It’s summertime and the living is NOT easy if you are trying to work or get things done. Kids are in your space and bugging you because they’re bored. What to do?

In Mindful Parenting I remind parents that it is not your job to be your child’s entertainer and it’s actually not a problem that they are bored… it’s a GOOD thing! Why? Because boredom is the precursor to creativity.

When your kids are bored you can tell them, “Something to do is right around the corner,” on repeat (thank you, Kim Payne, author of Simplicity Parenting for this advice). Be so boring that they tire of you and go outside.

Getting outside benefits kids' physical health, with exercise and vitamin D production, and it provides natural stress relief among other things.

How to get them outside? Here are 7 ways:

#1 Set Screen-time limits.

Reduce screen time to encourage boredom, which often leads to more creative play outdoors. When there are fewer digital distractions, children are more likely to invent games and explore their surroundings. Every family is different, but it may be a good idea to keep play screen-free until the evening as a daily routine. Put the devices out of sight so they are out of mind.

#2 Invite over friends for outside play.

Add more kids into the mix and see their creativity blossom! Social interaction during outdoor play helps kids learn important social skills such as negotiation, cooperation, and conflict resolution. Keeping age in mind, remember that you are allowed to kindly kick the kids out of the house!

#3 Relocate drawing or playing outside.

You can set up a big roll of paper in the driveway or bring all the dolls outside for a picnic. If you rotate your kid’s toys, go into the toy closet and pull out some favorites outside. Better yet, provide a variety of loose parts like sticks, rocks, sand, and water. These materials can inspire imaginative play and exploration. Natural elements encourage curiosity and sensory exploration.

#4 Make your outdoor space inviting.

Grow a vegetable garden, create a mud-pie kitchen, a water-play area, or set up a simple tent. Remember to keep your outdoor space safe from harmful tools or other hazards (such as chemicals).

#5 Limit adult direction.

Unstructured, free play is the BEST thing for little kids! It promotes independent thinking, creativity, social-emotional learning and so much more. It’s how little ones make sense of their world. Resist the urge to micromanage or direct their play. Let kids decide how they want to spend their time outdoors. This freedom allows them to develop problem-solving skills and creativity.

#6 Lead by example.

Show enthusiasm for outdoor activities yourself. Whether it’s gardening, hiking, or playing sports, showing your own enjoyment of outdoor pursuits encourages your kids to embrace the outdoors themselves.

#7 Invite your neighbors to get onboard.

It takes a village, so start to create that village! Reach out to neighbors and friends for support in keeping screens off until the evening and encouraging outdoor play. Turn your neighborhood into a community that embraces resilient, independent kids. If we all spend a little more time outdoors in our neighborhoods, we’ll make more friends, know more about one another, and create communities that parents and kids feel comfortable in.

For more ideas about how to promote independence in your child, listen to this podcast episode with Lenore Skenazy!