Sunday, July 11, 2010


In my experience, busy kids are happy kids. Don't misunderstand my definition of busy though, it doesn't mean that they need planned, scheduled activities, play dates and sports. There's a difference between scheduled and busy. They just need to be kept busy.

Since I like happy kids far more than whining, grumpy ones, I try to keep mine busy. Obviously, what you need to do to ensure this changes as they get older.

Here are some things that help keep them occupied.

  • Craft and activity stations. Lots of coloring books, crayons and blank paper.
  • Activity tv. This is an on-demand service through our cable provider, see if yours has the same. There are tons of little 3-8 minute segments available for them to watch and try to re-create. My kids love the cartooning segments the most. They also love the little dance lessons. So much better than mindless watching.
  • Floor puzzles. Something about big pieces make them way more fun than regular puzzles.
  • Cardboard boxes. When you get ones that are big enough to play with, set them aside. Pull them out when the kids are bored, give them some crayons and watch them build and play. Last summer, my kids constructed an entire box city in the basement.
  • Play dough and slime. I've posted the recipes for these before. Great way to keep them busy for a little while, plus they are using their creative minds.
  • Parades. Break out the pots and pans and have a parade. Noisy, but way fun for them.
  • Washing the dishes. Get a plastic tub, fill it up with soapy water and give them stuff to wash. Sounds silly, I know, but my kids get a kick out of this.
  • Paint the house. Grab some cheap large paint brushes and give the kids a bucket of water. This can keep them busy for a good long time too.
  • Teach them to make fingerprint and hand print animals.
  • Water guns, but the ones that are easy for young kids to operate. They make cheap water launchers now (look like long tubes), and even the littlest ones will learn how to use them.
  • Make flowers and butterflies. All you need are coffee filters, markers, pipe cleaners and a squirt bottle. Have the kids flatten the filters and color them, then lay flat on a cookie sheet and spray with water until the colors run together. After they dry, you can scrunch them into flowers or butterflies with the pipe cleaners.
  • Countdown chains. Whatever you are looking forward to, make paper chains for.
  • I set aside time each day during the summer to work on a specific goal for school. Aidan is doing multiplication tables, Ashley is writing stories, Ally is learning to read.
  • Go to the library. If you have little kids, ones that are particularly loud, or ones with very short attention spans, ask them what kind of books they would like to check out before you set foot in the library. Trust me.
  • If your city has pools or parks with spray grounds (best invention ever), go. Tired kids are happy kids.
  • If it gets too hot in the afternoon for outdoor activities where you are, take advantage of the fact that kids get up early and get them out of the house in the early morning. Run them around parks. Go on leaf and rock hunts. Get them nice and worn out before lunch.
  • Quiet time. I love quiet time. After lunch every day, we have an hour of alone time. Each kid has to hang out in their room, reading or playing very quietly. Even the big ones will occasionally take a nap. Quiet time rocks. And I really believe it is important for kids to learn to be okay with time alone.

I know I have more, but these are all I can think of right now. My little people are getting restless....I need to go keep them busy.

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