18 answers

Kids Have Nothing to Do

HI everyone.

I constantly feel like I have to initiate things for my kids to do.
I want them to do activites, have friends etc. But in reality they come home exhausted and bored after a day at school.
Then the nagging over the never ending homework starts, and it's like we never get anything done?
I feel as if all I do is nag them.
I also find it strange that they don't seem to have any close friends.
Is it too early maybe?
My son is in 4th grade, and my daughter in 2nd.
My daughter has gone home to one friend a few times during the last years, my son has been invited to one birthday party.
On the flip side, I always invited the whole class for my kids birthdays, until last year when I had finally had it. I just felt like all I did was make it fun for a couple of kids that we'd never see again, parents were happy to drop them off, and all me and husband did was run around babysitting all day instead of enjoying the day.
I guess I'm asking to see how your kids find friends, what kind of activites do they do?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks for all your answers.
At least now I know I am not the only one!
My kids are not really into sports, believe me I have tried, so that whole team thing is hard to come by.
I have tried to invite friends, but it's tough.
I will ltry hearder I guess, and just hope it gets better once they get older.

Featured Answers

I could have written this myself. My daughter did start a new school this year, but...I just find it so odd that she doesn't get invited for playdates, etc. :( She is not in organized sports, because it's just not her thing and she isn't happy doing them so I did not see any point in making her continue with them. I also work full time so am not able to be up at the school often meeting other parents...just really sucks all around and I do not remember my elementary school years being like that.

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I will echo Shannon. I have a 10-yr-old boy in 5th grade and a 6.5-yr-old girl in 1st grade. Both are in new schools this year. He is in a private school and she is in a public school. I never used to initiate playdates for him when he was younger (my mistake) so deep friendships didn't really develop the 4 years in was in a public elementary school. He was sad that friends never called him for playdates and I was surprised he wasn't invited to birthday parties. It turned out, what I needed to really do, was initiate it so friendships can develop.

BTW, he does have friends on the block, but this is hit and miss. Not everyone is so nice to him. So I actually prefer he doesn't play with them anymore (or as much as he used to) and deepen bonds with friends he really connects with at other places.

Anyway, it's been really hard for me personally to pick up the phone and initiate, but that's what I've done and it's made a huge difference. Since December, my son really felt better about his new school and this was simply due to feeling connected to 2 kids out of 24. I asked him who he wanted a playdate w/ and he gave me 3 names. So we take turns, he goes over there for playdates/sleepovers or they come here. It's nice because now the mom feels comfortable calling me to have her son come over (he was begging to play with my son) vs. staying home with a sitter. It's a win-win.

My daughter also has been making friends, but again I call to initiate and then people feel comfortable calling her up for a playdate. I don't call the same child over and over again, I try to mix it up so she can feel comfortable and happy with a wider group (now it's 3 girls).

When she was an infant, I had a very good girlfriend and we hung out a lot and now both our girls are Best Friends. They love each other and I'm so happy for that. She goes to another school, but they still ask for each other. Our families know each other so well, sleepovers are not out of the question. So I don't think this is too early. In fact, I believe if you wait for middle school for them to find friends, it will be a lot harder for you to get to know the families.

ACTIVITIES
My daughter stays in her room and plays with her friend.
My son is more active and prefers me to take him somewhere fun with the friend and I'm happy to do that on occasion. Or they stay home (we have a huge park across the street). At night they watch a movie for a sleepover.

I'M BORED
I hear that more from my son, who is very social and friendly and outgoing. He is extroverted so he definitely needs "friend" time. Introverts crave alone time. I haven't done the "here is the list of chores if you are bored" but I have begun doing it recently.

BIRTHDAYS
I used to do the same thing. Now I try to focus on a few close friends they want to hang with. You really can't depend on one day for friendship to be formed. It has to be one-on-one.

ACTIVITIES & HOMEWORK
If they are exhausted when they come home, you can't really load activities on top of them. Do they have outside interests? If they do, then they will ask for the activities. One way to get them interested in activities is to have them do it. You need to take them out and introduce them to it.

NAGGING
Try to be in a good mood. Imagine someone videotaping you after school and see if you like what you see. If you don't, change your attitude and lighten it up. I have recently turned into a harpie at bedtime because I was exhausted at the end of the day and they were dawdling. Now I work hard on my patience and keeping it loving and kind.

2 moms found this helpful

Parties are overrated. I had one each for my kids and that was it. Lots of moms dont go that route especially during this recession. Sounds like you are just looking for somewhere for your kids to go and not be bored. I'd introduce them to some good books, reading a long story is one of the best escapes ever. Take a few trips to the library. Your kids are 7 and 9, still at a fairly easy age to keep occupied or occupy themselves. When I was 10 and my sis was 7 we loved playing monopoly. Get them some good "thinking" board games. And they should use their own imaginations when they get home from school. Bored people are boring people they say.

2 moms found this helpful

Widen your circle...do you have a church that you are a member of? The Sunday School classes might be a good source of friends...get them involved in a sport of some sort...start out in the country parks and recreations department...see what sounds interesting to them. How about Cub Scouts for your son? I am not sure if your daughter is old enough for Brownies yet or not. Join a art class at the library....a study group at the local museum....swim classes at the Y . Anywhere that kids hang out...that is where they need to be in order to meet boys and girls with similar interests to them...which is the basis for a good friendship.

1 mom found this helpful

My kids are in 1st & 4th grade. I talk to my kids and find out who they sat next to at lunch, who they played with during recess and what they did. This gives me a window into their world. Then, after asking my kids if they want to have a playdate with those friends, I initiate it. I find that few other parents initiate playdates. After a friend comes over to our house one or two times, the friend is begging their parents to allow my kids to come over to their own house to play. Hence, a relationship is born. Not all playdates work out, but it is I who have to make the effort to foster relationships outside of school. Also then, birthday parties become more meaningful.

I also echo a mom who said that you don't say "I'm bored" without expecting to do some chore. I don't plan activities for my kids to do unless I'm wanting bonding time with them. They keep themselves busy and if they complain about being bored, then I have a whole slew of things that need to be done. My kids don't complain about being bored!

1 mom found this helpful

my boys have always had friends from sports teams, if you sign them up in their area usually there are a few kids from their school on the team and they seem to bond better both in and out of school. We have moved around alot so the boys have been the new kid a few times but sports always seems to be common ground.

1 mom found this helpful

Oh. The dreaded "bored" word.
When I was a kid, we never dared say it because next thing we knew, we were out raking leaves, pulling weeds, running the vacuum or folding a few loads of laundry. Your kids are old enough to find things to do themselves. My sister and I used to invent our own board games.
It takes a little bit of space, but how about letting them make an herb garden on the back porch. It just takes a container, some seeds and watering, but it can be really fun for kids.
You might take them to the library one day a week or sign them up for a class of some kind where they can meet and be around other kids.

I always told my kids that the longer they spent nagging over their homework, the longer it would take. Best to get dive in and get it done.

I agree with another mom who said that getting a schedule in place is a big help.

Best wishes.

1 mom found this helpful

It seems to me that inviting kids over once a year for a birthday party, while nice, isn't really how strong relationships are built. It's more of a daily process. Our plan for our daughters (age 33 months and five months) is to be the home everybody comes to. So we'll be doing lots of inviting over the years. We've already started with some friends we made who had babies at the same time as our 33 month old. And two of them have babies that are also the same age as our infant. It's working out so far.
Just to be clear, *I'm* not the one who came up with this fabulous plan. Part of it was something our childbirth educator likes to encourage that we decided to try, and the rest of it was my husband talking about what life as child was like for him. My son, who's considerably older did not get the benefit of these ideas, and I can see that he has the same difficulties bonding that I did.
Best wishes,
S. :+)

1 mom found this helpful

Hi E.,
You've gotten some great responses, all good ideas. At this age, parents really do need to be involved in helping forge close friendships. I have 2 daughters 10 and 18, so I can only speak from the girl's perspective that at least one close girlfriend will be really important when the cliques start forming and the mean girls rear their ugly heads in 3rd or 4th grade. My daughter struggled with this to the point of regular tears after school last year (4th grade) to the where the principal finally asked us for a list of girls not to place her with this year, and 2-3 girls she would like to have in her class. She is having a fantastic year now, and has strengthened friendship with the 2 girls we chose to have in her class. I would suggest reaching out to kids of parents who you like and respect their parenting skills, and who you can talk to openly. Last year when one girl in particular was being especially mean to my daughter, and I had talked to the girl's mother several times without success, my husband called her and she actually said to him "We have a life, I don't have time for this!" No doubt where the girl gets her attitude, parents are key in helping their kids choose good friends.

An activity we have done successfully is "movie night" where we picked up several girls around 6:00 on a Friday night and brought them back to our house for pizza and a movie. After the movie, they did their nails and silly hairdos. Parents picked up at 10:00. Gives parents a night out, and gives the kids just enough time to have fun and want more. I'm hoping this will turn into a revolving movie night as other girls want to host it at their houses. For my older daughter when she was in High School, movie night included boys, (I know you're not ready to hear that) which was a great way for them to socialize outside of school since none of them drove, and they really weren't ready for dating. The best part is we got to know these boys, and the parents of most of of them. This did turn into a regular movie night (or guitar hero night at the boy's houses) at revolving houses for a couple of years. As parents, we bonded too, and knew we were all committed to being home on these nights which is important for boys and girls at that age.

In elementary school, volunteering at the school is a good way to get to know other parents with whom you can arrange reciprocal play dates. And, I would second the suggestion of Scouts and sports teams, both good ways to get to know the entire family.

1 mom found this helpful

Do they participate in any extracurricular activities? I have 2 kids (9yrs and 6yrs,) one takes piano, drama club, and hula. The other one is in gymnastics, soccer and hula. They socialize with other kids at these activities. Another great opportunity for growth and friends is church. My kids LOVE the other kids at church, and always want to play with them. Do they socialize with other kids in the neighborhood? I always invite kids over, from school, activities, neighbors, and make it a welcoming environment for them, so we have kids over quite often. I don't spend my time entertaining them, but I do feed them when they need a snack, remind them that it is "clean up time" 20 minutes before it is time to go home and maintain a good relationship with the other kids parents. I find that we invite other kids WAY more than they invite my kids, but I am OK with that, because I want to know how my kids spend their time, and that is easier to do at my house. Did you ever ask them why they don't want to have friends come over to play?

I was a stay at home mom and I think this helped to a certain degree. I was always volunteering at school, in class and out of class. Also being there to walk them to class in the morning and pick up in the afternoons. That is how I had met most other mom's and my daughter usually had friend's that I got along well with their parents. Most of them were stay at home mom's too or worked parttime. I found this to be easy. Being a working mom or if they take the bus to and from school can make that a little harder. My kids would talk about one or two certain friends they wanted to play with and then I would ask them to try to get their phone numbers so that I could talk to their parents. A little more work on my end, but doable. Sometimes sports through the city works well too. Gets them out to a practice one night a week and also a game on Sat. Hope some of this helps.

I could have written this myself. My daughter did start a new school this year, but...I just find it so odd that she doesn't get invited for playdates, etc. :( She is not in organized sports, because it's just not her thing and she isn't happy doing them so I did not see any point in making her continue with them. I also work full time so am not able to be up at the school often meeting other parents...just really sucks all around and I do not remember my elementary school years being like that.

Maybe you need to give them a little schedule. and you too. Following a schedule is good for the whole family. My kids are tired when they get home, so we allow them to play ds or tv for a short time to wind down.
Then after an hour, while I am cooking dinner....they have to do homework.
After dinner, they have to do their showers and then they have about 1 hour and a half to do fun stuff. Play games or play in their rooms or family time.

If you kind of write things out as to what to do...then maybe they will be better to follow and your not nagging so much about it.

I feel like I am always the one setting up playdates and friends , but honestly we don't do it much after school. They have swimming and/or gym and girl scouts once a week.

Hope it helps

It really helps to find an activity they LOVE.... it's hard at first to squeeze it in, but the rewards are huge. And it make take some time to figure out what they're passionate about, but when they're in a group of kids with similar interests and abilities doing something significant besides just playing around, it really creates a strong bond. When my twin girls were about your son's age it seemed like all they did was HOMEWORK. They're good students and work hard, but it was a drag. They had some school friends and some neighbor friends, but their closest friends were always geographically inconvenient. We started with gymnastics, it was ok, but they lost interest and didn't really have any natural ability. We started doing girl scouts in the first grade which they enjoyed, but as a parent I was constantly frustrated by our leader and the way she mismanaged the troop (as far as the kids were concerned it was all great). After several years of scouts the girls joined a local swim team. At first I just wanted them to have a physical outlet. Inertia is hard to overcome, a kid on the couch will tend to stay on the couch... Anyway, swimming turned out to be IT. They've been doing it for almost 4 years now and we were at a swim meet yesterday and they were getting Junior Olympic qualifying times.... They have so much pride in what they've accomplished, and have such good camaraderie with their team mates and coaches. Don't get me wrong... it's work and commitment from me as a parent, but they have just blossomed and made so many good friends with like-minded kids from good families... Another big thing has been they took an interest in music. It wasn't such a big deal in elementary school, but in middle school they've really begun to bond with their "band geek" friends. At Christmas we took them instrumental caroling and the girls performed for shut-ins, grandparents, neighbors... we just drove them all over town in a couple of vans... 6 instruments and tons of holiday cheer! They even went to an old folks home and played a bunch of songs, including solos. My girls are a little on the shy side, but their ability, along with the support of their friends has given them such confidence! Last but not least, they got plugged into a church youth group that they really love. The church we normally attend is HUGE and they never really felt connected there, but they started going to a mid-week youth program at a friends church that was smaller, more intimate and they have made tons of friends that I know will last.

I hope you find somewhere your kids can get plugged in and feel fulfilled!!! Best of luck to you!

Maybe they are going to the wrong school? You didn't say anything about
this.

I think your children are still young enough where you do need to initiate for them...especially in 2nd grade. In 4th grade it seems like they begin making "take home friends..." but it's still young.

When my son was in 6th grade we moved to a new neighborhood - so new school, his elementary friends had scattered etc. It didn't really hit home until he was in 7th grade but he really didn't have any friends that he saw outside of school. He knew a few boys at school that he had classes with that he liked but didn't know how to go about "friending" them. So, I had a Halloween party - he invited about 6 boys over, I filled them up with junk food and let them cover the yard in silly string.

That opened the door for reciprocal invitations. Then I had a Thanksgiving dinner for them over the holiday break. Again reinforcing the out of school friendship. It was a little easier for him to break the school friend only stigma as they all have mobile phones and Facebook pages (yikes). Some of them also attended Boys & Girls Clubs with him so he was able to extend the friendships in that way also.

But it does take time. When he was in Elementary it was really the Moms that arranged the out of school activities. Mostly, I met a few Moms that I clicked with and since we wanted to hang out together we dragged our kids along...it just worked out that the kids got along famously.

I would not worry overly much since they are only in 2nd and 4th. These things also progress naturally as children get older. Do take all the other Moms great ideas on this post and try some out. In the end your children will make out of school friends and you will also. Its a win-win.

Enroll them in sports, theater, clubs, etc.

My mom used to pick us up from school and take us to the library or park with a little picnic. We got fresh air and ran around and then did homework outside or in the library. Or she made us go play outside for a bit before homework. No tv, computer or video games! As for making friends you have to teach your kids that it takes effort to cultivate friendships. Make playdates and encourage them to participate in some extra curricular activity that they love. Anything - music, art, sports, volunteering at an animal shelter. Youth groups are a great way to make friends. Find a good one at a local church even if you don't attend there.

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