“I’m so bored,” my seven-year-old daughter recently lamented. Looking around at the shelves and cubbies stocked with every sort of childhood entertainment, I replied with a mix of exasperation and frustration: “You can’t be bored. Look at all this stuff you have to play with.”
Yet, the whining continued, which then spiralled into bickering between her and her five-year-old sister. It was time to get creative.
I herded everyone down to the basement, a space mostly used for storage and overflow. Within minutes, the girls were deeply engrossed in an imaginative game where two princesses were trapped in a deep, dark dungeon. I thought, well, that was easy.
Kids are methodical, but sometimes routines can get stale. Here are a few ways to inject a little spontaneity into your kids’ lives.
When time permits, or on weekends, let your little one take her bath or shower in the morning instead of the evening. Or how about mid-day bath? Bedtime can be a stressful, rushed routine for many families, so occasionally rescheduling a bath is one less thing to worry about.
If a nighttime bath is a must, try letting them pick out their own outfit for the day. Tank top in the winter? Why not? Just layer it over a long sleeve tee. Kids will get excited to use their favorite summer staples all year round and off-season clothes need not be banned to storage.
I recently switched up the placement of my kids’ car seats. Let’s just say, it blew their minds. Who knew that looking out the opposite window of the car would make for such an enjoyable commute? I’ve also found taking a different route to a common destination, like school, can be exciting. Call it the scenic route, an exploration or a fun adventure.
Other fun ideas could be switching up methods of transportation. Try walking instead of driving to nearby places, such as school drop off.
One of the best tips I’ve gotten is to always have a backup arsenal of toys. After birthdays and holidays, I often snatch away one or two items for times when boredom strikes. Try routinely rotating toys from your child’s play area. When new ones are brought out after being away for months, it’s like a whole new toy factory in your home. Likewise, swap toy bins in the playroom—trucks now reside on the bottom shelf in the blue bin, and blocks are now on top in the red bin. Small changes can make a big difference in the eyes of young children.
Dinner can be monotonous—even for adults. Why not switch things up by offering breakfast food in the evening? My kids’ reactions to this were a mix of surprise and utter amazement. Changing your environment can also keep things fresh. Try a picnic lunch on the living room floor, or even take your food outside when the weather is nice. Prefer to stick to the dining room table? No problem. Let your kids choose where they want to sit or let them take turns sitting at the head of the table.
Rotating a bed or moving a dresser—items kids tend to view as stationary—is nothing short of incredible. If the space doesn’t allow for a full transformation, kids can still experience a fresh twist on sleeping by rotating themselves. Suggest they lay with their head at the foot of the bed or even sideways! Put a sleeping bag on top of the bed so your little one can “camp out” right in their own room.
This article was originally published online in October 2019.