A Pediatrician’s Answer to “Mom … I’m bored.”

Carleen Hanson, MD

Dr. Hanson, Pediatrician, Meriter West Washington

“Mom, I’m bored.”

“There’s nothing to do.”

We’ve all heard it, sometimes daily, sometimes hourly. However, with National Screen-Free Week coming up April 30 – May 6, 2012, I thought it would be helpful to give a list of activities to do to keep the whole family occupied while the TV, computer and other electronics are off.  Of course, these are fun ideas for year round, so keep the list handy, even after Screen-Free Week.

  • Plant some veggies – either outside or in a container.
  • Make a scavenger hunt – my kids LOVE doing this. I am not a great artist, but I draw items from around the house or outside on little squares of paper, and my children get a kick trying to figure out the clues and running from clue to clue. For the older kids, you can do little riddles for them to figure out (for example, “Hickory, Dickory Dock, the mouse ran up the               “).
  • Go for a walk. You can do all sorts of things to mix it up a little:
    • Bring a bottle of bubbles, a piece of chalk, or a ball.
    • Pick a certain item, such as bird feeders, to keep count of as you walk.
    • Turn the walk into a game of follow of leader. The goofier the walk, the more the kids seem to enjoy it.
    • Bring an empty bag and pick up litter.
  • Make a store in the house and pretend to go shopping. My kids like labeling items with pretend price tags. Draw some pretend money or use real coins to practice math too.
  • Have a picnic. Let your kids help prepare the meal and choose some of the items to bring. If it’s raining, lay out a blanket inside and have an indoor picnic. Sometimes, this is even more fun!
  • Teach your kids your favorite childhood card games, such as War, Slap Jack, Crazy 8’s, Kings Corner, or Classic Solitaire.
  • Go to the park.
  • Play bubble ball. This is a game my son made up. You need a baseball bat (the plastic kind works great for this), a bottle of bubbles, and lots of space without other people around. I blow the bubbles, and my son runs around hitting them with his bat, laughing hysterically.
  • Cook or bake something together:
    • Homemade pizzas are a popular choice in my house.
    • Tacos are also fun since there’s a lot of little prep work and the kids can individualize their own serving.
    • My kids love making bread as they have fun kneading the dough, and punching it down after it rises.
    • Play-dough is another fun, easy thing to make at home.
  • Go to the library and read some books.
  • Look at who has birthdays coming up and make some homemade birthday cards. If you’re really ambitious, you can make homemade wrapping paper out of paper bags.
  • Go for a bike ride (with helmets, of course).
  • Make puppets out of old sock or paper bags. Hide behind the couch and have a puppet show.
  • Color with chalk outside. The possibilities are endless:
    • It’s fun to trace your child’s body and then have him or her add the details such as the face and clothing.
    • Another fun idea is to randomly write the letters of the alphabet over your driveway and then have your child go from letter to letter in order.  You can do this with numbers too.
    • Hopscotch is a classic fun game that you can add twists to – my daughter likes it if we don’t stop at 10, we just keep on going down the sidewalk.
    • For kids who like vehicles, draw your own city, complete with roads, parking lots, gas stations and various buildings – add a few Hot Wheels, and you’re set.
  • Have a fashion show. Let your kids raid their closets and yours to come up with some fun outfits for the whole family. Kids love doing their parents hair/makeup. Put on some music and come up with some fun runway walks. Don’t forget the camera.

Most importantly, enjoy your time together.

Dr. Carleen Hanson
Meriter West Washington

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