Ideas to keep children occupied and happy and boredom at bay

Even if your children are good at amusing themselves most of the times, there may come a day when they get bored. That is when parents have to find ways to keep them occupied.

Try a couple of these ideas here and the boredom will soon be a distant memory.

Children love playing with other children of their own age so if you can, try to arrange some play dates for them.

Parents generally love play dates as it gives them a couple of hours of peace either when the child is at another house or when he is being entertained in his own house by a friend.

Children also love the special attention they get when their own parents play with them. Don’t worry if you aren’t very creative; your children aren’t measuring your imaginative capabilities.

If it is a nice day, take your child out exploring. If you live near a beach, go visit it even if the sun isn’t shining. Children don’t care about getting a little wet – so long as it is not a torrential downpour, a little rain won’t hurt them.

Children also love messing about in the sand. Younger ones will build sandcastles while the older ones will dig moats or play ball games.

Bring a picnic with you as the combination of sea air and exercise will lead to hungry tummies!

Children also love playing with water either swimming in the sea or in a pool. If you opt for the pool, you could take your child to a structured swimming class or else go as a family group.

If swimming isn’t convenient but the weather is nice, take your child out to the local park and play some ball games. Ball games are great fun but they also help teach sharing and team building while developing eye-hand co-ordination and balance.

If your child is small, you may find that he crawls to the ball as this is quicker than walking.

Don’t stress out about how dirty he is getting or what he is crawling in. Children need exposure to dirt and germs as it helps to build up their immune system.

I would suggest, however, that you only allow him to play in a dog-free zone.

If you like gardening, why not take the children out to the back garden. Most youngsters, particularly the younger ones, love to do what mummy and daddy do.

You can give them an area for their “own” garden. Just remember that most children lack patience so whatever you choose to grow, make it fast growing. An example of something that is easy and low maintenance would be cress or radishes. You can cheat by buying a couple of herb plants to plant in between.

For older children, you can let them grow carrots or potatoes in grow bags and small containers. My son loves sunflowers simply as they grow so much taller than him.

Studies also show that children eat more vegetables and fruit if they have grown them themselves.

So, if you like to cook, get your children to help. Younger children can still help you cook – let them stir the bowl and maybe even lick the spoon when you are finished.

If the weather is awful, why not head to the local library. Reading is one of the best educational things you can do for your children.

Not only are you helping them improve their education but you are also opening up a wonderful world of make-believe that may well go with them through adulthood. After all, most Harry Potter readers are quite a bit older than the original intended audience.

You could rent a DVD and make some popcorn and throw your own ‘cinema’ evening. While resorting to the TV all day every day is not good for children, the odd hour here and there never hurt anyone.

Dust off some old board games and sit down as a family to play. Just pick a game that is age appropriate or you may find the boredom quickly turns to frustration and temper tantrums.

Don’t try to overdo it on the educational front though. Children are supposed to have fun playing and will learn something from all sorts of situations.

Rachel Goodchild is a presenter and writer specialising in relationships of every concoction from family to dating. Her book Eighty Eight Dates was released by Penguin in Feb 2009, and she is currently appearing on TV3 in New Zealand for “Rachel Goodchild’s Good Advice”

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