Throughout the course of your parenting, there will be innumerable times that your kids are “bored.” Even though they are still fairly young, our boys claim boredom on a regular basis.
For the most part, I just answer, “That’s okay,” because there really isn’t anything wrong with them not being totally entertained all the time. They need “bored” time. It encourages them to be creative, to go find something to do – draw a picture, read a book, day dream, take a nap (they NEVER pick that one!).
However, there are also times when my boys being genuinely bored can lead to trouble, such as when we’re waiting in a doctor’s office for an appointment that was an hour ago. Or if we’re sitting at a restaurant, ready to eat but it’s taking a while for our food to come (this is especially dangerous when one of your children is notorious for getting hangry…yeah, that’s not pretty.)
Basically anytime they are trying to be good but are in a situation that kids just don’t function well in – that’s when I need some surefire engaging activities to keep my boys entertained and distracted so their “boredom” doesn’t become restless craziness or frustrated fighting.
I know that a simple answer is to just hand over a device – my smart phone, their tablet – but honestly, that’s not what I want my kids turning to constantly. With as addictive as electronic devices can be (and you know it’s true…chances are that you are reading this on your mobile…), I don’t want to encourage them as my children’s (or my own) first option when there is some down time.
So, what do I do then when we have to wait patiently in the car for Daddy as he runs in to pick up something at the store, or when we’re on a two-hour road trip?
Here’s a peek into my arsenal of simple ways that I entertain my boys with nothing other than our imaginations. These no-prep games and activities encourage creativity, thought, and communication, as well as ensuring that we’re interacting with each other as a family rather than isolating ourselves in screen time.
(This post contains affiliate links which means that, at no additional cost to you, I may receive a small commission when you use the links. See my full disclosure for details.)
1. “I Spy”/”Bee, Bee, Bumblebee” – This one is a classic. My parents and grandparents played it with me when I was little, and now it’s one of the boys’ go-to time-killing games. You simply have the person who is “it” describe something they can see from where they are, just using the colors that it’s made up of (or you can describe it other ways, too, if your rules allow). Depending on which one you grew up with, the rhymes either go, “I spy with my little eye something that is…” or “Bee, bee, bumblebee. I see something you don’t see, and it is…” Everyone takes turns guessing what is seen. Whoever guesses it first, gets to be the next “seer.”
This game also gets kids to look for details in their often-times mundane surroundings, teaching them that the everyday world probably isn’t as boring as they might think.
2. “Would You Rather” – I’m sure you’ve heard of this conversation starter before (there is even a board game based on it). It has become one of our boys’ favorites, and we often play it during dinner. They love the idea of coming up with unique choices to offer us, such as “Would you rather have no furniture in your house or no bathroom?” or “Would you rather eat only green food or only red food for the rest of your life?” Of course, with boys, their questions can veer into the absurd or disgusting, but as long as they avoid potty humor and excessive grossness or anything inappropriate, we give them creative license.
Not only does this activity make us think as we answer the questions and help us get to know each other a bit better, it also challenges the person asking the question because sometimes coming up with a really good question can be tricky.
Here are some question ideas to get you started.
3. “Charades” – This pantomiming game always makes me think of times when the power went out when we were younger. That, or large gatherings, either with my family at my grandparents’, with friends in youth group, or my dad’s days as a clown and leading a clown ministry (Charades is great for improving improvisational skills).
While this boredom-buster requires a bit more space (since you have to act out what you want the others to guess) and tends to creates more noise (as others call out guesses), it usually produces lots of laughter and silliness, too. For our boys, we keep what their acting out simple for now (animals, everyday activities, etc). As they get older, though, we’ll test their talents with harder words and phrases.
Need some help coming up with ideas? Here’s a list of kid-appropriate charade clues.
4. “Story Tellers” – By far, this is Josiah’s favorite game to play at dinnertime or in the car or any other time. The rules are simple. We make up a story together, with each person taking turns contributing one sentence as a time. This always leads to a…unique… story, as each family members’ personality, preferences, and story-telling style becomes apparent pretty quickly. 🙂
Josiah has a tendency to tell stories with animal characters, Elijah likes to add drama and action, and Brad has an affinity for goofiness and puns, while my job seems to be to keep the story moving along to some kind of happy ending.
The only issue we’ve had with this game is when the initial storyteller starts the tale with a definite plot or idea he wants to stick to, but others can’t read his mind or purposely take it in a different direction. (Brothers…)
5. “Narrating Real Life” –This diversion takes “people watching” to a new level because you either make up their stories about what they are doing or why or provide the “voice-over” to their conversations.
This is a little safer to play when you aren’t really near the people, so preferably when you’re sitting in a car or maybe from far across the park because you don’t want to encourage your kids to point and stare or be seen as the creepers just watching a person. Hahaha.
6. “It Could Be” – Another activity borrowed from my dad’s improv training, this exercise encourages brainstorming and creatively looking at random, ordinary objects. Just grab anything, and start thinking of what else it could be used for (even if just pretend).
For example, a baseball cap can be a cup, a pot, a butterfly net, a catcher’s mask, and more. (Just think of how many things kids can see when you give them big empty cardboard box!)
So, there you go – Six simple ways to interact with your kids and entertain them with only your imaginations.
WHAT ARE SOME GAMES OR ACTIVITIES YOU DO WITH YOUR KIDS WHEN THEY NEED ENTERTAINED?
Get more ideas & encouragement from this real-life mom as I experience God’s faithfulness through the joy and chaos of motherhood.
Join my email list!