Every parent has heard the famed call of the child with nothing to do. It starts with a whine and ends with the words, I’m bored. Most parents are left perplexed as to what to suggest. The usual suggestions like ‘watch TV’ or ‘read a book’ never work and the child invariably starts up their call of boredom once again.
There are a lot of activities you can do with your kids to keep them out of boredom, and some that they can engage in themselves to ensure that you never have to hear the sound of boredom again.
Start With Solo Activities
There are many things that kids can do on their own that do not include watching TV or playing video games. The list presented here is just the start and any creative parent will be able to add to it quite easily.
- Writing – of course parents want their kids to practice their writing skills, but too often you wonder what you should get your child to write. How about a rap song? If your child doesn’t like that idea get them to write a long letter to a friend or a grandparent, but backwards. This will keep them entertained for hours. If they love the movies, get them to write their own movie starring their toys and then use a video camera to film it.
- Things to make and do – if your child is more of the handy type, then get them to use their imaginations to do a little building. If they like carrying and creating, get them to make a fort out of blankets, pillows and books. If they prefer creating on a smaller scale, get them to gather the stuff they need to make a time capsule and then help them bury it in the yard. Another great one is making sock puppets. Give them a few old pairs of socks and show them how to paste buttons on for the eyes and yarn on for the mouth. They will love putting on a play for you.
- For the older kids, give them a camera and ask them to do a photo journal of the garden. You can also hand them some chalk and ask them to draw pictures on the driveway. These are easy enough to get rid of with a hose. If they’re into nature, get them to collect leaves, rocks and other paraphernalia from the garden and show them how to make a nature display.
- If you have more than one bored child, give them paper and get them to make paper airplanes and have a race to see which will fly the farthest. They can also set up an obstacle course in the backyard and time themselves running it.
- If it is rainy outside and you want to give them indoor activities, get them to draw their own comic book, starring them. You can also give them some magazines and get them to cut out pictures to create a scrapbook of their dream house or dream car.
Playing With The Parents
If you have the time to spare and you want to get involved in activities with your kids in the home, you’ll find that there is a lot to do other than playing video games or watching TV.
- Start with some crafts – there is one thing that all kids love and that is getting stuck in to some fun crafts. Whether it is decorating mugs, creating a scrapbook or doing some knitting, kids enjoy creating their own stuff. Get some glitter and paint, stickers and a blank canvas and ask your kids to draw their dream house. If you have fabric paints and old t-shirts, get them to decorate shirts and create their own to wear. There is no limit to the fun that can be had with a little imagination.
- Read a book together – your kids may not like reading books on their own, but as soon as you get involved, they will love reading. Read a book together and make it fun by taking turns reading sentences. Ask them questions at the end of each page, or get them to draw pictures as you go along. Not only is this a great activity to keep them occupied, but it is also an excellent learning opportunity.
- Go on a treasure hunt – write down a list of clues for kids and get them to find everything on the list. This is a great way to keep them occupied for hours and really give their minds a boost. If you want to turn things around, get them to create a scavenger hunt for you.
- Indoor camping or picnic – another great activity to indulge in with your kids is an indoor activity that should be outdoors. Set up a whole picnic in your living room, or make a tent in the bedroom and tell scary stories with a flashlight. Kids love the unusual so think of ways that you can take the outside inside.
- Cooking for kids – one thing that kids love is cooking. Try and think of ways that they can participate safely in your cooking or baking. If you are making cupcakes, let them be the ones to decorate them. If you have some cookie dough left over, let them shape and fashion their own cookies. This will keep them busy for hours and give them a real sense of accomplishment once they’re done.
- Puppet show – did you know that you can hold a puppet show with your kid’s toys? Sit down and write the script for a puppet show with your kids. Then assign parts and practice it all together. You can put on the show for your spouse when they come home or invite relatives over and let your kids entertain them.
What To Do When You’re Desperate
Sometimes, especially when the long summer months seem to be stretching far ahead, it may seem that you have tried every single activity you can think of and have run out. However, creativity is a long thread that never ends, and if you think about it, you will always have something to do with your kids.
Activities In Your Home
Start by thinking about what you have in your home. If you happen to have shaving cream in the house, you already have a way to keep your kids entertained. Did you know that shaving cream on a glass window can be a really fun way to express yourself? You can even get large sheets of colored paper and use shaving cream to paint on those. Kids love using unusual and unexpected types of materials.
One of the best summer activities, especially when school has just come out, is painting a flowerpot. All you need is some paint and clay flowerpots. Paint the pots any way you want and then, when the paint has dried, paint a coat of varnish on them. Then take some soil, a seed and plant food and watch through the summer as it grows. You can even get a few small rocks and decorate them to look like bugs, then put them into your potplant or into the garden.
Show your kids how the postal system works by getting them to write a letter to themselves. Add a picture and then put it all into an envelope. Address the envelope to your child and get them to track how long it takes for the letter to come back to them.
A great way to teach your kids about science is to get them to make a chart tracking what a magnet will and will not pick up. If they like the magnet, you can even get them to create their own paper fish with a paper clip taped to it, and have them play at fishing. Make sure that you give the fish a value according to their size, such as five points for a salmon, ten points for tuna, and 100 points for a whale.
Show your kids the amazing outdoors by getting them to make their own birdfeeders. All you need is a pinecone. Roll the pinecone in peanut butter and then sprinkle it with birdseed. Attach a string to the end and tie it to a tree. Let them watch as the birds make a beeline straight for it.
The Finer Art
Get your kids to make pictures out of macaroni. Start by getting them to color the macaroni with felt tip pens or paint. They can then stick the macaroni down onto a page to create a picture. If you happen to have celery sticks in the house – as most good parents do – put a celery stick into a glass of water and then add food coloring. The next day, your celery stick won’t look the same.
If your kids are really active find an area free of anything that could break and have a sock war. Balled up socks make great ammo, and they’re soft so no one will get hurt. Don’t forget to pick them up afterwards.
At the beginning of summer, get your kids to start making a daily journal with pictures and other collectibles that show what they’ve been doing. If you go to the zoo, keep the ticket stubs. If you watch a play, keep the program. Even a day spent at home can be memorable, so get your kids to take loads of photos.
There are lots of things that you can do to keep your kids entertained all summer long and none of these things involve sitting in front of the TV and watching the same old shows over and over again. With a little bit of imagination, there is a lot you can get your kids involved in that will not only keep them entertained, but also help them learn without them even knowing it.
If you want to get your kids out of the house to keep them entertained, consider taking them to the zoo and getting them to learn the names of all the species of animals you see there. Take them to see a movie and then ask them questions about what they just saw. You might be surprised by their answers. Take them to the park and get them to run races or find certain insects or plants.
There is a lot you can do to keep your kids entertained, both at home and outside of the home if you use your imagination. For those parents that have tried everything and taken their kids to as many movies as they can stand, consider looking online for a child friendly activity. You will probably find that there are many services now on offer for new and exciting kid-friendly activities. In fact, in recent years, more and more kids activity parks have sprung up to keep up with the demand of parents to keep their kids entertained.
If you’ve taken your kids to mini-golf, run them ragged up and down the soccer field or even read every book in the house, it may be a good idea to take a long walk and see what your town has to offer. You may not have even noticed how many kid-friendly venues there are and how many different ways there are to keep your kids entertained. You may also discover that your child has an interest you didn’t even know about, like gymnastics or playing a musical instrument.
In the formative years when you find yourself wanting to help your kids figure out who they are and where they want to go, it makes good sense to help them by exposing them to a variety of activities and places. In this way, they have the chance to figure out what they do and don’t like and what activities they intend to pursue. And it’s a great way to keep yourself occupied too. With all of these suggestions, you will never again have to be exposed to the two scariest words any parent can hear, namely, I’m bored.