It is so easy to get stuck in a rut with the kids. Routines are very comforting for young children. But with my kids, spicing things up keeps them stimulated and engaged. Bored = bad in my house.
Here are some of my favorite tactics:
Is that a HAT?
This is a very goofy looking game I played with my children. It was particularly great for situations where I didn’t have a lot of toys or distractions available, such as waiting in a doctor’s office or going on a long car ride (not to perform while driving). You’ll love the simplicity – I literally would just grab anything available, put it on my head, and ask,
“Is that a hat?”
Even when the kiddos were super young, they would look quizzically at me, not entirely sure about it but they certainly knew that the object did not belong on my head. Craziest thing I ever used? My daughter, who made a terribly squirmy hat.
I guess this could also explain why my children like to balance a variety of objects on their own heads. Very entertaining.
Do Something Usual in an Unusual Place
I can’t take all the credit for this one; it was inspired by my interpretation of something I read when my daughter was young (back when I had time to read).
Best example of this eating lunch. The lunchtime routine can get a bit old. Typical lunch foods, typical food games, typical mess. Try switching it up.
Have a picnic. In nice weather, schlep the whole meal out to the backyard on a blanket in the grass or even better, take it to the park. Don’t have enough time? Just sit out on the back steps. And when the weather doesn’t cooperate, have an inside picnic on the floor in a room other than the kitchen.
For this same reason, I occasionally allow my daughter to sleep in a pile of blankets on the floor instead of in her bed. It just gives her an extra incentive to go to bed when it’s a little different from the normal routine.
Try a Change of Scenery
This is a slightly different variation of the above. I have set up many different play stations in my house (much to my husband’s dismay) for this purpose.
Sometimes I’ve noticed that the kids get bored if you keep pushing them to play in one particular location with one particular set of toys. When I notice this happening, I encourage them to go to play at a different play station. I might run upstairs with them and get them started playing together in one of their rooms. Or, I have a small basket of their books in our living room. I will suggest that they check out a book in there for some wind down time.
Right now, we are going through a tough time with our 20-month old son who hates to be left on his own to play, so this concept helps reignite his interest by directing him to a new set of toys in a different location.
Do you use any of these tactics? How do you keep your kids engaged in activity long enough to do some work or chores?