Summer is in full sway. Kids are out of school and the novelty of that fact is starting to wear off. Some of you may already be well acquainted with the phrase, “I’m bored!” You know how it goes. The kids follow you around the house saying things like, “There’s nothing to do. I’m hungry. I’m bored. What are we supposed to do Mom?”
It seems like the go-to activity for boredom these days always includes some form of screen. Whether it’s a phone, TV, tablet, computer or gaming system, so many kids can’t seem to find anything to do without some tech device. Boredom is nothing new. It’s been around for a long time but we seem to have a much lower tolerance for it and a lower ability to overcome it these days. The thing about using tech as a default for boredom is that it actually increases boredom in the long run. It can actually help kids to reduce feelings of boredom to kill your TV and other tech devices. But, what do they do instead. Even kids that aren’t tech junkies bombard us with complaints of boredom at times. What do we do? How do we help them cope or cure that boredom?
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Let them be bored:
The first suggestion is one that none of us like very much because when we let them be bored, we know that we might have to deal with the incessant complains and hovering of kids that are less that blissfully happy. This understanding that it’s okay for our kids to be bored is the foundation for helping them truly overcome boredom and be more creative with their time and energy.
10 Ways to cure boredom
1. Write a summer bucket list: I saw this idea recently on multiple family and mommy blogs. You can view some of the wonderful bucket lists that are out there on our summer bucket list Pinterest board. Create a bucket list of items or activities that your child could do on their own or things you could do with them. Some items may be more complicated than others. Make sure part of the list contains simple go-to activities that can be done without a lot of preparation or money. Have your child help identify their favorite activities. When you sit down with them to write the list, talk to them about how they get to choose whether they will be bored or not. Emphasize how many wonderful things there are to do with their time and thank them for contributing so much to the list. Make a plan that if they come to you and say, “I’m bored” that you will refer them back to the list and they can pick something off the list. You can use the following nine ideas to build an amazing list that will chase away the boredom.
2. Work: When you make your bucket list, you can also make a list of work around the house that needs to get done. These should be work items that they are capable of doing. You can let your child know that if they are not able to find an activity on their own or from the recently created summer bucket list, that you will be happy to assign them a job from your summer work list. If they want to volunteer to do one of the listed jobs when bored, they are welcome to do that as well.
3. Create: Build something or make something. Put together a “workshop” or art corner in the garage or outside. Challenge them to make something out of wood or Legos or clay. It doesn’t matter what the medium is. Just invite them to create something. Help them build a fort or make a new invention. Encourage them to tinker and discover.
4. Physical Play: The greatest toy that our children and all of us have is our own body. We can run, jump, climb, crawl and roll. When kids are used to sitting around, watching TV or playing video games, the initial push to use their bodies for play can be tough, but once they start to play, the endorphins kick in and they start to laugh and enjoy themselves. Boredom goes out the window. Turn every form of movement into a game by simply adding a timing element to it. Direct them to objects they could use to build an obstacle course.
5. Serve: Do something nice for someone else. This could include baking cookies for someone, going to visit a neighbor or weeding their flower beds. It could mean writing a letter to a soldier or their grandpa or grandma. It could mean cleaning their brother’s room or taking the garbage out. Help them think of ways that they can help others.
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6. Read: Books provide new worlds and adventures, even when the weather is bad. No matter the age of your children, books can provide entertainment and can give them ideas for fun and adventures they could do in real life as well.
7. Imagine: Ask them the question, “What would you want to do if you could do anything you want?” Then, follow their answer up with, “Then go do it!” Kid’s imagination is a powerful thing. The books they read can sometimes be a jumping off point to help them think of new ideas and adventures, but they can also create hours of play and excitement by simply bringing their thoughts to life. If they want to go scuba diving, find a makeshift mask and an “air tank” and send them off to find and photograph the biggest shark they can find. There is no limit to imaginative play!
8. Write: Many people think that written letters are obsolete because of all of our other forms of communication, but there is still something exciting about getting a letter in the mail, not just bills but a real letter. Get your kids connected with a pen pal in another state or country. Encourage them to write stories or just journal something positive from their day.
9. Get wet: Its summer. When it gets hot, adding water to just about anything makes it just a little bit better. I remember putting a sprinkler under the trampoline or just adding a wading pool to our obstacle course made it so much more fun. Water balloons, squirt guns, and sprinklers are several boredom killers.
10. Get dirty: Sometimes getting dirty goes right along with getting wet. If you can somehow connect water and dirt, you not only get mud but you get happy kids. We have a “dirt pile” in our back yard that is nothing more than a huge mound of dirt, but my kids can spend hours out there on the dirt pile entertaining themselves and each other.
Our world today moves extremely fast. Our cars are fast. Our communication is fast. Our entertainment is fast. The expectation that everything moves so quickly and keeps us so busy can make boredom an even stronger emotion. However, boredom is not bad. It can motivate us to create, imagine and do more than we otherwise would. We can help our children to feel boredom and to respond productively to it by having plans and activities that are good and wholesome, that teach skills and improve mood. Don’t let you and your family fall victim to summer boredom. Make your list and cure boredom today!
Question: What are you and your child’s top 5 or 10 items on your summer bucket list?
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