Simplify Boredom (Kid Edition!)

Okay, okay I know I’m not likely going to cure boredom for every kid out there and that’s not my intent. My goal here is to help YOU and your sanity by sharing some tips I’ve found over the years of simplifying kids’ boredom. I won’t lie, the core of almost every boredom cure for kids is the art of distraction. Your skill level with distracting your kids is your key to staying sane. Distraction is the key here people! Read on for some examples and you will see what I mean…

Types of boredom

Let’s start by simplifying and identifying what type of boredom your kids are experiencing so you can figure out how to put your ninja distraction skills to the test! Here are the main types that I’ve identified and attempted to tackle over the years:

  • Pent up energy and no outlet boredom
  • Stuck in the same day to day routine boredom
  • Tired of everything they own boredom

Why does that matter?

Right about now you are likely thinking this post is going nowhere and is just vague..don’t give up on it yet! Knowing what your kid is feeling really does make a difference with how you help solve their dilemma of being bored as a gourd. Can your doctor just prescribe a magic cure all medicine without first figuring out what ails you? Nope to the nope nope. Same concept here on a much smaller and less life threatening scale. Well, maybe not less life threatening in your kid’s eyes because they are obviously so bored they could just die of boredom (cue dramatic sigh from your kid and eye roll from yourself).

Get it, got it, good. Moving on to examples!

Pent up energy and no outlet:

I’m going to tackle the first kind of boredom as that’s presently what I’m dealing with thanks to Mother Nature deciding that endless snowmaggedon storms and sub zero temperatures would be a super fun way to end the winter and start off spring. As a result, this mother was at her wit’s end trying to find outlets for her kid’s equally endless high metabolism and off the chart energy levels. I’m going to preface all this by saying I have a six year old daughter but I know that regardless of age or gender, most kids all struggle with feeling bored when they can’t play outside.

When stuck inside, distract the kids by creating a new spaces inside so they don’t miss the outside world. Wait..wha?? For example, clear out a space in that spare bedroom no one uses and your kid likely never plays in. Or your bedroom or your basement or whatever. Throw in all your spare pillows and blankets and challenge your kid to make the biggest pillow pit possible so they can (harmlessly) jump into it or make the ultimate “fort” to play in or set up that tent that’s collecting dust in your storage room or garage. This forces your kid to use their brain (mental energy) and be active (physical energy). Bonus, you now have the rest of the house to yourself (woohoo!) and you have all the pillows and comforters off the beds so may as well toss the sheets in the laundry 😉 You are now the cool parent and likely feeling like a genius and accomplished for getting some cleaning done while curing boredom for the day!

Stuck in the same day to day routine:

You can’t really blame kids for feeling this way, most adults get sick and tired of the rut they have somehow become stuck in. Let’s distract our kids and ourselves at the same time from the “norm” and get a little spontaneity back in our lives! I don’t ever want my kid to feel bored but, when she does, I always secretly hope it’s this kind of boredom because then the cures end up being amazing for me too! Now what am I talking about? Read on friends!

Let’s say every day after work you pick the kid(s) up, come home, eat dinner, give them a bath, read a book, and put them to bed. Sleep. Repeat. Fun right? Sometimes it can be but mostly it’s just necessities that have formed into a routine. Shake things up with a little planning ahead. Pack a picnic dinner and blanket and a stack of books and, instead of going straight home, go to a park or playground and let your kid exert some of their extra energy. When they eventually tire themselves out, spread out the blanket and eat them relax by reading together. Too cold or cruddy outside for that? What about still skipping going straight home and taking a detour to the library? Most libraries have dedicated kid sections with toys and electronics so your kid can again use some mental energy and also get a nice mini social outing and meet new kids. Hint: if you haven’t read my last post about Simplifying Extra Time please do so and see how library trips can benefit you as well as your kid(s)!

What about morning routines? Same concept, different ideas. Instead of shoving dry cereal into a baggie and tossing it at your kid in the car on the way to drop them off, try getting up a half hour early once in a blue moon and go “out” for breakfast. Here’s the best part, most kids think any sort of restaurant (cough cough drive through fast food cough cough) is “going out to eat”. That means you don’t have to rouse the household two hours early and shuffle everyone’s cranky self to a sit down restaurant for breakfast. How fun would it be as a kid to get to go out to eat before school and do something so out of the norm? Dunkin Donuts, McDonald’s, Hy-Vee, etc…all have quick items to grab and you can eat in or even run out to pick it up and surprise everyone when they wake up! You are once again transformed into the cool parent and, huge bonus here, you are likely now caffeinated with some take out coffee before facing another day at work!

Tired of everything they own:

Why is it that kids throughout every generation have become more and more focused on stuff? With that increased focus, the amount of stuff they accumulate also increases. And with more stuff, one would assume there would be less boredom. HA! Remember the good ol’ days growing up when we only had a fraction of the toys and games that our kids today enjoy? As kids ourselves we got bored with our few toys just like our kids today get bored with their many toys. Doesn’t matter what you have, it’s what you are used to having and, after a while, it gets boring! Ready for the key? Make them use their stuff in different ways!

My absolute favorite tip with doing this is to create obstacle courses using items they use every day or haven’t used in months. Take that puzzle they never get around to finishing and make it part of the obstacle course that they have to put 4 pieces together before moving onto the next stage. After a couple rounds of the course, that puzzle will be done..like magic! What about those stairs they trudge up and down every day? Those are suddenly the starting line to the race portion of the obstacle course! You must run up the stairs but can’t step on the ones with the red paper laying on them or you have to start over! Know how tired kids get from racing up and down stairs? I do and I love it!!! Look on Pinterest for obstacle course ideas using toys or household items and you’ll be shocked at the ideas you can easily put together! Jump rope? Lay it out in a crazy line and kid has to balance on it. Frisbee? Have to toss it from where it lays into the laundry basket. Easter basket and eggs leftover from years past? Have to toss five eggs in the basket or find 2 of the hidden eggs (Easter egg hunts NOT on Easter? I know, don’t yell at me..it’s fun any time as a kid trust me!). Masking tape? Have to jump on the Xs on the floor and spin in the box made from tape lines on the floor. Get where I’m going here?

Final favorite example is to create scavenger hunts. This is great because it can be educational, time consuming, and interesting. Here are some clues I’ve given: find 3 (round or square or soft) things from the basement, find 1 thing in the kitchen that starts with the same letter as your name, find 2 orange items in your room, find a stuffed animal you forgot you had, find a board game or puzzle you want to play with me later, find 2 things that rhyme. I usually don’t get too complicated with these and have one clue lead to the next, I just say let’s see if you can make it through ten clues then we will have a snack together and see what you found! The big thing with this is to make your kid think and also make them run all over the house and back. This will almost inevitably end up with your kid coming across something they had that they forgot about and they want to play with. Curing boredom AND making them realize they have lots of fun stuff if they would just look around=winning!

Boredom…be gone!

I sincerely hope this post didn’t lead to boredom on your part and I can only pray that it sparked a few ideas for you and your kid(s). Boredom is a part of life but it doesn’t have to be a regular part. Thanks for reading today and please share with anyone you know who is struggling with boredom cures for the littles in their lives. Also, feel free to comment and share any tried and true tips you have on this topic!

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