Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Keeping Kids Entertained

I warned my daughters that the particular McDonald's where we were stopping did NOT have a playplace. "Why not?" my 3 year old wondered. They began listing all the restaurants we frequent which do offer playgrounds. I informed them that when I was growing up, NO restaurants had playgrounds for kids. "What did you do, Mommy?" "Well, we just ate," I told them.

Boy, do we entertain kids these days!!! It isn't just restaurants. There is almost nothing we do where the children's "needs" have not been provided for in the area of entertainment. Doctor's office...Lego table and movie. Movie store...giant hopscotch on floor. Grocery cart shaped like a car. Car dealership...playroom. Insurance office...lollipops and balloons. Church...well we have that covered too.

I cannot think of very many places we go where my children are expected to just sit and wait. And that is a great character building exercise! Just sitting on hard plastic chairs with mommy and being a little bit bored lets them know that the particular errand we are on is not about them. There is no fit being pitched when it is time to leave, as if the entire reason we are there is so they can play with the germy toys that are provided. It's obvious that we are leaving because mommy is finished with her business.

Children cannot even get a haircut these days with out mass entertainment being provided. Have you seen the hair cut place at Toys R Us? Come to think of it, the toy store is already all about kids, but we also must provide a play place there???

No wonder children are not begging to go to church. I know folks who have left their home church because "the kids don't want to come." They instead sought out a church with a dynamic (read: entertaining) children's ministry or youth program. Now, I am not blaming these parents. Good for them for being willing to do what it takes to keep their children in church. BUT...what happens when the puppet show is over, the DVD curriculum is unplugged, the play structure dismantled, and the games, prizes, and incentives are gone? Do the children have a faith that is all their own? Or will they turn and find something that is more entertaining?

I want to protect my children from all this. I want them to know boredom. I want them to have to wait with no toys in hand. I want them to talk with mom and dad while they wait for the food instead of skipping over to the sandbox. Why? Well, it's good for them. And maybe church won't have to suffer in the comparison. Or kill itself trying to keep their attention.


  1. Very interesting commentary on this. I, too, allow boredom here & there for the benefit of my kids. It doesn't hurt them, really it doesn't. It does take practice, however, & of course the best time to begin this is when they are little.

    I remember one time when we were coming back home from someplace out-of-town,& we stopped at a restaurant for lunch. I was pregnant w/ our third child,& our other two were ages 4 & 2. At the end of the meal, our waitress approached our table one more time, & gave us a note written by a couple sitting @ another table across the dining room. I blushed when I read their wonderful, complimentary words of our family: the children sat so nicely, they ate w/ utensils, no getting down from & up again to their chairs or running around & so forth.

    I hadn't thought that we were doing anything unusual, as the kids' behavior was merely what was expected of them at mealtimes. But this couple's words warmed my heart, & obviously, I've not forgotten them.

    It is one of the best kinds of courtesy we who have young ones can show others around us: to train our children to know how to sit still when it's necessary. Life is so full of unexpected moments when this might be required,of both child & adult, & it's truly a kindness to others not to burden them w/ annoying behavior.

  2. We have 5 kids (I know. What were we thinking?) so we're always looking for ways to keep them entertained when we go out. We download a lot of audiobooks. There's plenty of sites where you can get them, but we use this site a lot because it's free and all the stories are original. Here's the link if anyone is interested.


I don't get to talk to a lot of actual grown-ups during the day, so your comments make me really happy! :)