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Our Favourite Ways to Alleviate Boredom

As a parent, it's not an easy job to keep your children constantly entertained. Instead of looking for new activity ideas, try teaching them how to play by themselves


How often do you hear "I'm bored" in your house? I don't remember having time to feel bored when I was a child, between homework, playing with my brothers, and helping around the house, and that half hour of TV we were allowed to watch once everything else was done. We knew how to entertain ourselves with whatever we had around us. We spent entire days building forts and tree houses, and creating plays to put on for our parents and their friends.

How times have changed

But, things have changed. I remember nannying for a family and being surprised by the number of activities they had on, and by the fact that the children had no idea what they wanted to do. They needed to be spoon-fed activities all day long, and at the end of the day they would still tell me they were bored. So we went back to basics... It took a while to catch on, but eventually we had a breakthrough.

I had been helping the eldest child with her homework, and had told the others we would go to the park when we were finished, but they had to entertain themselves until then. I realised I hadn't heard a peep from the little ones in what felt like ages, so I peeked into the playroom and was surprised and delighted to see that not only were they both building a fantasy world with a combination of Lego, Barbie, Duplo and anything else they could find in the cupboard, but they were working together. I even had protests when I said it was time to go to the park - our compromise was that they could leave everything where it was and come back to it later.

Boredom is a tricky one because some individuals get bored faster than others, but here are a few suggestions to help you banish the 'b' word from your house.

A list of activities

Alleviate boredom by making a list together of activities to do without a grown upIf you have little ones who prefer to ask what to do, rather than think for themselves, help them create a list of activities they can do on their own or with their siblings, without the help of an adult. This can include things as simple as reading a book and building a fort, or playing hairdresser and completing a puzzle.

When someone tells you they're bored, you can go through the list and see if they've tried any of those things. Make sure you revisit the list every now and then as interests change as they grow up.

Chores and rewards 

This is something you'll hear me say all the time. There will be things around the house that every child can help with, and, as they get older, they can graduate on to having more and more responsibility. It's also worth making sure you have something fun planned for after all the chores are completed - I don't know about you, but I work harder when I have something fun planned for after work.

Surprise box

Have a box of new and old things to do. It might be dress ups, or board games or even seeds to plant. When you sense the dreaded 'b' word bubbling to the surface, it's time to go fishing for something to do. Kids will like the element of surprise and you'll be amazed at how quickly they take to backgammon or tiddlywinks!

Down time

Teach your children to entertain themselves when they have nothing on

Between clubs, homework, play dates, and family commitments, how often do your children have nothing on? And I don't even mean time to watch TV, I mean time to reflect, time to take in what's going on around them?

Children today are tuned in and turned on all of the time. How often do they have to think for themselves? How often do they get to experience their surroundings without headphones or a glowing screen? It's no wonder they get bored easily. Without the instant gratification, they don't know what to do with themselves.

Taking time out as a family is a good place to start. On weekends, set aside quiet time, where, for 30 minutes to an hour, everyone tunes out, be it playing on their own, reading a book or just sitting and reflecting. Lead by example, so don't bring out your smartphone and start checking emails, you also need to turn off!

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