Entertaining Children

From our: Parenting Skills library.

Keeping children busy is half the battle in keeping them quiet and happy. And keeping children quiet and happy is one of the best ways to keep you, as their parent, sane and functioning.

This, of course, applies whether your child is 6 weeks or 6 months, 6 years or 16 years old.

One of the easiest ways to manage this is to throw money at the problem, whether by taking your children out to somewhere that will keep them busy, or paying someone else to entertain them. But there are two problems with that:

  • First, you may not be able to afford it; and
  • Second, your child would actually almost certainly rather have you, and your attention, than anything else.

While throwing money at the problem will of course remain an option, and one which you may choose to take at least occasionally, this section of Skills You Need focuses on entertaining children within a reasonable budget.

Where to Start?

Child entertainment of course varies hugely by the age of the children concerned, as well as the season, location, and availability of other children and adults to help provide the entertainment.

There is a huge amount of advice available on ways to entertain children of all ages, including our page: Top Tips for the School Holidays, which is a good place to start.

Our advice is broadly divided into activities to do at home, or ‘things to do’, and ‘going out’.

Activities at Home

Check out our pages on:

If you can’t bear the thought of doing craft activities at home because of the level of mess, you can always go to a craft centre, pottery café, or toddler group that provides painting, and get the mess out of the way elsewhere.

Out and About

If you’re thinking of going out and about, check out our pages on Outings with Children and Holidays with Children.

Whatever your budget, the age of your child, and the location and season, there is likely to be somewhere to go that will suit you and your child, and get you both out of the house. As many parents will testify, sometimes just leaving the house is essential, especially if it has been raining for a week without stopping.

Children and Screentime

Of course, there is the issue of the ‘electronic babysitter’, and whether it is good for children to spend time watching television or using computers and other devices. This is a perennial issue for all parents, whether your child is barely 18 months or approaching 18 years old, and there are no easy answers.

Read more about this issue on our page Screen Time for Children, including advice from experts about the amount of screen time that children of different ages should be allowed.

If your child is spending time online then you should also see: Social Media and Children and Safe Social Networking Tips.

Children's Parties

Somewhere between the age of about 18 months and five years, your child is likely to be invited to their first birthday party, and will demand their own party to reciprocate.

Some children view their own birthday parties as the social event of the year. You may well find yourself discussing ‘my next birthday party’ 24 hours after the last one has finished, or even sooner. Not unnaturally, this rather ramps up the pressure on parents to ‘get it right’.

Fortunately, on the day, children are considerably less bothered about what, precisely, is happening, and are prone to just enjoying their party.

Children's Party

For more advice about how to survive throwing a children’s party, see our pages on Planning Children’s Parties and Managing Children’s Parties.

Should you feel the need to consider a teenage party, read our page on Teenage Parties and Sleepovers.

A Busy Child is a Happy Child...

And a happy child is likely to have happy parents, or at least that’s what you can hope.

It may feel like a drag having to entertain your child, but it will be worthwhile for the sake of spending some quality time and having fun together.

Go on, you know you want to…