Wednesday 3 November 2010

Mummy I’m Bored!

Reading through some other blogs – written by younger friends, who are still enjoying having their children living at home, I suddenly remembered the Family Fun Tin. So I thought I’d blog about it. It was one of my Better Bits Of Parenting, and I thought it was worth passing on the idea…

toffee tin

We made this when we lived in Orpington, so Liz must have been about 3½. It was just an old tin, quite small, with a well fitting lid – and one rainy afternoon we sat together with two sheets of sugar paper. One was purple [rainy weather] and one was green [sunny weather] I suspect the colours were simply the paper I had to hand!



I divided the sheets into 24 rectangles, and in each we wrote an activity. I cannot remember all of them now but here are some of the ideas

RAINY DAY – make a birthday card, bake a cake, build a lego house, ice some biscuits, sew a dress for a doll, tell a Bible story with puppets, write a letter to Grandad, polish the cutlery, have a ‘hairdressing’ session, potato printing, plan a special meal for Daddy, make and sculpt some playdough, read some poems, the Cloud Game***, sort out some buttons and make them into a picture, put on macs and wellies and go outside puddle jumping…


SUNNY DAY – have a circus in the garden, wax ‘rubbings’ on outside textures like concrete/fences/manhole covers etc, plant some seeds, have a picnic for the dolls, go for a Penny Walk**, use the dolls to act out a fairy story in the garden, take the baby bath outside and wash lots of toys, play Poohsticks in the stream, pick lots of different shaped leaves and bring them home to press, concoct an ice cream sundae, pick some flowers to press or arrange in a posy,  go and pick blackberries, make an obstacle course on the lawn…

dolls picnic

All the ideas were fairly simple, and inexpensive [we really had no money!] Then,if ever the children had those days when they said “We’re bored!” then I could say “Let’s get the Family Fun Tin” We would pull out a card [green or purple depending on the weather] and if it was one we hadn’t seen before, WHATEVER it said, we would do the action and write the date on the back for future reference.

Some ideas got on to green and purple cards [have a sing song, play a board game] because they could be done indoors or outside. Some activities required less adult supervision than others. But they were all fun to do.

***The Cloud Game is where you look at an interestingly shaped cloud and say “that looks like a dog/a fairy castle/Uncle Leslie’s Nose” and the other person says “oh no it’s an elephant/motorbike/pretzel”penny

**A Penny Walk is where you walk up the road and at every junction, toss a coin – ‘heads’ turn right, ‘tails’ turn left. [If it is a crossroads, you toss once and ‘heads’ means straight on, ‘tails’ means toss again for Left or Right] I’m not sure how old Liz and Steph were by the time they worked out that I was monitoring the route really carefully, and after 30 minutes or so, would say “We should be going home now” and stopped the coin-tossing so we could go home in a more direct route!

We had the tin for years literally, and it took quite a while for us to work through all the cards and start on repeats. And the great thing was that having once done one of the activities and enjoyed it, the girls would then be able to suggest activities without resorting to The Tin.

Probably some enterprising entrepreneur could produce these tins and sell them to harassed mothers – but constructing our own was an afternoon well spent – I can recommend it. Or maybe cash-strapped Mums could make them as Christmas gifts for their equally stressed friends at the school gate!


  1. I think you should patent thatidea, it's such a good one!

  2. What a great idea - wish I'd thought of that - maybe someday if we have grandchildren I can pass this on to our kids! Blessings, Peg

  3. You told me about this tin a while ago and i am rapt to read all about it! We will definitely be following in your penny footsteps! And I very much appreciate the amount of money not involved! Also very excited by the gift idea!

  4. I might make myself a new one (although I'd probably have to replace washing toys with washing bed linen now!)

  5. That is such a wonderful idea - such interesting things to do and I might even try the penny walk myself to see where it takes me!

  6. I think you're fab :)
    I hope your girlies realise what a resourceful woman you are (I'm sure they do!!)

  7. This is a brilliant idea! thank you for sharing. Always good to have another free and fun thing. Love the sound of the penny game.

    Hope you are well!

    Anna x

  8. Hi Angela, re the chrismas stockings , the backs are holly fabric , The fronts are a pre printed panel I bought at the malvern quilt show---cottonreel

  9. I love your tin! I wish I'd thought to do something like it when my boys were younger. Well, shoot, I could just do an older version, couldn't I? Though I suppose it would be too tempting to fill it with chores ...


  10. Wonderful idea! I'm going to pass this on to my DIL for future reference. :-)
    Anne x


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