10 Things to Do When Your Kids Are Bored During Summer Vacation

by Katie Trudeau

“Mom, I’m bored.” 

Those three words can strike terror in any parent. We are so used to busy schedules and summer camps and tennis lessons that we almost don’t even know how to handle boredom. While structured activities are no doubt good for kids, it can backfire when kids lose the ability to entertain themselves. 

Here’s the good news: you don’t need to rely on technology or TV to entertain your kids this summer.

The next time boredom strikes, consider these ten ideas.

Head to the Bookstore

When I was in middle school, I spent countless summer days devouring books while laying outside in the backyard, and when I was in high school, I just shifted my reading location to the beach. Books are a great way to spend summer days. 

Reading can:

  • Help keep reading comprehension skills sharp over the summer
  • Help develop language and vocabulary skills
  • Be fun! (especially when your kids pick topics or genres that interest them) 
  • Entertain kids for hours

If your children can read independently, head to the bookstore and let your child pick a new series. A series is a great idea because it can hook your child so they keep going back for more.

Even if your children cannot read independently, you can still find books that can entertain kids for a prolonged time. “Eye spy” type books are great for this.

Of course, you can get books on tablets and smart devices, but there’s something so wonderful about opening a new book for the first time. Choosing physical books over e-books can eliminate the temptation to close the book reader app and open up a game.

Have a Spa Day

Who could refuse a spa day? Spa days at home are super customizable and great for kids of all ages. 

For younger children, these are good spa day options:

  • Baths with colorful bath bombs (some even have toys in the center)
  • Soaking feet in a foot bath and then massage lotion on your child’s feet; I have done this with a two-year-old, and it’s amazing how long they will sit still for something so relaxing.
  • Let your child pick a princess hairstyle and try to emulate it; I have done crazy mohwaks for my sons as well!
  • Use non-toxic nail polish to paint nails 
  • Have your child lay on a blanket on the floor and massage lotion onto their legs or arms or back

For older kids:

  • Facial masks; use Bentonite clay and apple cider vinegar to create a non-toxic exfoliating mask
  • Soak feet and give each other pedicure 
  • Paint fingernails 
  • Have fun with temporary hair color, creating colorful streaks or highlights 

Tire Them Out

I find that the majority of the time that my kids utter those “I’m bored” words, they have a lot  of pent-up energy and don’t know what to do with it. Use this as a teaching tool to explore different options for constructively using up that energy. 

Swimming, biking, and playing tag outside are the go-to options for summer, but these aren’t your only options. Sometimes, you just can’t get outside when your kids are full of energy. In these cases, we have a few indoor options for tiring out the kids:

  • Yoga for kids: Just search YouTube for “Yoga Videos for Kids” and find the one that fits the bill. There are many themed options.
  • Dance party: One of our family favorites! Head to YouTube and search for “kids dance music videos”. Let your kids find their favorite songs and copy the dance moves as you listen. This is a good workout for moms too! 
  • Have jumping jack contests 
  • Create a volcano obstacle course: Place pillows around the floor and try to speed through the obstacle course.

Learn to Cook

Is your child interested in cooking? Grab some cook books (or videos!) and learn something new. You can explore:

  • A new technique e.g. sous vide 
  • A new recipe 
  • Different cultures’ most iconic recipes 

Get Artsy

When boredom strikes, art is a great go-to because it is time-consuming, but it also allows your child to unleash their imagination. Not sure where to start? Consider these ideas to get you started:

  • Good old fashioned coloring: Buy some new coloring books and crayons and let your child have fun coloring
  • Try painting: Kids love painting, and there’s no shortage of subjects to paint. Go out to the park or your backyard and have your child “paint what they see.”
  • Head to the craft store and explore a new type of art: Crochet (many older kids can start to learn crochet), macrame (look for kids’ kits), and clay are just a few examples of new art projects to explore

Become a Planner

Even if it’s a weekday and you don’t have the time off for a family day, let your child plan your weekend. Let them spend the day researching ideas and making a schedule for an upcoming fun family day.

Tip: For younger kids, tell them that you are going to the zoo on the weekend, and have them draw pictures of everything they want to see at the zoo. Once you’re at the zoo, you can check off the animals as you see them.


It’s a Bug’s Life

Turn on a YouTube video about helpful pollinators like bees and butterflies.

After your child learns about the pollinators, you can stretch this out into many different activities:

  • Draw pictures of bees and butterflies
  • Head outside to try and spot bees and/or butterflies
  • Plant flowers that pollinators like
  • Plan a trip to a butterfly garden
  • Watch more videos about how honey is made 
  • Find a recipe that uses honey and create that dish

Get Caught Up on Chores

I know, I know. This doesn’t sound that fun, but this option squashes boredom pretty fast. No one really likes chores, but once your child is caught up with chores, it probably won’t take long for them to think of other activities they’d rather be doing. Plus, now your house is a bit cleaner so it’s a win-win.

Bust Out the Board Games

Games are a great way to spend some time. Playing games is actually good for you! 

Board games can:

  • Improve memory and cognitive skills
  • Reduce stress
  • Create bonds with friends/family when you play together
  • Stimulate those feel-good endorphins

Let Them Be Bored 

In a go-go-go society, it can be hard to accept this thought: sometimes a little boredom is good for kids. When kids’ schedules aren’t jam-packed, it forces them to get creative. In fact, even psychologists suggest that kids slow down a bit in the summer. Specifically, having an empty schedule can give kids the opportunity to contemplate life -- rather than just rush from one activity to the next. Kids who practice mindfulness grow up to be adults who practice mindfulness.

When older kids feel bored, it gives them a chance to explore hobbies, something that might be a little harder during the busy-ness of the school year. 

Note: some children still need direction so choose this option judiciously. Nobody wants to wake up to a kitchen covered in flour and butter because two bored kids decided to bake unsupervised. 

What about you? 

How do you tackle boredom during the summer?


Kathryn is a self-proclaimed book nerd who has a passion for natural parenting and writing. As a homeschooling mother of two, Kathryn understands the dynamics of a busy family life. She is the founder of the Cor Domum movement, a mission that guides families through life so that they can parent with joy. Read more at  www.katietrudeau.com 

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