Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Two Words My Kids are Never Allowed to Say...

"I'm bored."

I hate those words. Yes, hate is a strong word, but I use it without hesitation in this situation. I've been browsing blogs lately, and since it's summer, parents are freaking out. They think that since school's out, they are going to be plagued with constantly entertaining their children for the next 3 months. Wow.

Here are some ways to prevent these words from coming out of your child's mouth. Not ways to entertain them...ways to promote self-entertainment. Remember when you were a kid? What did you do for fun? Personally, I spent hours and hours outside, in the sandbox, on our swings, under the porch, up in a tree, in the dog's kennel, or at the neighbors house playing with dolls.

One thing you should never do when your child says "I'm bored" is drop what your doing and try to make up some exciting activity to occupy them for 10 more minutes. That might seem like it's what you're supposed to do as a parent, but that will just keep them dependent on you for their entertainment. They'll lose their ability to be creative and imaginative. What you should do is set them up for success by supplying avenues for fun and let them decide what to do next. So, here's what I propose:

  • Set up activity centers around the house, and in your yard, if you have one. Centers could be craft centers with paper, scissors, glue, crayons, paint, markers, stickers, ribbon, wrapping paper, cheap craft sets from the store, play dough, modeling clay, disposable camera (kids love taking pictures; you can print them, frame them and put them up around the house or in their room). Another center could be in your backyard: a discovery center. This could include a little net for catching (and releasing) insects, a magnifying glass, small shovel and pail (and a designated area they are free to dig up), a notepad and pencil so they can draw or record insects, animals, and/or plants that they find.
  • Create hiding places. Kids LOVE hiding places. Kind of like cats:-) Do you have an attic that's safe to play in? That was one of my favorite places as a kid. I loved to pull out old toys and play with them up there. Also, you could build or buy a small playhouse for the backyard. It doesn't have to be anything fancy or special, just a place they can claim as their own. You could also just plant a row of tall plants, or plant them in a circle with a small opening so your child can go and sit inside. Sunflowers would be good, or tall grasses. Also, Google "living willow structures" for some even cooler ideas;-) You could also go with the old school treehouse. Always a classic.
  • Make a list. Find a place in their room or the fridge and write a list of ideas they can go to when they can't think of anything to do. You can also use pictures if your child can't read yet. You can let them know that if they are ever tempted to come to you and whine that they're bored, they should go to the list first and see if they can come up with an idea on their own.
Now, this doesn't mean that you shouldn't ever do fun things with your kids. You should play with them and interact with them. Kids need that. However, kids also need to learn to be content by themselves. You don't want them to always be dependent on others for entertainment, or else you'll be hearing "I'm bored" all summer.

What other activity center ideas can you come up with?


  1. Dude...I totally agree! I was at Ikea today and absolutley fell in LOVE with all the inexpensive "old school" toys for kids they have: stacking blocks, old wooden train sets, painting/drawing stuff, tea sets, and even a puppet stage and the cutest puppets to go with. We recently attended my niece's first birthday and all her gifts were noisy, non-educational toys that no imagniation would be required to use them. I decided right then and there that Cale will get mostly toys where he will have to use his imagination- and make his own sound effects while playing. Why would you want it any other way?? Great post Karilyn!!

  2. I love to see posts by smart moms. I really enjoyed this and agree 100%. Our family is in fitness and showbusiness so our little one is always active all year round.
    Sharon Catherine Blanks