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Rainy days: boredom busters for kids
by Briony Jenkins

Feeling a little stir crazy? If the kids are running you ragged and you’re in desperate need of inspiration boredom busters is the solution. Designed to entertain even the busiest little ones, we hope that there will be something here for everyone. The ideas are simple, cost practically nothing and don’t require endless preparation - a bonus when energy is something in short supply for mum.

Boredom Busters for Crafty Kids

Flying Fish
Draw a fish template on A4 paper, then use this to help your child cut out more fish shapes on coloured sheets of paper. Line the cut out fish up in front of you, then demonstrate how to flap a magazine so it creates enough wind to blow the fish along. If you have several children, get them to personalise their fish, make a finish line and have races. Creative mums can design other shapes like birds or cars that can fly!

Cut, Stick and Tell
Find a magazine (child friendly!) and help your child cut out pictures that take their fancy - it could be a baby, a dog, a flower, a cartoon character etc. Choose around a dozen pictures, get a scrapbook and glue them in any order. Now together, take turns to make up a story based around the pictures. You can go through the pictures again and again, each time making up new stories.

Make-Believe Boredom Busters

Dressing Up
My kids love dressing up but not in ready made costumes - they have most fun trying on my clothes and using 'props'. Go on a dressing up treasure hunt around the house put your booty in a big box, then let your child loose. Favourites include shoes, hats, bags, dressing gowns, scarves, jewellery, anything sparkly, tops and wraps. A mirror at child height is a must have and taking photos to laugh at later or show dad is an extra treat.

Teddy Bear Hospitals
All you need are teddies or dolls, a toilet roll and you’re away. 'Bandage' legs, arms, heads etc. (with the toilet paper) and then pretend to diagnose broken limbs, take temperatures, give medicine, cuddle them better and generally act out little hospital dramas.

Have Hair, Have Fun
A favourite of mine because you get to sit down! Give your child brushes, hair slides, grips, clips, hair ties etc and let her design crazy hairstyles on you. Most children have a few attempts before they get bored, so it’s a great opportunity for mum to recharge her batteries before getting up to play something else. Tip: don’t play this just before you’re going out unless you want to look like you’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards!

Trains
I use this one when I’m doing the housework and need to distract the kids. I line up the dining room chairs and encourage them to play trains with each other and their teddies or dolls. It’s very simple but children often play best when they have to use their imagination and this one never fails in our house.

Magic Carpets
Sit on a rug together and make believe it’s a magic carpet that can fly anywhere in the world. You can 'visit' exotic locations and see how children live in other countries, go exploring with Dora, pop in to Teletubby Land, fight dragons, etc. It’s a terrific way to tap into your child’s creative side and teach them something too.

Teddy Bears Picnic - With a Twist
Who says picnics have to be outdoors? Any floor will do. The twist is the bears get to dress up in your child’s old clothes. Dig out things they’ve grown out of and help them dress their 'babies'. Line up the bears around a rug with plates in front of them. Make a simple picnic lunch for you and your child, raisins for the bears so they can 'eat' too plus empty kiddie cups so they can be fed 'drinks'.

Build a Den
You don’t need expensive playhouses or tents. A clothes airer, a table, a bed with a high headboard - anything you can drape a sheet over to create a hidey hole will thrill little ones. A blanket or duvet and pillows on the floor make it cosy. Check it’s stable and safe, then give them toys, snacks and a non-spill drink. Hours of fun!

www Boredom Busters

Click ‘n’ Go
Computers are part of everyday life these days, so it’s a good idea to introduce your child to the basics under controlled and timed short play sessions. Logging on to websites such as cbeebies (www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/ ) is a fun way to teach simple skills such as clicking a mouse or pressing the space button. You can hear stories and nursery rhymes, play simple interactive games (great for co-ordination and learning) or just enjoy making a cow moo!

Baking Boredom Busters

Fruit Faces
Get some little tubes of icing that kids can squeeze and ice with. Choose some fruit - for example half a peach or a peeled banana - and get them to 'draw' a face or a squiggly pattern, then eat! A good way to make fruit fun and encourage them to try different types.

Ham and Cheese Twisties
So easy even young toddlers can get involved and they love eating the end result. Take a sheet of ready made puff pastry. Kids can rip up paper thin sheets of ham into tiny bits and scatter over the pastry. (Make sure they have clean hands first!) Help them grate cheese over then fold in half so the mixture is inside. Cut into strips, then together twist and place on a baking sheet. Bake in a hot, pre-heated oven for about 10 minutes or until crisp and golden.

Eat With Chopsticks
If baking isn't your thing, you can still have fun. Instead of eating stir fried rice or noodles the usual way, teach your kids to use chopsticks. They will love the mess it involves and it can make an ordinary meal into a really fun event.

Boredom Busters to burn off energy

Keep Fit Together
I discovered this when I hurt my back and needed to do lots of stretching exercises. I lay down on a folded duvet and my kids joined me. As I did my exercises, they joined in and had a great time contorting themselves into all sorts of silly positions. It’s the ideal way to do a mini exercise class and keep little ones entertained too.

Mum’s Dance Class
Forget nursery rhymes and children’s songs. Dig out some classics of your own and get down and boogie. Kids benefit from listening to a wide variety of music styles and will love copying mum’s dance moves - no matter how dodgy. So get out your air guitar, re-live Saturday Night Fever, rock ‘n’ roll or waltz round the living room.

Make a Movie
If you have a camcorder, make a home movie. Dress up if you want, sing favourite songs, dance, act out a story - let your child decide. You can also do this to record a special message for dad or other relatives. Watching afterwards is half the fun and it’s a wonderful keepsake or terrific gift.

Boredom Busters to do outdoors

If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em
On a rainy day go out for a walk and splash about in puddles. See rainy days as an opportunity rather than an obstruction. Children are fascinated by the rain and relish any chance to wear wellies. Even an hour outdoors can blow away cobwebs so take the plunge. I remember as a child loving nothing more than making mud pies - so wrap up warm, dig out the bucket and spade and make a mess!

Encouraging kids to entertain themselves

Children these days can often find their days so over-planned, they have no free time to play alone. Mums feel guilty if every waking moment isn't devoted to entertaining the little darlings but kids need to learn to amuse themselves - being bored occasionally will force them to think for themselves and find a solution the problem. Imaginative play is vital to a child’s development as they learn to use their creativity and own resources. You can help your child initiate independent play by offering a few suggestions or starting them off. Boredom Busters such as‘Making a Den or Trains are ideal for this. As kids get older, setting aside time to read is a fantastic way for children to occupy themselves. Apart from allowing mum some precious time, a child who can amuse himself becomes an adult who is independent and self reliant.

Local trips kids will love

The Library
Local libraries are wonderful places. Most have child friendly areas, story time, baby bounce and tot rock sessions that are an excellent introduction to reading at an early age. And it’s usually free!

Find a Pet Shop
You can while away half an hour at no expense wandering around a local pet shop. It’s a good way to teach little ones about different birds, fish and other pets and costs absolutely nothing.

Take the Train
If your child travels everywhere by car, a ride on a bus or train is actually a treat because it’s a novelty. It won’t cost much and you don’t need to go far - they’ll love it!

 
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