Mommy, I'm Bored!
With summer vacation upon me, I suddenly realized that three months is a long time! While my daughter plays very well with her toys and keeps herself occupied easily, there will still be many times when she declares that she is bored this summer. I wondered how I would keep this child busy even though there are plenty of toys in the house that she hasn't even played with in months!
I had seen ideas on the internet suggesting that you fill a jar with creative ideas written on slips of paper and, when your children announce their boredom, they are instructed to pick a slip of paper from the jar. This sounded like a fun idea so I began researching ideas for Boredom Jars on Pinterest, but they all involved a lot of time or materials and I didn't want my invest to be too large. The mason jar covered in lovely scrapbooked label and filled with tongue depressors festooned with colorful, custom-printed ideas, while cute, sounded like way more work than I wanted to do. So, for my jar, I went the ultra simple route. I cleaned out a mayonnaise jar and wrapped it with old yarn. Now, it looks pretty but took very little effort and time.
Once my jar was decorated, I set rules for the boredom jar. First, if you say you are bored, you must pick from the jar. Second, if you pick from the jar, you must complete the activity chosen and clean it up before moving on to something else. Now, I needed ideas to put inside the jar, which was the hardest part of this whole project. I started by wandering through the house, opening drawers and cabinets, and made a list of all the toys that my daughter still likes but, for various reasons, hasn't played with in a while. During the school year, there just isn't time to get into every craft project or Lego set she receives for birthdays and Christmas. Then, I began to jot down ideas for things that she could do with little or no help from me. If I had the rule that she must complete the activity right then, I could not pick activities that might require me to stop everything to help her whenever she picked an activity from the jar. For example, she can certainly mop the kitchen floor with the right materials, but if she chooses this activity while I am making dinner, it won't work. In addition, if she chooses an activity that takes too much of my help at this time, I won't be able to make dinner. After a while, I had a list that combined simple activities we already have on hand as well as some creative ideas that she may not have done before. I printed the list out and cut it into strips. Then I folded each one and put it in my jar. Voila! Very easy jar to keep my daughter busy this summer!
- Go through all of your books. If a book is too young for you now, put it aside for your younger sibling or for donation.
- Go through your toys. For every toy you set aside to donate, Mommy will give you a quarter. (I know my child and don't think she will come up with a big pile. If you think your child will count every Polly Pocket as one toy or give you a large bin of matchbox cars, maybe you should make it a penny)
- Go through all of your costumes and remove any that don't fit anymore.
- Go through your art materials. If a marker doesn't work, throw it away. Recycle old coloring books.
- Clean and organize your doll area.
- Using your cleaning set (as seen in Tips for Cleaning with Kids), use your magic eraser and clean the white woodwork downstairs.
- Use the Swiffer duster to dust the stairs and downstairs surfaces. Remove everything from the tables, dust the frames, dust the table, and return everything to its place.
- Write a letter to someone.
- Write a story. Make illustrations for each page.
- Take your brother outside, weather permitting, and blow bubbles with him.
- Play on the swingset.
- Go through a cookbook and choose something you would like to make. Write down what ingredients we need to get from the store.
- Using a toothbrush and toothpaste, polish some silver. (I keep a travel size tube of paste, not gel, for this purpose. I provide a dry cloth for polishing.)
- Read a chapter book.
- Using fuse beads, make a creation for everyone in the family.
- Make a bead bracelet or necklace for a family member or friend who either doesn't have kids or doesn't have a daughter.
- Use a camera and take some pictures - inside and outside.
- Ride your scooter or your bike.
- Build something new with Legos.
- Play with your Nintendo DS. (My daughter rarely uses hers, so this is reasonable for me to have on my list. If your child overuses video games, you don't need to have this on your list.)
- Call a friend and see if they can play.
- Do a jigsaw puzzle of 100 pieces.
- Go for a walk.
Ellen Deebel has a BS in Early Childhood Education from Bucknell University and over 15 years of experience in the field, both as a teacher and administrator. She focuses her time now as a mom to her two young children, alternately packing lunches and chauferring them to various activities.