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3 Ways to Prevent Summer Boredom

Summer is here. School is out. Schedules are often more laid back. And some days it can feel like there are a lot of hours in the day and you’re running out ideas to keep your children occupied.

If this is something you struggle with at your house, here are some ideas that we’ve implemented at our house:

1. Create & Follow a Routine

One of the things I love about a creating and following a routine is not only that it gives us order and structure in our day, but also that it keeps me from having to constantly be figuring out what everyone is going to do next. When there are set parameters for our day, we can just follow these and it nips a lot of possible boredom right in the bud.

In addition, a routine helps us to limit screen time. Our kids know movie time is from 5 p.m. until dinner time and only if you’ve done your chores, assignments, and had a good attitude during the day. Everyone knows these are the rules so people aren’t asking to turn on a movie earlier in the day since they know it’s not even an option.

Mom I’m Bored Jar (plus free printable!) from Somewhat Simple

2. Have Pre-Planned Options Available

We have a few hours of free time in the afternoons, but I don’t expect my children to automatically have ideas for filling this time. I want them to be creative, play make believe, do art projects, read, and build things. But if they are having trouble coming up with ideas on given afternoon, I always have a few suggestions and options available — books and audiobooks from the library, art projects, a game, an idea for something to play in the back yard, etc.

I don’t want my children to feel like they need to constantly be entertained, but I also have no problem with giving them a gentle nudge in a direction if they are lacking inspiration. I might say something like, “Why don’t you build a LEGO castle and listen to that new audiobook I got from the library?” Or, “Oh! I’ve got a great idea! Why don’t you pretend you have a restaurant and see what things from nature you can use for food in your restaurant kitchen in the back yard?”

Usually just a few ideas will get the wheels in their brain turning and pretty soon they are engaged in some project in their room or the back yard.

If you need some ideas and inspiration, check out my Fun & Frugal Summer Activities Pinterest Board. You can also look through my 4 Weeks of Frugal Family Fun series.

Making Homemade Flubber

3. Replace Discontentment With Gratitude

I want to raise children that understand how blessed they are. When they complain about being bored, I try to listen to their heart. Are they just communicating that I need to do a better job of investing in them or are the communicating to me that they are struggling with discontentment?

I don’t always hit the nail on the head, but I do try to ask some questions to probe a little deeper and see where their “I’m bored” statement is coming from. If your child is moping around regularly about how life is boring, it might be time to have a heart-to-heart discussion on contentment and to put forth some effort to teach and nurture them to develop more of a grateful spirit.

Maybe to have them think of three things they are thankful for every time they say they are bored… or to find a way a to bless someone else? You’re their parent so you know what’s best for your child and where their heart is, but it’s something to consider.

What are your best tips for busting summer boredom?

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  • Shelly says:

    I agree having some preplanned options is a way to go. I always try to have something for the kids to do. Today they really wanted to go and have fun with their squirt guns. So that was our fun for the day.
    I also usually think early in the day of some ideas for that day just in case. I am really blessed that my kids love to explore and work on building and experimenting. So as long as I give them a little room to make a mess, they can usually keep themselves occupied with something.

  • This series is fantastic. I particularly needed this: “When [my children] complain about being bored, I try to listen to their heart. Are they just communicating that I need to do a better job of investing in them or are the communicating to me that they are struggling with discontentment?”

  • Heather says:

    I really like the idea of keeping a summer schedule and limiting screen time to a certain part of the day. Sometimes I suspect that I’ve created an environment where my children expect me to entertain them more than I think is possible at times, and if I’m not available to them I do hear “I’m bored” a lot. Thanks for all the great suggestions you provide!

  • Jaime says:

    Thank you for that last paragraph about contentment. I feel like we are struggling in that area with our 7 yo. I would welcome more suggestions on that topic from you, Crystal (vlog topic?!?), or from the readers.

  • Bobbie-Jo says:

    If you homeschool you can get more creative with your annual schedule (if your state laws allow that is). I homeschool year round. I do four weeks of school, and then one week off. I take an extra long Christmas break and a month off in June (this is when Spring fever really hits in my house). I also schedule four day weeks for the rest of the summer. As long as I meet the 180 days requirement in my state, they don’t care when I do it. Our family loves the year round – often our days off to do fun things are when everyone else is in school (so no crowds), we have frequent breaks (gives me time to plan and catch up), and fights off boredom in those long summer months. (Also your children aren’t having to relearn things in the Fall – all the information is staying fresh).

  • Hannah J says:

    I love the idea for an “I’m bored” jar. I might have to put that into practice =)

  • My children are happy when they know at least once or twice a week they can do something they really like. And we stick to same time same place. For example, Saturday mornings it’s cartoons and cereal for breakfast (even though it’s old cartoons or from the library). Friday evenings is always pizza and family movie night. Those are easy to do and when things fall apart during the week, they know they can still have it.

  • Great ideas. I thrive on schedules and so we definitely stick to them during the summer. I’ve mentioned this before, but we also do a less structured home-school through the summer, too, which helps cut down on the boredom.

  • Victoria says:

    I find over and over again if I will just take 10 to 15 minutes to get my children started with something then they will continue with it for sometimes hours. For instance I will get my daughter going on an art project, set out all the supplies, show her a picture of the finish product go over the steps and then help her get started and then she takes over and gets into it and I can go back to my chores.

  • My grandma used to always say, “Boredom is the sign of a dull mind.” I still remember that after all these years! If I complained about being bored, I got a chore and I didn’t want an extra one of those!

    One plus to having EXTREMELY active, energetic kids who daily wear their mom to a frazzle with their endless supply of creativity and zest for life is that they never get bored. Sometimes I wish they would though so I could have some rest!

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