How to keep an 8 year old boy occupied – ideas needed!

You’ve gotta love school. Teachers are amazing aren’t they? They get our children to sit down quietly and learn things and craft things and play in the playground. By the end of this first half-term though my two school-goers were completely knackered, they needed a rest at home with mummy and I was really looking forward to it. In fairness, the first three days of half term were lovely, the rest were… challenging.

At the beginning of the week we went to see Nana and fed the ducks.

We went to the Botanical gardens for food and a play.

…and we wandered around Wandlebury with some friends. The weather was glorious and we all just made the most of being outside.

It was soooo freakin dreamy! Then, it got chilly and a bit rainy and quite a lot less fun. Strangely, being stuck inside with an energetic eight year old boy Is not very relaxing.

Something has changed since the summer holidays, Sam has suddenly become a big boy. Playing with his sisters is not as much fun as it used to be, playing on his own with his toy figures just doesn’t hold his interest as it used to do. All he wants to do is do something sporty or spend hours on the iPad. I have to admit it was a relief to get him back to school – at least they know how to keep him occupied!

Although all this growing up stuff is normal and good, it’s a bit of a nightmare from a, mothering during the winter months, point of view. Now he’s back at school, I absolutely don’t want every moment he spends at home glued to a small screen. It’s not just the fact that he’s pretty much absent from us when he’s playing these computer games, it’s the subsequent anger he sometimes flashes when it’s time to finish his game and do something in the real world. Somehow TV seems quite wholesome in comparison to computer game time and it’s a never-ending battle to try to keep him occupied with other stuff. He can’t do a club every night, he’d be exhausted and now it’s getting dark, football after school isn’t really an option, so how do I keep him away from his screen obsession??? Really, how???

Even during Isabelle’s birthday party he (and most of the other kids) retreated into the living room for a mass Minecraft session. For them it was brilliant, the idea of all wandering around the same virtual Minecraft world was about as fabulous as it gets. image What about wandering around the real life garden together? Not a chance! After the treasure hunt and a brief bounce on the trampoline by the smallest ones, the garden became redundant, even though it was gloriously sunny and mild! For us parents it felt as though we’d simply put off the inevitable. It was easier to just let them do that than listen to their relentless, “when can we play Minecraft?” mantra.

When Sam’s not playing on the iPad, he ends up complaining that he’s bored, teasing his sisters and making them scream. When his sisters are screaming, I flip. Something happens in my brain that turns me into a wild-eyed, roaring bear. I don’t like it and neither do my poor, cowering children. What do we gather from this? We gather that he needs to be occupied.

As of Tuesday, he’s only allowed to play on the iPad when I’m putting his sisters to bed. So far so good. This is mainly due to the fact that he did swimming one day and went to a friend’s house today. What the heck do I suggest as an alternative for the rest of his life at home? In reality I don’t have the time to entertain him, I’ve got to sort out dinner, do baths and put two out of three kids to bed. I’m pretty much hoping that without access to the iPad he’ll come up with something else to do himself, I just a have sneaking feeling that even when he does find something else to do he’ll still pester me to let him play on it.

So, someone, anyone, tell me what to do with this lovely bored boy. What did boys do in the olden days? I want him to have downtime after school that doesn’t include technology. Please, parents of boys, any ideas and advice will be gratefully received and promptly passed on!


My beloved, yet bored son.

6 thoughts on “How to keep an 8 year old boy occupied – ideas needed!

  1. I have a nearly ten year old and for a while there we saw how instantly the screen addiction began to happen. The aggression when it was time to trn it off dropped our jaws a few times. I noticed his interest in everything else began to wan as well, and since we live in the heart of the city, going out to play is not really an option. Someone suggested a relaxing sort of class outdoors to keep him occupied, and when I found a kids cooking class being held every Saturday for two hours, I signed both kids right up. My son still adores attending more than his sister does, and he loves experimenting at home which keeps him busy and with me close enough to keep an eye on him, it works. – Also, I suggest a music class, we started with basic piano and got them a keyboard (not sure how affordable they are there but ours was second hand because budgets suck) – He loves it and practicies a lot. He hated it at first though and asked for football classes a month in, so I offered him those if he completed four months of music and showed he could stick to something. It worked out well. – I know these might not be the best suggestion because classes cost, but just getting an instrument at home can keep a kid occupied, so don’t rule it out completely.

    And, last but in no way least… Books! My daughter took to them like a fish to water, but B again lost interest, so the huz got him stacks (again from used book stores) of comic books of his favourite comic characters. Big hit. He gets lost in them for hours and now reads any and everything we throw at him. It takes time to wean them off something like the screen, but try stuff and see what works.

    Good luck.

    • Oooh, comics, what a good idea. I’ve just got him some star wars books too so maybe he’ll get the reading bug??!? I hope so, I used to read for hours in my room as a teenager but can’t remember about when I was a pre-teen.

      He did express an interest in the piano this morning. My daughter has lessons and he seemed pretty keen so perhaps he’ll go for that.
      Thanks for taking the time to comment xxx

  2. I have 4 brothers and my parents are super old fashioned so they don’t have any ipads etc, not that my brothers wouldn’t love them though! Anyways, my brothers are 14, 12, 9 and 6. They like to: Build things out of scrap wood such as bird houses, carve things etc (I get scared because carving seems dangerous but…), read, ride bikes, they like taking things apart and putting them back together like lawn mower engines. (I realize that is kind of large but maybe something small scale?) They like to help my mom garden which could also translate to house plants and window boxes…. I can’t think of anything else right now but I sure hope you are able to find things he likes to keep him occupied. I know it’s tough sometimes. It seems boys have so much energy!

  3. Great post, I totally understand how you feel as I have a now 8 year old son!! He’s energetic, not great at entertaining himself and would play football or have my attention 100% of the time. Maybe its because he was my first and I entertained him too much. He also loves the wii and ipad, but I try to limit it as much as i can. Even if its drizzly or cold I try to get out at weekends when I can. After school I find it hard as I understand they don’t want to do home work straight away so a bit of TV is a good down time, then I try and encourage them to do ‘something’ and if I have time I’ll do a game with them. If its dry I do stop at a park on the way home so he can just run!! He did start guitar lessons which have temp stopped but we want to encourage as its something he can loose himself in. Bring on the summer I say.

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