“Mum, I’m not bored”: encouraging unstructured school holiday play

unstructured playAnother round of school holidays is almost upon us. I can’t believe how fast the year is flying by!

While some parents dread the two weeks that lie ahead, I absolutely love the break to the routine of school drop off, pick up and weekly after school activities.

Many studies and parenting professionals remind us of the importance of not over-scheduling our children’s lives.

The school holidays provide my children, and myself, with some much needed time just to breathe and refuel from the busyness of the term behind us.

One of the greatest ways to do this – and keep boredom at bay – is through unstructured, imaginative play.

A fond memory I have is of my six-year-old daughter collecting flowers, leaves, sticks and small rocks while we headed out for a walk after school the other day. But she didn’t just leave it there. When she got home she created a beautiful artwork using the items she had collected that day.

It is this type of activity that needs to be incorporated more into our children’s lives.

So if your kids are crying out “Mum, I’m bored” these school holidays, here are some ideas for unstructured play and activities that you could suggest, then let them take over and use their own imagination!

Nature’s playground – encourage your children to wander around the backyard collecting flowers, leaves and other items. Take the time to stop and really watch insects and wildlife at work in the environment. Maybe your children will be inspired to use the special items they have collected in their play later in the day or the week.

Build a cubby house – pull out the spare blankets, grab some chairs or use the table to create a cosy place to read, play or draw.

Get baking – let the kids choose a recipe to bake then enjoy a lovely afternoon tea together or even head out on a picnic.

Head to your local park – many playgrounds these days are so much more than just a swing, slide and see-saw, they really encourage your children to use their imagination while also keeping active.

Hide and seek – played inside or out, this is simple but great fun! You never know, your children might discover an old, forgotten toy in a hiding place along the way to keep their playtime going.

Create a performance – let the kids dress up and put on a dance, singing or magic show. There’s bound to be plenty of laughter and memory-making moments.

Play board, card or paper games – turn off the screens and pull out a game of snap, Uno, Scrabble, Monopoly or whatever else you have at home. They could even use some paper or a chalkboard to play a game of Tic Tac Toe or Hangman.

Go for a walk or a bike ride – the warmer weather is the perfect opportunity to discover your local bike or walking trail, get some fresh air and enjoy nearby park or bushland.

Backyard obstacle course – use items from around the home to create a series of challenges to get the kids moving. Older children could even use a stopwatch to time themselves if they want to speed things up a little.

Ultimately, this list is only limited by your children’s imagination … but hopefully it has provided some inspiration to help you guide them in the right direction and towards hours of school holiday entertainment.

For some more fun school holiday ideas, check out my post on 14 ways to enjoy the school holidays without going broke.


14 thoughts on ““Mum, I’m not bored”: encouraging unstructured school holiday play

  1. My youngest daughter is almost 12, but when she has friends over their favourite thing to do is build elaborate cubby houses in her room with blankets and chairs and cushions. They spend hours building it and then once it’s done, they sit in there with books, or watch a movie on the iPad. (Came via #FYBF)

  2. I love it when my boys put on a dance show! It creates such wonderful memories! Hopefully we’ll be doing it tomorrow when it’s my day off work and they’re not in daycare.

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