Somehow the summer months pass in the blink of an eye and yet drag on for centuries all at once. The same can be true for weekends. I’ve found that independent play can be a great tool, but my kids (and I) also crave more structure from time to time. Here are some ideas for boredom busters for those times!
When in doubt, add water.
Cranky kids? Add water. “Mom, there’s nothing to do!” Add water. Too hot outside? Add water. Our favorites include:
- Grab a package of Bunch O Balloons and let the kids go crazy. Keep the stem attached to the hose when they’re gone, and enjoy a fun sprayer or sprinkler!
- Popsicles or paint in the bath! Less mess and more fun! (Double whammy: the paint recipe is also great for driveway painting because it dries like chalk!)
Sensory bins to the rescue
Sensory bins are so versatile and can be adapted for any age! You can spend big bucks or use what you have on hand for an engaging experience. It can be as simple as dirt from the backyard and a toy washing station or as intricate as rainbow rice filler with themed manipulatives. This boredom buster can keep my kids entertained for more than 10 minutes, which is a huge feat. If playing inside, opt for towels or a cheap shower curtain liner underneath to avoid a hefty clean-up.
Scavenger hunts for the little mateys
Grab a fun scavenger hunt from Teachers Pay Teachers aimed at your kiddo’s age level, or create your own. I usually do this on the fly and utilize my mad drawing skills for the clues since my kids are too young to read. We’ve done nature scavenger hunts, grocery store scavenger hunts, and even ones to find a missing toy or household item where the “winner” gets a prize. Works like a charm.
Bring the littles into the kitchen
I used to be the mom who wanted everyone to stay out of my way when cooking. My little guys always wanted to help, which would just stress me out and cause more work. But I’ve learned to embrace the messy chaos (most days) that goes along with kitchen helpers. I love that they’re learning new skills and making memories with me. I purchased a learning tower, kid’s knives, and some other tools I wouldn’t mind them using. Sometimes I just give them something random to chop while I’m bee-bopping around. Other times they’re more involved with tasks like mixing, shaking spices, or punching in the stove temperature. You can also make a day of it by preparing everything in the kitchen and heading out with your goodies for a picnic to extend the fun!
Last but not least: Screen time
These days it seems like screen time has a bad rap everywhere you turn. It’ll rot their brain! They’ll be addicted! That’s only for lazy parents! Guilt. Guilt. Guilt. But just like everything, there’s a time and a place—screen time, whether a tablet or TV, can be a helpful boredom buster and educational tool. My argument is that screens aren’t going away for our kids, so they might as well become familiar with them and learn to use them responsibly and with restrictions. Our favorite screen time boredom busters include:
- National Geographic series on Disney+
- Learn with Homer (ages 2-8) or Khan Academy (all ages)
- Cosmic Kids for movement and mindfulness
- A good, old-fashioned, family-friendly movie with popcorn and a treat
We’d love for you to try out some of these ideas when you need to avoid hearing, “I’m so bored!” this summer or anytime!