Over the summer, without classmates or schoolwork, many children find themselves a little bored. This year, when children have already been out of school for so long and may not be able to enjoy summer camps, vacations or their regular activities, boredom may be even worse.
"Due to COVID-19 and social distancing measures, children and their families may face new challenges this summer. Planning ahead is key in order to enjoy valuable time together," says Cecilia Mendiola, Senior Child Life Specialist at Children's Health℠. "Activities such as drawing, painting and journaling are some of the ways that children can express their feelings and help promote positive coping during this time."
Even though this summer might not look like what you or your child envisioned, Mendiola suggests you can still help your child have a fun and fulfilling summer with these tips.
Summer boredom busters
1. Create a routine
A routine helps shape your child's day and week, helping them understand what to expect and establishing a sense of normalcy. While you don't need a strict schedule, a reliable routine gives your children – and you – something to look forward to.
One way to have a fun routine is to have themed activities for each day or week. For instance, Monday can become "Music Mondays," where your children take virtual lessons in the afternoon or have a dance party in the evening. Or, you may have "Wet Wednesdays" with a fun time in a sprinkler or pool. Let your children help you determine what each day will be, so they feel invested in the fun and help you think of activities.
2. Try new hobbies
This summer is a perfect time to take up a new hobby. Talk to your kids about their possible interests to learn what might work for them. Many kids enjoy hobbies such as:
- Playing music
- Computer programming
- Knitting or sewing
Finding a hobby your child is passionate about can help keep them be entertained for hours all summer long.
3.Set summer goals
Talk with your child about setting a measurable, achievable goal for the summer, whether it is reading a certain number of books, a physical fitness goal or learning all about a topic like dinosaurs.
Help them measure their goal throughout the summer with weekly check-ins or fun charts. This can help keep them motivated to move toward their goal.
4. Keep moving
Physical activity has numerous benefits, from improving sleep and preventing weight gain. Many outdoor activities, such as playing in the yard or taking a family walk, are easily done while practicing social distancing. You can also try activities, such as:
- Dance parties
- Relay races
- Jump rope
- Simon Says
- Follow the Leader
- Kid-friendly workout videos
- Blowing and chasing bubbles
5. Make an activity jar
Sometimes, it's just hard to decide what to do or kids can argue about which activity is best. Take the stress out of it by leaving activities up to chance with a boredom buster jar. Have each family member write down activities they would like to do on sheets of paper. Activities might include:
- Scavenger hunt
- Fort building
- Water balloon fight
- Running through a sprinkler
- Bike riding
When you find that everyone is sitting around bored, pull an activity out of the jar and do it.
6. Plan an adventure
Just because you are social distancing doesn't mean you have to stay inside or even at home. You simply need to take precautions like bringing masks and visiting places that make it easy to stay far apart from others. Plan ahead and make a list of possible options, such as:
- Go to parks or hiking trails
- Visit historical landmarks or sites
- Do a scavenger hunt through your neighborhood or town
- Visit murals in your city
- Got to a drive-in movie theatre
Consider kayaking, canoeing or boating, with the right safety equipment. You can also research camping – whether at a nearby site or in your backyard. See considerations for safe travel during COVID-19.
7. Tackle a project together
Many people are taking this time at home to improve their homes. If you've meant to repaint a room or landscape your patio, this is a perfect way to get kids involved.
Enlist your child's help with a house project: Kids may not enjoy this one as much, but it definitely prevents boredom. Involve them in a house project such as cleaning out a closet or redecorating a room – whatever you need help with and you think they can handle at their age.
8. Go virtual
Many camps, museums, libraries, zoos and classrooms have moved online. Help your child find virtual activities they love like story times, concerts or guided online tours. Keep a schedule of these and add them into your routine for easy, repeated activities.
You can also make an effort to stay connected virtually with friends and family. Schedule times to connect throughout the week.
9. Give back
We're all in this together. Help your kids help others by giving back to your community in some way. Your child might:
- Donate toys or clothes to those in need
- Mow the lawn of a senior citizen in your neighborhood
- Write letters or create cards to people in nursing homes
- Donate food to a food bank
- Donate blood (if you have teenagers)
- Babysit for medical professionals
- Sew masks for essential workers
Giving back helps your child feel like they are doing good in the world and gets their minds off themselves for a while.
10. Practice self-care
Everyone in the family, parents and children alike, need to practice self-care to help release stress. Ensure that everyone has quiet time for themselves, whether that means going for a jog, taking a nap or spending time in the afternoon reading.
The whole family can also try mindfulness and meditation activities which have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety.
Don't be afraid of boredom
Most importantly, don't feel like you need to fill every second of your child's day. Boredom is a good thing. It can help children gain independence, improve their problem-solving skills and expand their creativity. While it is great to schedule activities, it's also good for your child's development to have them figure out how to deal with their boredom on their own.
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