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I feel like there was a lot of talk about the “perfect” moms on Pinterest last year and how unrealistic it all is. And mostly, for me (as a Pinterest mom) it is unrealistic to a degree. As a blogger who tries to create inspiring content for my readers I hope you don’t think that I am always doing these fun science or paper experiments with my kids every single day, because I most definitely am not, and never have.
We do, and have done, lots of fun things together but there is definitely something to teaching your kids at an early age how to entertain themselves. Most of the time that’s when I’ve seen my kids creativity bloom and their problem solving skills kick into gear, and I’ll bet they’ve learned more about science and physics that way too.
As parents we can’t be there for every kid as entertainment all of the time. It’s just not possible, so encouraging them to come up with something to do (beyond coloring, playing video games or watching a movie) ends up having many benefits.
One of the ways you can encourage your kids to entertain themselves is by giving them (age appropriate) materials from around the house and recycle bin to explore. Things like:
- packing materials
- batteries or magnets (for older kids only obviously)
- cups/plates/plastic silverware
- screws or other leftover hardware
- old electronics
- pipe cleaners
- fabric strips
- mason jars
- cleaned out leftover containers
- egg cartons
Anything you’d normally get rid of or throw in the recycle bin (that’s safe for their age/maturity level) is fair game. Sometimes all they need is for you to put a selection in front of them. Try not to give them any direction just encourage them to “have at it” and see what they come up with. This goes for toys they already have too.
Duct tape and cardboard are probably my favorite materials to let kids explore so stock up on duct tape if you see it on sale or clearance.
They can also:
- play outside
- make up a game
- create a play
- build a fort
- make up a magic trick
- unassembled an old electronic
- make a stop motion video
- make mud pies
- play with the room full of toys they already have
I’ve always like to keep an eye on the boys while they do this and can help here or there, but setting up that expectation that I won’t be sitting there doing every step with them is one I wanted to set up early. Solving every problem for them isn’t teaching them anything.
When kids can entertain themselves, you have more time to get things done so that when you are ready to give your kids attention you can give them your FULL attention. For working parents that may be once a week or less but I guarantee they’ll eat up that full attention and cherish it more than 1/2 or less than 1/2 your attention multiple times throughout the week.
The ideas I post or share here are simply inspiration for the times that you do have to spend with your kids. Please don’t think that everyone does these all day every day. There may be those people (and that’s awesome), but that’s not us and that’s ok.
What do your kids do to entertain themselves?