We start the summer with grand plans, dreaming of days full of fun activities and cooperating kids, but despite our best efforts, inevitably, a child will utter the dreaded words, “I’m bored.” It is easy to get frustrated when you hear those words, but boredom can actually benefit kids. It allows them space to be creative and find new hobbies and interests. Here are some ideas to help redirect a child who feels they have nothing fun to do.
Let’s face it. We don’t always have time to stop what we are doing and entertain a bored child. With a boredom jar, you can send them over to pick an idea that will inspire and help them fill empty time. These jars do not take a lot of time to make and do not need to be fancy. Just find an empty jar and fill it with slips of paper or popsicle sticks with an activity written on each one. If you need help thinking of ideas, check out Pinterest. Many posts include free printables like this one which comes with 144 different ideas, most of which your child can do independently.
Like the boredom jar, a creativity basket is filled with ideas that will help your child use their imagination. Kids will want to clean it out the first time you let them pick something but limit them to one item and see how far you can stretch your supplies and their creativity. We like to get our supplies from a dollar store. These stores have great craft sections with googly eyes and pipe cleaners perfect for fun art projects but do not stop there. If you walk the whole store, you will find many other good supplies for your basket. Crepe paper and tape from the party section can turn your hallway into an obstacle course. Sponges from the kitchen section can become water bombs for a water fight in the backyard. There are so many possibilities, and the best part is that you do not need to spend a lot of money to keep this basket stocked with fun ideas.
Sometimes, moving little arms and legs is the perfect antidote for boredom. Quick and easy options are going for a walk or putting on some music for an impromptu dance party. There are also countless videos on YouTube to help encourage kids to move in different ways, some of which they may have tried at school during online learning. Our youngest really enjoys the Go Noodle videos, which his teacher introduced him to in kindergarten. These songs get him up and moving, and by now, we all know the words and sing along together.
If you want a more traditional workout for your kids, P.E. with Joe is fabulous. He is funny and motivating and has many workouts to choose from. Cosmic Kids Yoga is great when you want to slow things down a bit. They teach yoga through interactive stories, and each video has a fun theme like dinosaurs, mermaids, or superheroes. Even if you don’t have time to take kids to the park, there are so many good ways to get kids moving and having fun at the same time.
Check for Local Programs
If you want a boredom-busting option outside your home, look for summer programs from your city or local library. Portland offers a Free Lunch and Play program that will run through August 20th for families with food assistance and a place to play. Libraries offer reading programs and some online and in-person activities for children throughout the summer too. Visit your library to find out what they have to offer kids this year. Reading is a great option to fill a quiet spot during the day. We like to listen to audiobooks on our library’s reading app while we play and do chores as well.
Boredom doesn’t have to be a sign that summer is unexciting but can be a chance for children to try something new. Having a few of these ideas ready to go will help when your child needs extra creativity motivation. A little preparation can distinguish between frustration on both sides to new hobbies and fun memories.
Mary Weggeland grew up in Alaska but has called Oregon home for the last ten years. She lives in Sherwood with her husband and three kids. When she is not writing, Mary enjoys reading fiction, making crafts, and baking desserts. She also loves road trips and exploring Oregon with her family.