More than likely your children have more than enough toys to play with. It might even amaze you that with all the 'things' they have available to them, they can still say, "I'm bored." They want to sit in front of the television or tablet and play games and watch their favorite shows all day, if you let them. It seems easier this way because there's no arguing or grumbling or whining. But, you and especially your children, will be much better off playing with their toys instead of looking at a screen. How can you transition from where you are now to where you want to be?
1. Organize! Make sure your toys are easily accessible and can be put away with minimal to no help. Your children will be able to independently play if it's easy enough. Try setting out only a fews toys at a time. When your children look at a whole room of toys, it may seem overwhelming to them. What should they play with first? Where can they play with it? By giving only a few at a time, your child will be able to become more creative with the toys, play at a more in-depth level, and be able to make a choice when it's play time. Your children won't have time to get sick of toys if you exchange them out every week or two. And, you will all have less cleaning with less toys around; that's a win!
2. Age/Interest/Safety Appropriate! Do you have 500 piece puzzles set out for your five year old? Is your thirteen year old pawing through old Barbies that she doesn't like anymore? Does your eight year old have an erector set that requires the help of an adult? Make sure the toys you have available are interesting for your child, appropriate for his abilities, and is safe to use alone in case they are in another room playing. Check out this website for ideas:
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3. Play with your child! Sometimes all it takes is five minutes of a grownup playing with a child for them to become interested and continue playing. It's a great way to share a different perspective for your child to see and build your relationship. Be sure you don't create dependency so your child thinks she needs you to play every time. If it becomes an issue (or is one already), use a timer for her to play by herself before you join. Continue increasing the time until she's playing independently again (or for the first time).
4. Encourage ACTIVITIES! Just playing with toys all the time can become boring. Offer your child some activity ideas or better yet, have them brainstorm with you! Some ideas for activities include arts and crafts projects, science experiments, creating a movie or cartoon, building a large domino track, and so on. In nice weather, collecting pieces of nature and playing or crafting with them can be fun for children. Staples such as clay or Play-doh are often great activities. And, you could always pull out a board game or a deck of cards...
Providing activities and opportunities where your child can let out energy, fill some sensory needs, and just be crazy is a great choice. Playing ball, swinging, playing with dough, wrestling, carrying heavy objects, exercising, and dancing are all ways to inspire your children.