You know what’s tricky as a parent?
Dealing with television.
I love a good show as much as the next person, and it’s a STELLAR babysitter for my children, but I feel like the tradeoff is almost never worth it.
If my girls watch a thirty minute show, I might have a little peace and quiet while I make dinner, but I feel like it makes them so grumpy afterward and seems to ruin their ability to think of anything fun to do instead of watching another show.
Plus, I hate the idea of them being dependent on a screen to be entertained and not having the ability to amuse themselves any time there isn’t something fun going on.
So we have very few movies or shows or digital games in our house – we watch a movie on Friday night as a family (and if we start too late, we pause it partway through and finish it on Saturday morning) and some mornings, I let them watch 5 minutes of Daniel Tiger while I do everyone’s hair.
Occasionally, they might play on Starfall or another educational program after school.
Other than that, we try to stick to non-screen entertainment.
Especially things that don’t make them into complete crabbypants afterward.
Here are some of their go-to forms of entertainment to avoid that dreaded “I’m BORED!” statement:
I’m Bored! 7 Fun Things For With Kids Without TV
- A Bath. I don’t use this one as much now that my girls are a little older, but when I had one or two kids, this was one of my favorite ways to burn thirty or forty minutes. Dump a couple of bath toys in and let them go to town. We’re also currently obsessed with these bath color tablets – they’re so inexpensive and so ridiculously delightful.
- Legos. We bought a bin of Legos at a garage sale about seven years ago and they still get played with almost every day. Best $2 we’ve ever spent. All four of my girls love building things together (and, of course, arguing over who gets the best pieces).
- Play Doh. This is the current winner in our house. I bought some glitter Play Doh for my girls’ stockings this year and then bought another set of colors in January and they get played with daily for HOURS. It’s the first thing Tally asks for in the morning when she gets up and after school, my girls will sit around the kitchen table making pizzas and cookies and snowmen until dinner time. We also have a set of Play Doh tools that my mom gave us a few years ago and that is the icing on the cake.
- Dance Party. Thank heavens for Google Home or Alexa! When someone is complaining “I’m bored!,” I just say “Play the High School Musical soundtrack on Spotify” and suddenly everyone is channeling their inner Zac Efron in the living room (I won’t lie, it makes me proud that my children love High School Musical – after this performance all those years ago, I still love that show an embarrassing amount).
- Audiobooks. I mean, who would I even be if I didn’t mention these? When your child needs some quiet entertainment, there is just nothing better. I tuck them in on the couch and turn on something to listen to and they all just calm WAY down. If you’re new to audiobooks, here’s how to introduce them to your child!
- Printed coloring sheets. I do not understand why a page printed off the internet is so much better than a coloring book, but it clearly is and my girls LOVE each picking a Disney Princess coloring sheet and a Disney Princess Pet coloring sheet and then naming them and coloring them and cutting them out and making up songs about them and. . . its just a whole thing that I’m too much of an adult to really get.
- Let them be bored. I learned from my mom that a bored child is nothing to be afraid of. She often said, “Boredom is a homeschool mom’s best friend” because it’s when you’re bored that you start figuring out something fun or creative to do. I remember hours of playing gymnastics boarding school (I don’t even know) with my sisters – thanks heavens we didn’t have any dining room furniture for about five years – and making up elaborate lip sync dances. We played endless games of paper dolls and practiced crocheting and played kickball in the backyard. I think as a parent, it’s so easy to want to make sure your child is NEVER bored, especially because the whining that comes along with it BEFORE they figure out something to do is so deeply annoying. But I’ve discovered that the more I just allow my children to figure out ways to entertain themselves, the stronger those imaginative play muscles get. And no one is as crabby afterward as they would have been if I’d defaulted to turning on a show to avoid a few minutes of whining.
I’d love to hear how your children entertain themselves without TV and how you deal with the “I’m bored!” moments!
If you liked this post about how to deal with “I’m Bored!,” you might also like these posts:
- Can we talk about television for a minute?
- 20+ Fun Activities for Kids While They Listen to Audiobooks
- 11 fun outings when it’s too cold (or hot!) outside
Photos by Heather Mildenstein