“I’m bored!” It’s a phrase that parents dread, and yet it’s a phrase that you’ll almost inevitably hear at some point when raising kids. Of course occasional boredom can be good for children, promoting creativity and resilience. But sometimes you just need to come up with an activity to keep them happy and occupied, and often—whether it’s because of bad weather, a lack of available outdoor play spaces, or some other reason—that activity needs to be indoors.
Seem daunting? Sure, “indoors” is a place where you keep a lot of your most fragile possessions, and where we generally want kids to use their quietest voices. So it might seem like a challenge to keep really active kids happily engaged with a task and playing safely inside, while also keeping your sanity (and breakable items) intact. But it’s way easier than it sounds! Start by trying one of the ideas below.
Shared story time
Got a kid who loves to read or tell stories? Turn storytime into a hilarious co-op by having each person contribute a sentence, then the next person continues the story with another sentence, and so on. It’s always entertaining to see where the story goes! This is also a great game to keep kids occupied when you’re waiting in long boring lines or traveling from place to place. If your child doesn’t want to sit still when playing at home, encourage them to act out the story as it unfolds.
Using a large mirror, have your kiddos draw self portraits. They can try painting or drawing what they see in the reflection, and sometimes they come up with frame-worthy stuff! Or they can use dry erase markers to doodle on the mirror itself, adding silly hair, glasses, and any other details they wish to their own reflections. The dry erase markers will wipe off the mirror when they’re finished.
Try making your own scavenger hunt using household items. Place handwritten clues in key spots around the house that hint at where the next clue can be found, and let the search begin. The winner can decide what you have for dinner or what game you play next.
Another favorite: Create a homemade obstacle course. Kids can race each other, or challenge themselves to beat their own best time! Some ideas for obstacles include:
- Use a laundry bin and rolled up socks for a basket toss station.
- Place plastic cups upside down in a zigzag pattern for a crawl zone.
- Pile up pillows and couch cushions to climb over.
- Secure easy-to-remove painter’s tape to the floor to use as a balance beam, a hopscotch board, or to make X’s to mark the spot where kids need to stop and do five jumping jacks.
- Tape string or ribbon back and forth at all different angles across a hallway to act as “laser beams” for kids to crawl over and under.
Put on a play
This one is especially fun if your child has a flair for the dramatic. Raid the closets and dress-up bins for makeshift costumes, write the storyline (or act out the plot of a favorite book or show), and use stuffed animals and toys as props or puppets.
Create a “tent” for an indoor campsite by lining up chairs facing away from each other and tossing a blanket over them (secure with books on either end). Lean a yardstick or broom in the center to “pitch” the tent. Flashlights, blankets, pillows, campy snacks, and a singalong round out the experience. If you happen to have yello, orange, or red tissue paper, you can fluff it up and pile or tape it on top of a flashlight for a campfire effect, too!
Finally, a ParentsTogether favorite: Have a dance-off … because who wouldn’t want to see the adults in their lives boogie down? Just turn up some of your favorite upbeat tunes and let loose! You can even make it a game by trying to copy each other’s moves, imitating different animals with your dancing, making up a routine to do together, or challenging yourselves to come up with the most creative dance move possible.
With a little creativity, *any* day can be the best day ever—even days when you’re stuck inside!