Summer is fast approaching, but with COVID-19, kids are already home from school and have been for a while. That means that they’re already bored with all of their toys, games, sidewalk chalk, roller skates, Fortnite, or whatever kids are into these days. A lot of them have probably turned to staring at screens for long periods of time.
As a parent, you probably don’t want your kid using their screens too much. They’ll have plenty of time to do that as adults… But that doesn’t change the fact that right now, there aren’t many options available to all the well-meaning parents out there. Most zoos and museums are closed and if you want to go out into nature, you have to find nature without lots of people (which if you live along the Wasatch Front, you know isn’t easy to do). So, what can you do with your child(ren) at home?
Like I said, there is a good chance you’ve already exhausted this option. That is, you’ve already played the games you own. But what about making one of your own?
You can do this just by customizing a game you already have. For example, replace the people in Guess Who? with pictures of friends and family or even celebrities or fictional characters your child likes. That way you can ask questions like, “Is your person famous despite having no discernible talent?” (Spoiler: the other person has a Kardashian)
If you’re in the mood to be more creative, try making up a new game. Work with your kids to design and make it. That alone will keep them entertained for a while. Then you can play the game together.
This is a fun challenge for kids who have a lot of Legos and a lot of time. Set up your child in front of a pile of Legos, blindfold them, and give them a few minutes to build something. Whether you give them something specific to build or have them go nuts is up to you. There are a bunch of different ways you can play this, so the game can go on for ages.
Ah, that old fall back, tie-dye. This is a way to make something creative and practical. You can use an old piece of clothing, or go and get a new one, just as long as it is white. There are a million tie-dye kits out there that you can use. I would suggest doing this outside, as it can get a little messy.
This is another one of those activities that has a bunch of different ways that you can do it. The main thing is to compile a list (or find one online) of things for your child to go and find. You can theme it after books, so they have to go through their picture books to find everything on the list. Theme it after your backyard or neighborhood. That way, they get outside and get moving. Try incentivizing it. For example, if they find x number of things on the list within x amount of time, they get a popsicle. However, you want to do it, it can be a lot of fun!
This is a broad suggestion. But that is only because it really depends on your child’s interest. Have a kid who likes dolls? Make paper dolls with them. Maybe even a whole wardrobe and house. Have a child who likes science? Make a vinegar and baking soda volcano. Here at Avant8, we’ve been digging this paper plate UFO from Woo Jr. It’s cute and timely.
It’s easy to find instructions on how to do different crafts online. Plus, many of these crafts use things you probably already have at home, so you probably won’t need to run to the store.
Of course, you may not have time to do a bunch of activities with your kids. That is completely understandable. After all, many of us are working from home, and can’t necessarily take breaks to help our kids make a tie-dye shirt. But there are options to keep your kids entertained and your hands free to work. My favorite is audiobooks. If your kids like being read to audiobooks are a great option. You can set them up with the book and some coloring supplies, Legos, or whatever.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Audiobooks are just as expensive as regular books, I don’t have the cash to buy a bunch of them right now.” And you’re right, audiobooks are priced in a way I don’t fully understand. But this is just another example of why libraries are society’s saving grace. Most libraries offer some sort of audiobook app (the Salt Lake County libraries use Libby). These apps are free and available for use by those who have a library card (though standard library rules do apply; they only have so many copies, and the book has a due date).
I recommend the Harry Potter audiobooks. The narrator, Jim Dale, does a great job.
Offer to teach
A lot of these activities are not going to be quite as popular with older kids. If you have a bored preteen or teen, try asking them if there is anything they want to learn how to do. A lot of teenagers don’t know how to cook, garden, or change the oil in the car, but there are plenty who would like to know and would almost teach themselves if given a bit of guidance.
A bit of advice: offer to teach them something, but maybe don’t offer suggestions. Bursting into your teen’s room and saying, “Come on kid, I’m going to teach you how to garden,” may end up sounding like chores to them, even if they are interested.
These suggestions won’t cure your child’s boredom forever, but hopefully, they’ll help stave it off for a little while. At the very least, you’ll get a break from listening to Frozen 2 for the millionth time.