freelance life

Boredom Box Ideas for Work at Home Parents

150+ Boredom Box Ideas by Ruth Dawkins

When people ask what the best and worst thing is about having only one child, I never have any problems answering the question. The best is that I’m able to give my son lots of attention and we have an absolute ton of fun together. The worst is that there are times when I’m his only playmate and honestly, I just don’t want to start that second game of Monopoly, or that third game of Police Chase.

Boredom in kids can be a really good thing because it can spark their imagination. One of my favourite ever guest posts over on my parenting blog DorkyMum was from my friend Chris Mosler, who normally blogs as Thinly Spread, writing about why letting your children experience boredom is so valuable.

But that statement comes with caveats. Unlike Chris’s children, my son doesn’t have siblings to keep an eye on him. In contrast with my upbringing on a tiny island, we now live in a city with a lot of busy roads nearby, and not many friends within walking distance. He is only eight, and I don’t feel comfortable yet just kicking him out of the house in the morning and welcoming him back for dinner.

The flexibility of freelance life means that I feel very lucky having so much time to spend with my son, and I intentionally keep school holidays very quiet on the work front. Even so, the thought of seven long weeks of holiday stretching ahead of us is a daunting one, and I know that I will need the occasional hour to myself to catch up on emails.

With that in mind, I’m doing something new this year and creating a boredom box. It’s nothing fancy: just a decorated shoebox containing a couple of notepads, stationery and craft supplies, and two jars full of suggestions for activities.

The first jar is full of activities that we can do together: go to the museum, beach, or a café. Play a board game, or do some baking. If ever we have one of those days where we’re both in a bit of a slump, I’m hoping that my son can stick his hand in the jar and pull out a suggestion to inspire us both.

The second jar is full activities that he can do alone. It is a mixture of fun stuff (watch a movie, play with Lego, do some painting), slightly-less-fun stuff (water the plants, practice tying your shoelaces, tidy your room), and educational stuff (write a letter to a politician, find 10 new facts about your favourite country, draw a map of the house).

I’m hoping we won’t need to use the boredom box too much. The first week of holidays will be taken up with Christmas and New Year. We are heading away for a few days, and then my son has a couple of weeks where he’ll start every day with a swimming lesson so we’ll be out and about anyway.

But for those other days – those difficult days – when it is raining, or I have an unexpected project that I have to work on, I feel good knowing I’ve got something up my sleeve. I’ve intentionally made a lot of the suggestions open-ended so they will hopefully lead him to other activities rather than just the suggested ten or twenty minutes on each.

If you’d like to make your own boredom box, or a more simple boredom jar, I’ve listed some suggestions for things you could include below. You can customise them for your own town or city, and the age and interests of your child.

  1. Watch a DVD
  2. Rent a movie on Foxtel
  3. Draw something interesting that you find in the garden
  4. Make a list of something in the house beginning with every letter of the alphabet
  5. Invent a comic book superhero – draw a picture, give him or her a name, and write about their magic powers
  6. Write a poem about Tasmania
  7. Write a poem about the sea
  8. Write a postcard to a friend
  9. Ask Mum for a magazine, cut it up and make a collage
  10. Look through a scrapbook or memory box
  11. Ask Mum for an old photo album to look through
  12. Choose an interesting looking book from the grownups’ bookcase and spend some time reading it.
  13. Choose a poetry book from Daddy’s shelves and spend some time reading it, then write your own poem
  14. Choose any sports equipment or game from the garage and play with it
  15. Play swingball
  16. Have a teddy bear picnic
  17. Learn 5 new words from the dictionary
  18. Choose a CD to listen to
  19. Look through the recipe books and something to make
  20. Choose something from the games cupboard you haven’t done in a while
  21. Build something from Lego
  22. Find something from the house that is every colour of the rainbow
  23. Choose 3 things you’ve grown out – toys, books or clothes – that can go to the op shop
  24. Write down 25 interesting facts about yourself
  25. Write something as a note on my phone or iPad and we’ll send it as an email
  26. Choose 5 things from the kitchen drawers or cupboards and draw them
  27. Pick 3 foods from the fridge or cupboard that you’ve never eaten and try them.
  28. Write about your dream dinner party – who would come, where would it be, what would you eat?
  29. Use your ‘Write Your Own Story’ book to write a new story
  30. Let’s go and run a circuit of the oval across the road
  31. Write about your dream holiday – where would you go, what would you do, who would be there?
  32. Water the garden
  33. Do some drawing using your left hand
  34. Look through a magazine
  35. Choose an activity book and do some puzzles
  36. Choose a room in the house to dust
  37. Skip
  38. Find a fun way to play with a tennis ball
  39. Do a jigsaw
  40. Draw a map of the house or garden
  41. Draw a robot
  42. Load or unload the dishwasher
  43. Play with Playmobil
  44. Play with your toy cars
  45. Do some drawings with your eyes closed
  46. Choose a new YouTube channel and watch 10 minutes of it
  47. Let’s go for a beach walk
  48. Practice tying your shoes
  49. Make some pretty patterns with the seaglass from the bowl upstairs
  50. Choose a piece of sea glass pottery and see if you can draw the design that’s on it
  51. Paint a rainbow
  52. Spend ten minutes in the garden and write down all the sounds you hear
  53. Draw an animal and write a story about it
  54. Draw a group of friends and write a short story about them
  55. Write down 5 things you’re looking forward to at your new school
  56. Make a card for someone
  57. Let’s go to the park
  58. Design a flag for our family
  59. Take the recycling out
  60. Have a bubble bath and stay in for as long as you like
  61. Clean your toilet
  62. Make your bed
  63. Draw a self-portrait
  64. Hoover any room of the house
  65. Sweep out the garage
  66. Fold some laundry
  67. Make a picture using leaves, grass and flowers from the garden
  68. Learn some origami
  69. Plan a show for me and Daddy
  70. Polish a pair of shoes
  71. Write a letter to someone who lived 100 years ago telling them about what life is like now
  72. Let’s go and pick up trash on the oval
  73. Blow an egg and decorate it
  74. Let’s go and walk the trails
  75. Let’s make a beach treasure bundle to give someone
  76. Choose some new fruit or veg at the grocery store to try
  77. Let’s go to the library.
  78. Let’s go to the beach.
  79. Let’s go to the museum
  80. Let’s go to a café
  81. Let’s walk somewhere we’ve never been before
  82. Make your own snack plate
  83. Make toast
  84. Let’s buy a magazine you’ve never read before
  85. Use your atlas, dictionary, books or the internet to write down 10 facts about your favourite country
  86. Take some time to read the Banksy book
  87. Have a look at the Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls book and work out which person you find most interesting
  88. Read the Street Art book and try to copy your favourite picture
  89. Write down your biggest secret, seal it in an envelope and put it somewhere safe
  90. Count the money in the camper van money box
  91. Invent a machine, draw it and explain what it does
  92. Make something from recycled materials
  93. Paint some rocks
  94. Sort through your craft box
  95. Tidy your bookshelves
  96. Tidy your playroom
  97. Design your own Lego Minifgure
  98. Look through the hats and gloves in the cupboard and try on as many as you like
  99. Draw something nice I can stick on the fridge
  100. Help with the laundry – start a load, fold it, or put it away
  101. Count how many pictures are on the walls of our house then choose your favourite and draw your own version, or write about what you think is happening in the picture.
  102. Practice using a sharp knife by cutting something soft like a banana or avocado.
  103. Take your binoculars outside and find something interesting
  104. Take your magnifying glass into the garden and look at things close up
  105. Choose one of these and I’ll teach you how to use it: peeler, grater, garlic press.
  106. Squeeze some orange juice
  107. Invite someone on a playdate
  108. Let’s go to the cinema
  109. Write a postcard to someone you miss
  110. Learn how to make a cup of tea
  111. Find something in the house you don’t know how to use
  112. Have a piece of candy
  113. Let’s walk on the trails
  114. Let’s go for a bike ride
  115. Let’s visit Daddy in his office
  116. Let’s walk to your new school and see how long it takes us
  117. Think of something we can do to help Sea Shepherd
  118. Make a poster telling people how they can help the environment
  119. Write a nice note for Daddy to find when he comes home
  120. Make a time capsule
  121. Pick some flowers from the garden we can put in a vase
  122. See how many different insects you can find in the garden
  123. Weigh some things using the scales
  124. Bash something up using the pestle and mortar
  125. Make a George’s Marvellous Medicine mixture using things from the cupboard
  126. Polish the silverware
  127. Look in Daddy’s toolbox
  128. Make a video of yourself
  129. Make a sign for your bedroom door
  130. Look through your old Crinkling News
  131. Look through your old NG Kids
  132. Let’s have a picnic lunch in the garden
  133. Let’s go to the Tip shop
  134. Sweep the garage
  135. Sweep the kitchen floor
  136. Write a letter to your favourite author
  137. Write a letter to a politician about something you’d like to change
  138. Choose an activity to do from your Art for Kids book
  139. Spend some time looking at your badge collection
  140. Let’s go to the climbing centre
  141. Use your Learn to Draw Books and draw some pictures
  142. Write a menu for the week ahead
  143. Read a book you haven’t read in a long time
  144. Help me make your lunch
  145. Draw something only using straight lines
  146. Play a card game
  147. Look through your box of baby toys
  148. Look through your box of baby books
  149. Look through your bag of dressing up clothes
  150. Spend some time looking through your special boxes in your bedroom
  151. Help me wash the car
  152. Choose something on TV you’ve never watched before
  153. Write a guest post for my blog about something you care about
  154. Make jelly


To all my fellow work-from-home parents staring down the barrel of summer holidays, good luck, and I’ll see you on the other side!

4 thoughts on “Boredom Box Ideas for Work at Home Parents”

  1. Pingback: Nine « dorkymum

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