Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Unplugged:Ideas For The Bored Kid

Rachel (mom of five boys and one darling girl) and I thought we'd come up with a list of ideas to help keep the troops entertained whilst Unplugged...perfect timing with Spring Break coming up.

Be forewarned: I grew up with this being the idea of how not to be bored: "Go outside. Or read a book."  I can't break free from my old-fashioned upbringing of total self-entertainment responsibility.

I also can't break free from the thought of rotting brains.  That is, if my kids are sitting in front of a TV, or playing a video game (which would be quite difficult because we only have an old broken set, that takes so long to set up it's not worth it), or on any other device where homework isn't being done, there is some alarm that goes off inside me, beeping constantly, saying, "Rotting brain, rotting brain, rotting brain."   Don't get me wrong, my kids DO sometimes rot their brains, but only in emergency situations (like the 14th day of 14 snow days (the worst winter in recorded history since history has been recorded), hyperemesis, or Mom has gone somewhere and Dad is home, yay!)

So if combine my fear of rotting brains with my old-fashioned "find something to do" upbringing I come up with a list like this:

1. Bake.  Yes, there will be a mess, it can be contained.  Whether it's brownies, or cookies, or hot pretzels, or an easy concoction that are really called Resurrection rolls but somehow were renamed Jesus rolls in our house.  This can keep one or two kids busy, and it can be as easy following directions on a box.  (And it's not just for girls, my boys love it also.)

2. Bike, scooter, Big Wheel obstacle courses.  We seem to have this sort of thing going on all summer long.  Sidewalk chalk is a must-for roads and signs and "how much air did you get on this one" contests.

3. Hide-n-seek.  Great in the dark too.  Inside or out.


4. Lego/Duplo villages.  The photo above is a Lego village that covers an entire table top-Andrew and Patrick and neighbor friends have been working on it all winter long.

5.  Make a tower of Kapla (or any blocks) as a target and use Nerf guns to knock them down.  Nerf gun wars too-those can get crazy, but have kept many a boy entertained here.

6.  This basketball hoop is the best thing I ever bought and games are played every day for hours.

7.  So this might not be something the kids yell, "Pick me, pick me!", but giving Sammy a show dog grooming session could kill a good hour and usually ends up being fun (and productive!).

8.  Good old-fashioned forts.

9.  Games.  I find that kids will play games if one of us gets them interested by playing as a family first. (Or if we are at a friend's house and their kids are into it).  One year "Monopoly Deal" was all the rage, this last year "Tensies" (a really easy dice game) and now my kids are playing Group Solitaire and Rummy.


10.  A yard project, weather permitting.  One year I built this (really easy, no sawing involved) sandbox with the kids (they were little so not really "with" them though they "helped" pick out the wood and dump the sand) and I know because it was a project "we" all did, it made the sandbox a huge hit.

11. Geo-caching. This is so fun...I didn't really "get" this till I read up on it, and a friend helped me (thanks Jane) but it's such a neat idea.  You will need a GPS, but basically other people (and you can too) "hide" things in specified locations around town (around the world?) and you go on a hunt to find them...the fun is in the seeking.  Some are far, but we found a few within biking distance in our little town.
Here's a much better description of what Geo-caching is. 


12. Once, in March, after a long cold winter (but one without any snow), I was desperate (crazy, idiotic, insane, slap-happy, cabin feverish) enough to let the kids sled down the stairs.  No one got hurt (not hurt enough to warrant medical help-which around here means your bleeding out so much a cloth diaper can't keep up, or your arm is hanging by a tendon and I can't stitch it myself, etc.).  I am not saying this is a good idea, just explaining that I understand boredom desperation very very well.

13.  Abbey and her friends loved "sewing" clothes for their stuffed animals and dolls.  Basically it was pieces of felt I had found at a craft store and extra scraps of material, glued (use Stitch Witchery or other fabric glue) and/or safety pins.  Sometimes they even just tied corners together to make little tops or skirts.

15. I had to include this photo too, because one spring break, when we didn't go anywhere "fun" our backyard flooded so badly (that's usually grass-we didn't realize we had a drain that had been covered by dead leaves) after a torrential down pour.  Andrew waded back to the shed and got out Jeff's kayak and paddle and had a great time in our beautiful back yard "pond".  


I guess the lesson in that is they'll find something to do.  If not, I have a bunch of jobs.... :)

23 comments:

  1. Such great ideas! I'd love love to know how you made your sandbox!

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  3. This is such a great list! I'm a firm believer in allowing kids to get bored enough to be creative... Or read a good old fashioned book :)

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  4. Read this on feedly and had to come and say, what a great post!! Thank you for posting it. Off to look at the recipe for Jesus Rolls now. :)

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  5. The sandbox is awesome! My husband built one with about $10 in materials and it is still in the backyard. We always said that was better than the swingset or the Little Tykes playground! All ages love to play in it! I love all your suggestions for unplugging. It is so hard for our kids, it seems, to entertain themselves like we did. Leave it to Andrew to take advantage of your lake! I missed geocaching this past summer because we were without our borrowed GPS. I'm hoping that we can enjoy that again this summer.

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  6. Great post! We have a small sandbox that everyone fights over. Great idea to build a big one on your own. What did you put down on the bottom of the box? A large piece of plywood? Spring will show her pretty face soon!

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    1. Hi Sarah-I just put a landscape weed material stapled to boards. It has worked well.

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  7. These are wonderful ideas! My brother and I would slide down our staircase all the time...more I think when my mom wasn't home! But it is one of my favorite memories with my brother! Though slightly dangerous...still so much better than rotting in front of the television!

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  8. Haha! The backyard kayaking is awesome!

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  9. Love the ideas and wanted to add some that work well here...homemade playdough or purchased clay, shrinky dinks (remember those?), big jug of vinegar and a carton of baking soda along with some plastic containers for explosions and volcanoes, games of horse/pig using the basketball hoop, we play a troll game here where the kids have to get past mom as the troll on their bikes/scooters without getting tagged, good old fashioned scavenger hunts with my lame-o clues are fun, and if you can get a big enough group around my kids love capture the flag. I'm not much for playdates, so in the nice weather if we have some down time, I'll take the kids to the local park and they can usually find a friend or two to play with and I can relax and read (or sometimes not and I'm pushing them on the swings, coming up with ninja missions where they scale the playground obstacles). Lately remote control cars are a big hit here too...and years ago the girls used to like to build fairy houses outside. Gardening is another good one in the nicer weather, and I swear in the warm weather when my kids have had it, giving them the go ahead and the equipment to wash the cars (and the dogs, and the plastic ride on toys etc) always was a mood changer/boredeom eraser although nothing remained dry in the front yard (ie close doors/windows, suggest changes of clothes and towels handy)

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  10. The boys I used to babysit were fond of sliding down the stairs in their sleeping bags. It was a lot of fun and they assured me their mom would slide down with them so I could too. Then once I went to their house and there was brass vase sitting at the bottom of the stairs covering the hole where their mom had put her foot through the wall. That put an end to me doing it with them, but what a fun house full of memories and laughter.

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  11. Thanks for posting this. We just had some meltdown at our house over the "electronics limits" in place for Spring break. Then, no miracle to me, a happier child was seen later that evening having accomplished several good things, and feeling better about himself than just "rotting his brain," exactly my thoughts on that too. We're going on a picnic this week to a lake no matter the weather, though it should be decent. Getting my kids outside is always a big goal of mine too.

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  12. Two things my girls loved (and neighbors/other family members) growing up were taking old cardboard boxes (broken down) and "sledding" down our grassy hill (hill required, tree dad planted in the middle of their path-not so much) and making houses out of other boxes for their dolls, stuffed animals, army men (boys) to play in. Great for using up all of extra scraps from other art projects.

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  13. Love this list! So great. Thank you.

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  14. Thanks Sarah! So many great ideas. LOVE your sandbox. Can't wait to try and duplicate that. xo

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  15. Love this post! I really don't like tv or video games and sometimes I feel like the ONLY mom in the world who feels that way. Thanks for always standing firm in who you are as a mom, it gives others the strength to do the same. Thanks for all the fun ideas, too!

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  16. Thank you so much for sharing your list! I couldn't agree more! We are not big on electronics here and my kids prefer to play outside and read. I would love to hear your take on cell phones and texting. My soon to be 12 year old seems to have lots of friends that have them all ready and when I state that we have not intentions of getting him one anytime soon that is often met with a negative responsive from other parents. Loved this post!!

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  17. Sandbox is amazing... and what a flood! We've had flooded gardens here this year too, though not quite enough to get the kayak out!! It strikes me that much of your list is about being creative with what you have as well, and making the most of the situation. Love this, and look forward to having my own "creative self-amusement" stories to tell as the girls grow. Thank you for your blog. I started reading it when feeding my eldest daughter in the middle of the night, and two-and-a-half years later, its still my all time favourite. So appreciate you.x

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  18. Love these ideas! Just yesterday my 10 year old son made cookie dough all by himself. (he likes the dough better than the cooked cookies :-) It was a bit of a mess but it took up a nice big chunk of a chilly afternoon.

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  19. Man I was just thinking last night how when my little boy (17 months) handed me the remote-it's gotten out of hand! I just never thought about how leaving the tv on in the background (even muted!) made his attention waver from other activities.

    Nicole B.

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  20. Thanks! We can always use ideas. One thing on my mind lately though... How do you deal with fighting amongst your kids? Or do they never fight? My kids get along for the most part, but there is always some fighting (usually in the afternoon, when they are both tired). Lately I've been putting them to work when they get to the point that it can't be solved amongst themselves. Do you have any tricks/tips/ideas?

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  21. I'm 41 years old and would love to go kayaking in your backyard! Seriously, great ideas and a lot of fun!

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  22. I love your list. Great ideas!
    And, what a wonderful memory for your son of kayaking in the backyard. Fun stuff!

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