Family life

Ask Sarah: How to Survive Without Routine

Parenting expert Sarah Rosensweet shares strategies to help combat boredom that can come as the summer winds down and kids have been out of routine.

Ask Sarah: How to Survive Without Routine


Struggling with tantrums, bedtime boundaries, or simply wondering how to raise happy, confident kids? Sarah Rosensweet offers peaceful parenting advice to help families find balance.

Have a question for Sarah? Send us an email at

Q: My seven and three-year-old are unravelling with the lack of routine this summer and are constantly telling me they are bored.

We're at the point where all the big plans have happened, and the days are getting harder and harder to fill. Is extra screen time and basic survival through the day okay, or will that make it even harder come September?

kids leaning against a window looking bored iStock

A: I am not the screen police. If you feel you need to use it to get work done or preserve your sanity, I won’t judge you.

The more you rely on screens to entertain kids, the harder it is for them to think of things to do independently and play independently.

When my kids were little and said they were bored, I would often invite them to join me to help with whatever I was doing or suggest a chore. They would usually grumble and then find something else to do.

A couple of tips if that doesn’t work:

  1. Fill their connection cups before you want them to play on their own. Spend 15-20 minutes playing with them, and then excuse yourself to go and [insert].
  2. Rotate toys. The novelty of a toy you haven’t seen in a few weeks can be compelling.
  3. Brainstorm a list of things they like to do that you can refer to when they can’t think of anything to do.
  4. Empathize, but don’t be too serious. Validate their feelings by saying, “It’s hard, isn’t it, to think of stuff to do all day?” and then throw in something ridiculous to get them laughing, “I hope you’re not so bored that you clean the bathroom by mistake.”

A little boredom never hurt anyone- it provides the space they need to figure out something to play with.

Need support with other parenting challenges? Our Ask Sarah series covers topics like how to help with anxiety and build confidence, how to reduce bedtime struggles and how to prepare for playdates.


Sarah Rosensweet is a certified peaceful parenting coach, speaker, and educator. She lives in Toronto with her husband and her 15 and 18-year-old kids. Her 22-year-old son has launched.

Peaceful parenting is a non-punitive, connection-based approach that uses firm limits with lots of empathy. Sarah works one-on-one virtually with parents all over the world to help them go from frustrated and overwhelmed to “we’ve got this!”


Sarah offers a free course, How To Stop Yelling At Your Kids, so that you can be the parent you want to be. Read more at:  or listen to her top-rated parenting podcast, The Peaceful Parenting Podcast, wherever you get your podcasts!

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