When is the last time your kids were bored at home? Every parent has heard it…“I’m bored?” When the kids are home for summer, in the middle of Christmas holidays, or on a road trip, we repeatedly hear the cry of boredom. My five-year-old has about a one minute threshold before she is convinced that she is bored and then quickly asks to borrow a phone or an iPad. As a parent, it’s helpful if I can give her some ideas of what to do when she’s bored so that we aren’t overly dependent on technology.
Let’s pause for a minute…, in this post, I’m not going to tell you that technology is bad and that you’re allowing your kids to use it too much. That’s a different topic. I’m going to focus on helping you help your kids when they’re lost about what to do and thus = BORED!
Your Kids Are Born At Home
Tip #1 – Why being bored is good
First of all, let’s remind ourselves that being bored isn’t a bad thing. Boredom breeds creativity! Kids tap into their imagination when they have the mental free space to think. They learn to pretend, to build, to craft, or even to play with their siblings. Boredom may not be their first choice, but often it leads to something more fun than they ever thought of. So, tip #1, if you’re kids are bored…that’s ok! Let them be!
Tip #2 – Prime the pump
My brother’s kids are older than my kids. Often my sister-in-law gives me helpful ideas of things she’s learned along the way. One of the things she’s shared is that it is helpful to show your kids how to pretend and use their imagination. Her girls played more often and longer with dolls after she had modeled how to play with them. For example, she would play with her daughters a couple of times with the dolls, and then they would understand by themselves what to do and could create a world of their own.
The same is true when kids are bored at home. They often can’t think of what they should do on their own. But we, as parents, can help them! If we have a planned list of go-to items and share those things with our kids, they will be better prepared to figure it out themselves the next time they are bored. (and believe me, there will be a next time!)
Tip #3 – Get the basics out of the way
Before you help your child figure out an engaging activity, make sure they’ve taken care of the basics for the day. Often a morning routine includes things like:
- Going potty
- Brushing teeth
- Getting dressed
- Making your bed
- Eating breakfast
Of if it’s later in the day and they’ve already been playing, make sure they’ve already picked up the toys, crafts, pillows whatever it is from the last thing they did.
Tip #4 – Give them ideas of things to do
Like a boy scout, let’s be prepared with boredom busters the next time your kids are bored at home. The goal here is to point your child in the right direction, to provide consistent guidance, and essentially train them to figure out what to do the next time they are bored. Here are 20 boredom busters you can share with your kids. Be sure to grab my free Boredom Busters printable at the end of this post
- Play outside
- Draw or color
- Create or build
- Make something for someone else
- Play a sport
- Practice a hobby
- Play a game or do a puzzle
- Clean their room
- Practice writing or math
- Play with their sibling
- Help their parent
- Water the garden
- Organize their favorite things
- Plan a meal
- Cook something simple
- Make a fort or a tent out of pillows or sheets
- Play dress up
- Write a poem
- Make up a play, dance, or lip sync
You can also grab my free pretend cards to help inspire more ways your kids can entertain themselves.
Tip #5 – Set Boundaries for Technology
Kids are drawn to technology…heck, aren’t we all! The lights are bright, it’s fast paced with immediate gratification, and it engages our minds really well. The challenge for most families is around setting limits on technology.
Parents need to determine the boundaries that work for their family. Some kids do really well with technology while other kids become over stimulated.
- when a child can use technology
- and how much time they are allowed to spend on technology.
Some parents use a guide like the one I offer at the end of this post to help their kids pace themselves before they engage with technology. For example, using the list above, I would encourage my daughter to choose 5 things to do before she can watch a show on TV or play a game on the tablet.
The beauty in this approach is that the kid understands your expectations, is provided a few starter ideas, and you have set clear boundaries for what they can do when they are bored.
The second part of setting boundaries is to specify how much time your child can spend using technology.
When I was a kid, we rode our bikes, played four square, built forts, and did lip-syncs to music. We didn’t have the technology options that are available today. We still got bored and struggled with ideas of things to do. As parents, we don’t want to prevent our kids from being bored, but it is ok to help them figure out what to do when they are bored at home.
By setting expectations, establishing boundaries, and providing encouragement of alternatives to technology, you can help your kids tap into a deeper potentially more creative activity than they would have otherwise.