by Kelli Catana

Well here we are – just over a week into summer vacation and already chants of “I’m bored” and “I don’t know what to do” are being whined throughout my house.

I have separated kids, sent kids to their rooms, invited playdates over and packed snacks for park trips already and still, my children are at a loss for ways to keep themselves amused!  And did I mention that I have four kids?! That’s a playdate right there in itself!   I would give my right arm for a day to be “bored” – just sayin’.

Let’s look at the last few days. Last week I invited two kids over to play and swim with my kids – fun right?  Well after about two hours, all of them were looking at me because ‘they were bored’ and ‘they had nothing to do’.  This was after swimming, going to the park, and flying kites.  That’s right – my poor, deprived kids.  So sad that there’s never anything for them to do.

Today after going borderline crazy from all the sibling fighting going on in my house, I packed my brood along with water bottles, snacks, juice boxes and towels and brought them to a local splash pad and park so that they could run off their energy.  As soon as we arrived at the park – which was packed with children splashing and playing – all four of my kids proceeded to plunk themselves down on the blanket I brought and announce that they didn’t know what to do.

At a park. That had a splash pad. And a million kids! Sound familiar to anyone?

I don’t know what it is with kids these days.  I feel a million years old for saying this, but really – what is it?  Have we spoiled our kids with so much attention that when we leave them to fend for themselves they have no idea how to keep busy?

When I was young my siblings and I were sent outside and told to return when the street lights came on.  We played and rode our bikes and kept ourselves entertained for hours on end. why are our kids bored more than when we were kids?

My kids get sent outside to play and within three minutes one of them is either crying or coming back inside complaining that they are either too hot/thirsty/have to pee/have nothing to do or all of the above.  When I was a kid once my parents sent us outside to play we knew better than to turn around and complain to our parents.

Are we too soft on our kids? Have we given them too much? Do they rely on us for entertainment to the point that they can’t go outside and keep themselves entertained for longer than 10 minutes?

I know this isn’t just me because I talk to parents every day who are going through the same thing. Granted we live in a different world than when we were kids and we can’t very well send our kids out to play and ask them to return when it gets dark but these kids need to know that they have to start using their imagination.

So do we blame video games, or television that has 24-hours-a-day children’s programming, or are our kids just too damn indulged? I have to tell you that I have uttered the phrase ‘if you come in this house one more time….’ to my kids more times than I’m proud to admit in these first few days of summer vacation.  I’m a work at home and I just don’t have the time or patience to play camp counselor to my kids all summer. I get that I need to take them out for fun things, but there is also time that they need to take the initiative and just play!

So tell me, am I alone here?  How do you get your kids to entertain themselves?

50 Fun Things for Kids to Do Outside


Kelli Catana is a wife and mother of four who has a healthy obsession with celebrity gossip and coffee.  You can find her imparting her opinion on all things celebrity at  Follow her on Twitter.



Maria Lianos-Carbone is the author of “Oh Baby! A Mom’s Self-Care Survival Guide for the First Year”, and publisher of, a leading lifestyle blog for women.


  1. My sister just told me what she does when the kids say “I’m bored”. She gives them a chore. Whether it’s sweeping the floor, cleaning the dishes, vacuuming the stairs, racking the lawn, whatever… They have no choice in the matter of doing the chore after they have said they are bored. After they do the chore they don’t say I’m bored and find stuff to amuse themselves with. They don’t say those dreaded words so much anymore 🙂 I’ve started doing that with my daughter. Works right now like a charm 🙂

  2. I think the chore idea is great. That’s what I do with my kids too. It provides some structure in their day. (But my kids are older.)
    I definitely think they’re all more indulged/protected/spoiled/herded into things than we were.

  3. We all look forward to summer but when it comes along – it’s boring. We have a pool right across the street but we have to go with the kids to swim, they are too young to be unattended outside our yard. I completely understand. We can’t always drop what we do to entertain and I’m sorry but not everybody has money for summer camps and day camps and costly summer activities..We try to go about twice a week and on weekends for fun and it still seems not enough. .When mine say they are bored I also give them the chore option. Use your god given imagination and find something to do or I’ll find something for you to do. Imagine and I only have 2 kids.

  4. When my kids complain of boredum I invite them to help me with whatever I am doing. Laundry, cooking, cleaning whatever…

  5. i too am at a loss. your story was like reading my own life, thankfully school starts in 3 days, so they will have full loads. i miss the old days

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