Keeping kids busy is an exhausting task for parents and caretakers, not to mention the raison d’être of a huge multi-million-dollar industry. Entertaining young ones is not cheap, and almost always demands an endless supply of creativity, which can be a source of additional strain for overworked parents.
So, what to do? Here’s a handy list of game equipment or simple activities you can build for your kids with material readily available around the house or your local arts and crafts store. They are sure to provide hours of fun, even on a tight budget, and will help calm your frazzled nerves.
Upcycling is all the rage nowadays – from furniture to bikes, candles, clothes, kitchen wares – almost everything and anything that once seemed dull and ready to be tossed away can be brought to life with some loving care and a creative eye. Kids adore arts and crafts, and will definitely appreciate the idea that they can transform one of their shirts or shoes into a special piece they personalized. This activity can be as simple or as sophisticated as you want it to be: you can buy some cheap rhinestones and a glue gun for extra sparkle, iron on some fun patches of their choosing, or grab a thread and needle to embroider simple flowers or striped lines onto a t-shirt. Painting shoes is also fun, or learning to tie-dye any piece of apparel is just as cheap and will teach kids a new skill at the same time.
Make the Most of Your Backyard
Do you have a backyard, but not sure what else to do to keep the kids sufficiently entertained once the summer’s over and you have to retire the inflatable pool? The sudden drop in temperature doesn’t mean that kids need to stay glued to their iPads or television sets indoors. There are a variety of backyard games for kids that is sure to keep them occupied, such as learning how to create and fly a kite of their own making, or playing with bubbles – giant bubble wands are especially fun and available in a bunch of different colors and shapes.
You can also design a scavenger hunt for them. Even if the yard is small, it would be fairly simple to draft a list of things they should find: a leaf, an acorn, a dandelion, and so on. Building on that idea, you can also design a treasure hunt by burying the surprise somewhere and drafting a map for them to follow.
Build an Exercise “Machine”
For whatever reason, an empty box seems to hold a world of mystery for children – they will usually drop whatever sophisticated device they’re clutching, and run over to a newly emptied box to check it out, try to climb inside it, and generally just monkey around. An easy way to build on this fascination would be to use a simple cardboard box and turn it into a sort of “tunnel,” or an obstacle course where they use their bodies to propel the cardboard boxes forward as they make their way around the living room. Of course, this requires a measure of supervision, but pretty much all these activities do anyhow!
When all else fails, arranging an in-house “movie day” for your kids and their friends works just as well: some healthy snacks, and a few DVD copies of classic family movies such as the Wizard of Oz or more contemporary works like Harry Potter is just as fun. And, if even that doesn’t grab their attention, well, boredom is never a bad thing. It forces them to use their imagination more, make up their own games and create their own worlds without the heavy-handed intervention of the adult world.