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5 ways to keep your kids occupied at home (that aren't screens)

independent play play summer summer break Jul 06, 2022

If the past few years have taught moms anything, it’s that there really needs to be a wider variety of ways to keep your kids occupied at home that aren’t screens. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with letting your little one watch some TV or even play a game on a tablet now and then, but kids shouldn’t be reliant on screens to stay occupied if it can be avoided.

Thankfully, another side effect of the pandemic has been an explosion in creative ways to keep kids occupied. In the spirit of summer break, here are 5 ways that you can keep your kids occupied at home (and in the house on those extra hot or rainy days) that don’t involve bringing out a screen—but just know that if screens are needed so you can do what you need to do, that’s okay, too!

Make an anti-boredom activity raffle bowl

This works best with older kids, but it can be tailored toward younger kids as well. For this trick, get a big bowl and write down as many activity ideas as you can on individual scraps of paper. You should have your children suggest ideas as well, as this will help them feel more involved. You could include some light chores phrased in a fun way (like see who can make their bed the fastest), but make sure most of the activities in the bowl are actually fun. When you need them to be occupied—or when you get the dreaded “I’m bored!”—tell them to pick something out of the raffle bowl and do that. When they’re done with that activity, all they have to do is go grab another ticket!

Stock up on crafty toys

If you don’t already have crafty toys, now is the time to get them. Head to the dollar store for crafty toys like bricks, building blocks, paints/markers/art sets, popsicle sticks, stickers, construction paper—anything that will have kids doing something for an extended period of time. This type of creative play will be engaging and will keep kids occupied for longer periods of time. Even better if your kid has a goal they want to reach by the end of the summer—like learning how to make origami butterflies so they can put a butterfly exhibit together for family, for example.

Fill bowls and containers with water

This activity is best with kids who are still playing with toys like trucks, dolls, and figurines—and it’s also shockingly simple and effective. All you need to do is get a bowl or container (ideally transparent, but not necessary) and fill it with water; lay down a towel and let your kid have fun! They might give their Barbie dolls a bath or pretend they’re at the beach; they might pretend they’re the owner of a car wash and give all their cars a good scrub. You would be surprised at how long kids will stay occupied with a bowl of water and some toys. A little water never hurt anything!

Give them specific tasks with longer end-goals

If your kids don’t feel like playing on their own, try giving them a specific task with multiple parts to it that will keep them occupied for a while, like learning the steps to a music video they love, finding costumes to wear and filming the performance (if they’re old enough, they could even add some cool editing to the video using free programs on the computer!). Another idea would be to create a summer checklist with a bunch of things they should learn or do and have them check them off one by one as they accomplish the goals. 

Help them make a giant fort or tent for activities 

Kids tend to stay occupied when they feel like they have their own little space, and you might be surprised at how much they’ll keep themselves busy when they have a fort or tent to retreat into. Help them make a big fort or tent where they can get cozy, then encourage them to get books and toys and have fun inside!

(Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash)

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