Going to a children's museum.
posted by Elsie at 3:35 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]

My 9-year-old likes to play board and card games. But what he doesn't like to do is play using the actual rules. He explains his (natually much better) rules at the start of the game, and we play by those. The rules are generally not well thought-through, so the game mostly involves the other players asking if they can do X, or trying to do Y, and my kid making new rules to cover each emerging situation. Ultimately the game ends up grinding on endlessly until he makes a new rule that brings the game to an end, or someone gets tired of the endless lawyering and walks away from the game.

This has been going on for five years now. My kid loves making up games, which is great for him and hell for everyone else.
posted by pipeski at 3:49 AM on May 17 [4 favorites]

Watching them do anything in a swimming pool over and over and over but especially handstand/diving board/cannonball-related.

I may have literally had my third kid just so the first two would have an audience for pool shenanigans and I could read my book.

if my kids are reading this no mommy is joking and of course i watched every single time and you were awesome
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 4:03 AM on May 17 [15 favorites]

My daughter does this thing she calls "going shopping", where she pushes a toy shopping cart down the hall from the living room to her bedroom, and I walk behind her. Then, when we get to her bedroom, we turn around, and I walk back to the living room while she pushes the cart behind me. Then, when we get to the living room, we turn around, and she pushes the cart back down towards her room while I follow. Then, when we get to her bedroom... you get the idea. I've probably walked a 5K at least twice doing this. If I do try to stop early, she'll take my hand and lead me, the way an adult would lead an actual child through a supermarket, while loudly saying "come on, Daddy!".
posted by kevinbelt at 4:32 AM on May 17 [6 favorites]

"This is the way the farmers ride!"

Pots and pans tympani. Whistles and vuvuzelas.

"Why?", "Why?". "Why?"

Any experience where you are scared shitless and keeping it normal, calm and even fun for the kid, such as waits in emerg to see if Daddy will survive. Bonus points if the kid has picked up enough tension to know that you are being more supportive/ affectionate than normal and is agitating for vending machine junk food and you are rationing your change and wondering if it will last through peanuts, chips, gum, soft drink, trail mix, crackers with orange plastic cheese and chocolate.

Being sick in bed while they roam the house happily doing what they are usually prevented from doing when you can supervise, instead of how functional you are now, needing the lights off and a sick up basin cuddled in the crook of your arm.

Escorting the child to the outhouse while wearing a jacket that has been defeated by the damp, in the scary dark and the rain, again, for the fifth time since the sun went down at 3:30 PM. So far as the child is concerned it is way too scary to go on their own (you agree, although you might use the word muddy in place of scary) but it is exciting fun spooky with flashlights if you are there holding their hand.

Kid having friends over. The more friends the kid has the more fun they have and the less fun you have. Should be done at least weekly to ensure they can practice their social skills.

Getting parked at the babysitter that will Make You Pay for the favour, such as your sister who is a bad, reluctant and overly permissive babysitter while you go to another funeral, or to chemo, etc. With each iteration your baby sitter figures you owe them exponentially, your kid comes home with new boundaries to test and you try to hold it together without getting furious with anyone.

Eating ice cream or other rare super sweet food until they throw up.

Running away from you/ impromptu hide and seek at the mall.

Telling family secrets. "Mummy is looking for a new job!"

Kid singing soothingly to themself, "Anna nuther little bird, anna nother little bird, anna nother little bird, anna nother little bird, anna nother little bird, anna nother little bird..." ceases to be a problem after about three weeks when you stop hearing it, but you will thereafter hear it as an earworm during migraines decades later.

Any game which is going to end with the kid as a devastated sore loser and you know that is going to happen but this is their Favourite Game Ever.

Any scary movie that will result in bed time terrors, insomnia, and nightmares. Bonus points if the movie in question is Disney's Snow White and we have done this monthly since they were four, on the advice of the pediatrician who wants you to test if they have grown out of it yet.

Finger paint

Going on that merry go round ride where you have to ride too in order to stabilize or reassure the kid but it hurts your neck.

Parent-teacher conferences with a teacher who disapproves of your parenting regarding a smirking kid who has done that thing deliberately again. (Pro-tip: If the parent-teacher relationship is going to become unsalvageable, put the teacher on the defensive, and be very, very kind and show great sympathy for their class control problems but this behaviour NEVER occurs at home. It probably doesn't because you can physically sit on the kid for an hour and a quarter if necessary to make them stop putting every one of the available pencils one by one behind the radiator when they are in a bad mood, because you are not absurdly outnumbered like the teacher is. So be as kind as possible, and then a bit kinder.)

Your kid volunteering your services because you are the Best Parent ever and can provide the Best Cookies ever, or do first aid on someone's cat, or otherwise have talents your child is in awe of.

Telling stories to keep them occupied during interminable waits. Made worse if this is occurring where there are other small children who start to gravitate towards you until you are in the centre of an inner ring of giggling small people and an outer ring of parents some of which are looking unutterably relieved and some of which are looking unutterably irritated as you extend your unending lively and silly story into the second hour...

Dropping things out of the playpen/high chair/fenced yard/crib. Pro-tip: Anything that needs to be retrieved a second time is not returned to the kid.

Calling poison control because your child ate some berries. Pro-tip, learn what potentially toxic berries are in the area ahead of time so you can rule them out. Very likely deadly nightshade is the only toxic red berry in your area, so if you know that and can establish that the berries were red you won't be facing a trip to emerg over mountain ash, and if the child is young enough to be in an enclosed yard and actually stay there, you can eradicate all the mountain ash with some of your frustration going into localized botanical genocide.

Turning off all the lights when Mummy actually needs to see. Bonus points if you get hurt semi-stepping on the kid who was crawling out from under the table on your way to the light switch, and then have to comfort the kid who is less hurt than you are.
posted by Jane the Brown at 4:38 AM on May 17 [10 favorites]

Whenever I ask my son what he wants to do it is: go watch the trains. If not in person than a video or train toys. It is train overload (for me as an adult). He cannot seem to get enough...
posted by PistachioRoux at 5:16 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]

Consider yourself lucky, PistachioRoux. My son has a friend who likes nothing more than to watch bin lorries (garbage trucks).
posted by pipeski at 6:01 AM on May 17 [2 favorites]

Holding hands and jumping waves in the ocean (my kids would be happy doing this for hours)
posted by maxg94 at 6:37 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]



anything is annoying on endless repeat, literally everything you love is awful when you have to do it over and over to a 3 1/2 year old's specifications.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 6:55 AM on May 17 [7 favorites]

When my son was really REALLY into puppets, we got him one that requires three hands to operate. His two and one of ours. We were hostages to that fucking puppet. And its endless inane dialog that always seemed to be "Hello. How are you?" over and over. You can't just half participate when your hand is right there with his in a fucking chicken puppet.
posted by Mo Nickels at 7:01 AM on May 17 [6 favorites]

The one I really had a problem with was when my two girls were little, and they would decide to "put on a show" for us. They would make it up as they went along. After every song, or bit of a play, or whatever, I would applaud and get ready to go, but no. "It's not over yet!" and there would be a five minute whispered-out-loud discussion about who was going to do what next. Repeat ad nauseam.
posted by Samarium at 8:05 AM on May 17 [7 favorites]

When she was tiny, my niece was absolutely insatiable about having books read to her. Her parents only half-joked about having to rescue me sometimes. It was thoroughly endearing and humbling and rewarding...for the first couple at a time!

"Pick me up!" and "carry me!" was also a very common refrain. There comes a perfectly natural phase transition of physical growth that pulls ahead of the similarly natural transition to the kid no longer actually wanting that, and when that's mismatched it'll make any trusted adult much more conscious of the state of their (mine!) own back.
posted by Drastic at 8:24 AM on May 17 [2 favorites]

When I was four, it was forcing my mother to play-act The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes several times a day for many, many months. (Sorry, mom! And, thanks.)
posted by eotvos at 8:50 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]

seconding Candyland. THE WORST. Tic Tac Toe not much better.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:17 AM on May 17 [2 favorites]

Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber and now Imagine Dragons tracks - endlessly repeated. Man they were boring (especially Bieber) musically to begin with, but wait until you are forced to listen to them for 6 straight hours in a row.
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:22 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]

"Pick me up!" and "carry me!" was also a very common refrain.

Especially if you do some sort of fun little maneuver, like dangling them by the ankles, or tossing them onto a couch, etc. I used to have a little trick to flip a kid head over heels very quickly that is apparently an insane amount of fun, as any kid I ever tried it on insisted on having it done to them 14 million times.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:42 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]

The upside-down carry-by-ankles, which would then necessitate, by immutable law, carrying her that way to the next room to show mom or show dad,who were legally obligated to be delighted.

I grew very familiar with it.
posted by Drastic at 11:05 AM on May 17

Oh man, adding wee adorable things into the bedtime routine like an innocent high five or the time I ill-advisedly tried to teach him rock paper scissors too close to bedtime - now I have to go through this, like, 15 minute rigmarole of gestures and handshakes before his head will even touch the pillow. Quite funny initially but wearing very very thin after a couple of hundred repetitions.
posted by Lluvia at 12:32 PM on May 17 [5 favorites]

When I was a kid (probably around age 7), I really liked the first several measures of the Huey Lewis and the News song "I Know What I Like". I liked it so much that I made an entire tape of those measures played over and over for when I wasn't at home with access to my parents' CD player and headphones. It was only many years later that I understood why my parents never seemed to want to listen to this tape while on a trip in the car.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 2:59 PM on May 17 [2 favorites]

"ctrl-f this is the song that never ends" doesn't find anything?

Neither a hit for 99 bottles of beer on the wall? As a kid, I made it down to 0 several times. No way I'm getting there as an adult. It's a triumph of will (you may all pitty Ms. nobeagle) when I get to 97.

But yeah, kids pick damn awful movies, songs or books and want that book forever! I played the "Aladin" VHS tape at least 100 if not 200 times one year. While singing with my horrible voice.
posted by nobeagle at 3:36 PM on May 17 [1 favorite]

oh god I have FEELS


especially when you're in a room where there is no real place to hide (therapy playroom) but they insist on it anywayyyy

it's like Sisyphus but with wild giggling
posted by fairlynearlyready at 4:06 PM on May 17 [3 favorites]

My younger sister had a particular Christmas tape that was the only thing she would listen to and my god there is only so much Christmas music—especially the same goddamn tape—one person should be expected to listen to from november to july. I took a hammer to it to be sure it could never be recovered. I was not and am not sorry.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 4:56 PM on May 17 [3 favorites]

I was 8. My sister was 3. For Christmas she got a toy of the mirror from Beauty and the Beast. You pushed the button and it had Belle saying "show me the Beast!" Then it would light up with a picture of the Beast. She must have pushed the button a million times. After a million and one, eight year old me took the damn batteries out.

I also read Simon Goes to the Doctor to her a million times. Spoiler: he gets a sticker at the end.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 8:30 PM on May 17

My younger sister had a particular Christmas tape that was the only thing she would listen to and my god there is only so much Christmas music—especially the same goddamn tape—one person should be expected to listen to from november to july

I our house, it‘s the „Very Pony Christmas“ My Little Pony CD.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:21 AM on May 18 [1 favorite]

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