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What You Really Need to Keep an Active Child Busy at Home

My child is active and we are spending a lot more time at home. How do I keep my child busy?

I have been answering this question a lot lately. Almost all families I spoke with recently were looking for a solution externally. They would ask what they can buy or where they can go, probably because we are so used to taking the kids outside to play and release energy. But these days, it is not as easy to go outside. At any moment, lockdowns can happen again, and what are we going to do then?

Sure, a good answer to this question is going to be family-specific, but I wanted to share this common thread that applies to all parents and families with this question. A mindset thread.

Our mindset alone may be blocking three great ways to keep our children busy. At least three ways. So, the first step towards answering this question is doing a mindset check.

First, how we see our living space

We are used to our home spaces organized in a certain way. If we can break free from this expectation, we will open up a door to a lot more free/play space.

It’s not that we have guests come over these days anyway.

I have started an indoor play board on Pinterest with all kinds of indoor play ideas.

Next, whose job is it to keep your child busy?

many parents believe that it is their job to keep their child busy

No, it is not! You have many important jobs as a parent, but keeping your child busy is really not your job.

Where the line is drawn here is offering your child developmentally appropriate options to stay busy. But “what to do now” and how long to spend on any one activity, that’s their decision as long as it is not interfering with their schedule like bedtime or dinner time…etc.

Also, I know it is hard to accept, but children should get bored sometimes. It is good for them. I don’t mean to neglect them, but feeling boredom opens up doors to creativity and exploration.

As long as they have things to keep them engaged, and they are in a safe space, being bored is totally ok. Let them get bored!

Then, who does your housework?

No, I would never suggest that your children do all the cleaning by themselves. This is not about child labor.

However, when asked this question, most parents preferred to clean the house as an adult chore. They said they typically clean when the kids are sleeping or busy doing something else like attending school or watching a movie.

That's one way to do it, of course. But it is a wasteful way for three reasons:

1. Your child is more than capable of helping you with housework. Give the younger ones active bits like fluffing pillows, folding large sheets and towels, and sweeping floors.

2. It is full of benefits! Helping you with housework keeps children busy, instills good habits of both cleanliness and helping others, and gives them a sense of accomplishment. It also keeps them active and off screens.

3. It frees you up. If the house is clean and the kids are tired, then you have some downtime for yourself. Catch up on work, drink your coffee while it is still warm, relax, take a nap, get an uninterrupted workout. Think opportunities!

As parents, our mindset could be blocking our children from releasing their energy regularly and safely indoors, depriving us of precious "me time" opportunities, and responsible for unnecessary frustrations.

I would strongly recommend that you start by exploring some shifts in living space and responsibilities. These shifts alone could do the trick. It has already worked for many families.

Need some help working it out?

Let’s think it through together. Connect with me

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