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The Best Way To Navigate Boredom With Kids

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Boredom is an emotion we all experience. It’s not something to be punished or fixed. Instead, try this one simple trick Erin has discovered for helping kids alleviate boredom.

Written by Erin Vincent of Nourishing My Scholars.

Do you ever feel guilty when your kids say they are bored? Do you try to fill their days with endless activities to avoid the complaints?  Maybe boredom isn’t something to be avoided. Perhaps it can be a gateway to connection, discoveries, and natural curiosity.

The Best Way To Navigate Boredom With Kids

Boredom Can Be a Path to Connection

There I was standing at the kitchen sink with my hair in my face and my elbows deep in hot sudsy water when I heard the phrase, “Mama, I’m bored!”

What’s a mom to do? Give them more chores? Tell them to go outside?

Maybe those ideas have their place in different circumstances. Yet, my approach wasn’t to find my kids something to do or punish them for being bored.

I may be the last person on Earth to advise how to cure boredom and stop whining, but I think the best way to navigate boredom with your child is to put yourself in his shoes. What would I want someone to do for me if I were bored?

Navigating Boredom with Your Child

I want to feel heard. I want to figure out how to cease the dull monotony that comes from boredom.

Boredom means we may need to engage and explore in a way to break free of the humdrum that we find ourselves in. That can seem difficult amid homeschool, dishes, and laundry. It’s no different for our children.

I want to build connections with my kiddos.

So, I told my kids that I was busy now with the dishes, but they were welcome to come talk to me in the kitchen. Or they could read aloud to me while I worked because I love listening to them read. They decided on just talking to me.

Being bored, they told me, was not fun.

I empathized. 

Some phrases that help while still allowing kids the space to come up with their own solutions for what to do about their boredom include:

  • “I don’t like it when I’m bored, either.”
  • “Boredom can make me feel grumpy too.”
  • “Sometimes, I’ll go sit in my favorite spot until an idea comes to me.”
  • “Many times, nature helps me think of something new.”

I want my kids to learn to solve their problems creatively.

With this approach, eventually, the kids get an idea of something to do, and off they scamper. Crisis averted or connection made?

Navigating Boredom with Your Child

Use Boredom as a Gateway to Creativity

Did you know that boredom and downtime are good for creativity? Inspire children’s natural curiosity by creating space for their passions. Leaving space in our homeschool helps to make room for our children to discover new interests. They have the freedom to create, discover, explore, experiment, and learn!

Times of boredom is where Strewing can come in handy.

The Best Way To Navigate Boredom With Kids

Strewing is a wonderful way of helping facilitate your child’s inquisitiveness or helping them discover new interests. Strewing is leaving anything of fascination for your child to find and explore on their own.

Take note of their particular interests:

  1. Subscription kits are one of our favorite things to tuck away for a monotonous day. Tinker boxes are one of the first go-to’s. Our favorites usually include STEM or Science Kits such as Tinker Crate, Kiwi Crate, Koala Crate, Little Passports Science Expedition Kits, or Groovy Lab in a Box.
  2. Games are an obsession of ours! Try strewing games around your home.
  3. Art is an excellent way for anyone to express themselves. I always keep supplies on our art table readily available.
  4. Messy play with water, bubbles, sand, mud helps little alleviate boredom.
  5. Nature and the great outdoors are wonderful boredom-busters for all ages. I like leaving some simple tools (hammer, nails, boards) out in an accessible area. The children also have survival and hiking gear. Many times, I have gone outside to discover a new fort or the children building something with their tools. We even incorporate nature games!

If you need more inspiration, here are 100 More Strewing Ideas for your homeschool.

Navigating Boredom with Your Child

Being Bored is a Part of Life

Boredom is something that we all experience – even adults. It’s a part of life.

But it doesn’t have to be something our children are afraid to express. It can be a path to connection as we help our kids learn to navigate boredom while also seeking ways to give them space and freedom to explore the world around them.

How do you deal with boredom in your home?

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Erin Vincent is a homeschooling mom to two intense kids. They are child led with a heavy emphasis on read alouds, games, art, nature hikes, and hands on science! They traded the hustle and bustle of city life for the quiet farm life where opportunities for exploration in nature abound. When they're not homeschooling you'll find Erin curled up with a cup of coffee and a good book!. You can find Erin at Nourishing My Scholar.

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  1. Erin, I really like this approach. It’s true – people often respond to kids’ boredom either in punishing ways or by quickly try to get them busy to avoid them feeling it/parent hearing about it. I think boredom is a sort of feeling like any other but we might react a lot differently than we would if our child was, for example, sad. I love the suggestions of phrases – empathizing and also giving some ideas of what works for you. Thanks for the great ideas:).

    1. Awe, thank you. I agree. Our approach and response can either help us connect or disconnect from our children. Empathy can carry us far not just as parents, but in life.

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