5 steps to BUSTING the fear of BOREDOM
“MOM! I’M BOOOOOORED!”
Summer is around the corner and your kids (and mine) are about to say this three-word phrase multiple times daily.
Don’t be afraid. And DON’T feel like your child’s BOREDOM is YOUR responsibility to solve.
AAAAAaaaand Nope. I’m not going to give you the top 10 boredom busters for your kids this summer.
I’m not going to make a calendar of things you can do.
I’m not going to link you to events going on around town.
I’m not going to offer to sell you one of my books or songs that promises to help you avoid boredom.
Because guess what??!!! BOREDOM ISN’T A PROBLEM.
Boredom isn’t bad.
It isn’t to be avoided.
Boredom is an OPPORTUNITY! Let’s EMBRACE BOREDOM this summer!
Yay! Three cheers for boredom! Hip hip, hooray!! Hip hip, hooray!! Hip hip, hooray!!
In fact, what if instead of AVOIDING boredom, we helped our kids walk purposefully RIGHT INTO boredom so that they can begin to think with a part of their brain that creates, questions, wonders and investigates. . . AND ENTERTAINS ITSELF??!
It’s TOTALLY 100% true that Netflix, Youtube, video games and Disney Plus keep our kids out of our hair AND keeps their behavior … you know.. sort of comatose. VERY manageable. And there is a time for all things. But entertainment doesn’t enable creativity and increase quality of life. It just passes time without anyone getting poked with scissors or yelling or needing anything. WHICH IS VALUABLE. But not the best long term solution.
So choose your moments. The kids will adjust to your expectations if you are consistent.
Here are 5 BOREDOM BUSTING STEPS that guide me and my kids through summers, evening and weekends so that we live life rather than just WATCH it go by.
1. SCREENS. SET SUPER CLEAR limits around screens. I’m not saying no screens. JUST clear limits so when it’s over, it’s over. Their brains NEED to know when screens, the path of least resistance, is NO LONGER AN OPTION. (Um. And model it too. If I’m on Instagram and Facebook off and on all day… the kids will pick up on that. We gotta BE the change we want to see in the world:)
2. A “LOVE IT” LIST. Have THEM write of list of things THEY love to do and hang it up in their room on a bulletin board or near a calendar. Somewhere that they’ll see it. They can’t get mad when you tell them to do something they love!!!
3. CRAFT SUPPLIES. ALL sorts of RANDOM arts & crafts supplies. Pens. Paper. Paints. Coloring books. Construction paper. Glue. Stickers. Feathers. Crayons. Poster paper. Lego. Play dough. Broken jewelry. Stamps. Paper bags. Not so much kits or projects with instructions. RANDOM supplies. If they aren’t showing interest, bring it out every once in a while and start picking through it. You’ll attract kids for sure!
4. LIBRARY BOOKS. All kinds. Comic. Graphic Novels. Kids books. Joke books. Picture books. National Geographic. Request them online and then pick them up when they’re in. Put them in a basket in a common area. No need to push or demand reading - the books will sell themselves as long as there is a great variety AND you’ve got books according to your kids interests.
5. 15 MINUTES. Be ready to wait out some whining for 15 minutes. When you hear the words “MOM, I’M BORED” . . . set your internal timer for 15 minutes. Get ready to be kind and firm and re-direct them towards their list and let them know you have confidence that they will figure something out. Phrases like, “hmmmm… I wonder what you will do?” Or “you are so good at figuring this out” - something that shows THEIR BOREDOM doesn’t stress you out. You can even be silly with it: “OOOoohhh boredom. This is exciting. Something wonderful is around the corner! I can feel it!”
And HONESTLY . . . THIS IS THE BIGGEST PREDICTOR OF BOREDOM SUCCESS FOR YOU: you can’t get mad when the kids say “I’M BORED!”
BECAUSE boredom isn’t bad.
It’s an important part of brain development and creativity - AND - good news, your child’s boredom is NOT YOUR JOB TO SOLVE. You are simply a facilitator.
Sometimes I will say (as my mom said), “You have15 minutes to find something to do for yourself, OR I’LL GIVE YOU SOMETHING TO DO!” And it’s usually laundry or something. But it’s always said … as a kind threat. I DON’T actually want them to be doing my housework. But some kids need it as a motivator. And 15 minutes later, that kid is ALWAYS busy doing something that the kid LIKES to do. HAPPY HAPPY. WIN WIN.
So when it comes to screens and events, YOU know what you need. But don’t be afraid when your kids say, “MOM, I’M BORED” set your clock for 15 minutes and be firm. Gently redirect. Be curious. And sure, schedule fun events and things you’re going to do, but let the kids have time at home where THEY have to figure it out.
It’s a skill. YOU AND the KIDS will get better at it as you ALL get more practice.
BEFRIEND the great BOREDOM... and watch your summer ... and the rest of your life, transform.