Activities for Bored Children
Ode to the Stressed Out Mom
Dear Stressed Out Parent,
I sympathize. I hear your pleas for a moments peace. It just doesn't happen too often does it? Are you tired of having children following you around with that "bored" look on their face? Are you annoyed by buying the kids a new toy, only to have them fighting with each other over who gets the box? Have you lost your marbles?
Me too! I have learned a lot about children in the past year alone. Why in the past year? Well, I've had the opportunity to not just raise my own children, both 3 and 5 years old, but to help in raising my husband's brother, who is 11. I've seen many sides of boredom, and many cries for help from me, their expected Entertainment Center. HOWEVER, I have refused to fall into this trap. Because, you see, once you begin directing activities for them to do, they become reliant on you for this fun. I'm not saying it is not okay to do things with your children every once in a while. I'm just saying that promoting independence and creative thinking are far worth it in the long run.
Read on for more ideas!
The Mom Who Still Puts Herself In a Time Out (at least twice a day)
Ways to "teach" a child independence
I honestly think that a child has to be encouraged to be independent from the time they are infants. Now, I am not saying that we abandon our children and not care for them appropriately. I, like many other parents, are one of those who freak out on the first day of school because I don't want to leave them! Honestly, they adjust more than I do! That being said, it is important to support a healthy separation from you, and help them create ways to entertain themselves and learn in the process.
Ideas to use for our bored children:
- I often find myself setting aside "extra" toys from birthday parties and holidays so that when boredom strikes, I can get these toys out to spark some activity. Honestly, they just get TOO MUCH at parties and holidays.....why not sneak some off?
- Create a box (or use a large tub with a lid) that contains toys ONLY for rainy days/boredom days. This is a good place to put those "un-used" toys and old toys; they become "new" toys all over again!
- Have an Art Basket, with various art supplies for them to independently create masterpieces. This should contain everything from paint to playdough. Freaked out about the paint? Use water paints or Paint By Numbers. Kids need to have experiences with this. Both young and old alike can enjoy art activities.
- Get old boxes and let them go to town. They can decorate them, make forts, create houses for their action figures (or Barbies), etc.
- Make an easy scavenger hunt for them: Find 5 rocks, Find 10 funny looking sticks, etc. For older kids who live with younger ones, they can be the ones to CREATE the scavenger hunt.
If you can take a car ride:
- Head to the local library. Although you will be technically "entertaining" them by taking them here, they can ultimately go on their own in the book sections, choosing favorite books to read and look at.
- Playgrounds are great energy users! Take bikes and balls and let them figure the rest out themselves! Older kids are more resistant to playgrounds, but you may be able to find a playground with basketball hoops or climbing equipment that can be more suitable for the older child.
- Local parks and lakes are great science adventures. The parent has to do very little in these situations. Children can explore bugs and dirt. They can find various animals, like birds and frogs. Streams contain tadpoles and minnows. The entertainment is endless!
When All Else Fails.....
Okay, we all know that we can rely on the usual television and video games, but I find that to be an easy way out. There is nothing more exciting than seeing your young children create a "Pirate Hunt for Treasure" in your backyard!
When the above strategies are exhausted, and when I am asked, "So, what are WE going to do today?" I simply say, "Well, you know what YOU can do!" Or I say, "It's an Entertain Yourself Day!" And leave it at that. There is NO harm in just letting kids figure it out themselves! It is not worth stressing yourself out being the MAIN source of entertainment all of the time.
The best way for them to learn is for them to be bored in the first place!