200 Proven Summer Boredom Busters
Ahh, summer… We love it, don’t we? The kids are always so excited for school to be out for the summer, but the novelty never lasts very long. They soon find themselves bored out of their ever living minds, and miss their beloved teachers and friends, and their even more beloved routine. They also quickly realize that mommy and daddy don’t get to take summers off just because they do.
“Mom! I’m bored…and there’s NOTHING to do!”
Oh, that phrase makes me crazy! “Seriously, kids? Look around you! There are lots of things you can do!”
Well, they do look around…and they simply can’t see it. I have spent well over a decade now teaching my kids to play. It isn’t something that comes naturally to to any of them (including my bio child!) It’s especially difficult for my children who experienced developmental trauma, though. Unless something is right there in front of them and spelled out in specific details, they literally can’t see it. They can’t envision or imagine the outcome. Therefore, they often miss or forget about many of the fun options they do have. As such, if left to their own devices, they either default to the passive entertainment of screens (aka video games, tv, movies, etc) or they quickly find themselves in trouble.
Thankfully, we have learned to make summers work for us over the years. My kids have finally figured out it really is more fun to do something positive rather than stir up chaos and get themselves in trouble or sit around being bored all day. When they are engaged in constructive activities, fight less, complain less, and feel better about life in general. They’ve also noticed both their brains and bodies actually feel better!
Our Favorite Summer Survival Tool
A favorite summer sanity saver at our house is our “Boredom Busters” Book. Long story short, this book is a collection of pictures and simple text prompts designed to remind kids there really are all kinds of inexpensive, yet still fun and entertaining things they can do to keep themselves productively occupied. We’ve found that once the novelty of summer has worn off and the kids start pestering each other or wandering around like zombies, they are ready for some new ideas.
This simple book has been a fixture at our house for a few years now. My sweeties made our first couple of versions of our “I’m Bored” book themselves. They went around the house and took pictures of anything and everything they could find to keep themselves occupied that didn’t involve a screen or a lot of money. We were all very surprised at how many options and ideas they really found. They then printed out all of those pictures and put them in a binder. Each time they claimed there was “nothing to do”, I simply handed them the book. They flipped through it and quickly found a new idea.
Their versions of the book were fun and and worked quite well for a few years. However, they printed huge pictures that took a lot of paper and ink, there was no order or organization to them, and they soon forgot what some of the pictures were even about. Darn it…they also did what kids do, too. They grew up! It was a little shocking to open their old books from years past and realize they’d outgrown most of the activities they had in there.
It was time for an upgrade this year. Since my kid who has normally compiled the book in the past is now keeping herself plenty busy in the real labor force now, the task of putting it together fell back to me. The kids still had a lot of fun helping me come up with the ideas and put it together, though. I have to admit, it turned out pretty darn cool, too! In fact, it’s so fun that I decided to make it available for purchase.
Check out the “Already done for you” version…
Why make your own when there’s one already done for you?
Though creating your own book isn’t that hard, it still takes time, energy, and research. There’s also a pretty good chance you’ll come up with many of the same ideas I did, too. My version features 186+ ideas to keep kids busy all summer long. Most of the ideas aren’t “new”. They are simply reminders of all the options kids already have to keep themselves busy, but may have forgotten about. All suggested activities are purposely simple enough that kids can figure out how to do them on their own. None of them are expensive and nor do they involve screens. That is, of course, unless screens are used for research or part of a family activity. Just in case I missed a few things or didn’t include your favorites, there is plenty of room to add your own ideas to mine.
Fun for kids of all ages
At first glance, many of the suggestions offered may appear best suited for younger kids. They really are, however, geared toward bigger kids (‘tweens and teens). It is important to remember that many hurt kids missed significant developmental steps, especially early in their lives. They never had the opportunity to BE kids. They never learned how to be kids. Sadly, this isn’t a problem unique to trauma-exposed children. It is a problem for many kids across the board today as they grow up in an electronic world. Ironic as it may sound, they NEED to go back and learn to be kids before they can grow up.
Shhh! Don’t tell anyone this, but most of the activities in my book are also awesome for adults, too. Let’s face it…being an adult isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be. With freedom comes responsibility. As the demands of grown-up responsibilities weigh us down, it’s easy to forget how to be a kid. It is also easy to forget how much fun playtime really is. Did you also know kids learn to play constructively and cooperatively when they see adults doing it?
Great for kids who struggle with emotional and behavior issues
We tried using some of those cute pre-made Pinterest lists in the past, but they didn’t really work for us. Some of my kids don’t have a lot of imagination. They need visual cues and reminders right there in front of them. We also found that many pre-made lists were full of activities that might be fun for other kids, but were definitely not appropriate for my sometimes still struggling kids. For example, anything involving a baseball bat, a mess, or that requires significant supervision or direction from mom don’t work for us.
A new feature I added this year is a personalized letter I wrote to my kids. This is now the front page of the book! I clearly explain the purpose of this book, what my job as the mom is, and what their job as the kids is. The I also clearly indicate when screen time is available, when mom is available, and when they are expected to participate in family time.
Easy for kids to use
My book is divided into different sections based on the setting or type of activity. It features 24 pages of ideas for indoor activities, outdoor activities, and ideas for fun and engaging things to do as a family. I also included a section specifically geared to older kids (aka mid teens.) Of course, there is also plenty of room for including your own ideas as well.
The layout involves simple, clean columns and rows. Each activity has a photo and a small amount of corresponding text either explaining or directing the activity. If you have a child who struggles when there are too many choices, it is very easy to limit the options for them. Simply have them choose an activity from one specific page. If that is still too much, have them choose from a specific row or column and cover all the others up with your hand or a blank piece of paper.
Ready to go!
I am offering this book as a ready-to-print, instantly downloadable PDF file for just $10.00! It’s a small price to pay for a whole lot of sanity! All pages are standard letter size (8.5x11”) and are easily printable on a home printer. Simply slip the printed paged into in some sheet protectors and then bind them together. A ½” binder makes that job very easy. I used one with a customizable front cover to make it easy for the kids to identify. Yes, the cover page is included in the download!
May your summer be happy, peaceful, fun, and productive…and may all your kids be bored enough to realize there really are a host of truly fun, inexpensive, and screen free things to do!