Friday, July 10, 2009

I've got the boredom blues. And I'm not even the one that's bored.

This post was written in June, but for some reason I forgot to publish it.
We've had one day of summer vacation so far.
Let me share with you what the kids got to do:

1-Spend an hour at the Public Library. Check out 16 books and 4 movies.
Had a textbook case of FUN!

2-Go to swimming lessons.
Had a soakin' GOOD TIME.

3-Eat lunch from Wendy's Value Menu
(in their world, so much better than every-day PB & Js).

4-Go to the Dollar Store, giggling up and down the aisles.
Mom bought a hula hoop.
The joy went round & round.

5-Go Home & Rest. A couple hours later...
6-Invite friends over to play for an hour until dinner time.
Socializing with people "cooler" than Mom is AWESOME!
7-Plans are made to watch one of the library movies together after dinner.

The kids love movie nights!

Not a bad day for a kid, right?

And yet! As I made dinner (spaghetti & meatballs: one of their favorites, by the way), both of my children approach me with my LEAST FAVORITE 6-WORD COMBINATION ON THE PLANET: "We're bored. What can we do?"

Seriously? You're seriously asking? After an action-packed day like today, you are actually ASKING me to provide yet another activity for you? Do you realize how close you are to losing years off your lives right now?

Lately Brett and I have been very sensitive (annoyed) with the fact that our children expect (yes, EXPECT) us to entertain them every hour, every minute of the day. We've found ourselves sounding much like those who've come before us with responses such as, "When I was a kid we didn't always have somewhere to go or something to do. We had to use our imagination. We played outside. We read books. We drew pictures. We..." (I'm positive if our parents are reading this, they'd say our kids are mini-me's of how we used to be, but that's a different post all together.) I understand that at some point children crave structured activity or crafts or whatever. But why do they feel it is MY responsibility to provide something like that for them ALL. DAY. LONG?

Anyway, like every summer, I've tried to come up with yet another idea that my kids can turn to before they turn to me. This year (let's hope it's more successful than last year's boredom bags, which worked for about a week before they lost their novelty), I've made a BOREDOM BOX. Inside are strips of paper with ideas of things to do. They're color-coded, so depending on the current circumstances (how much time we've got, how busy I am doing other things, etc.) the kids know which kind of activity to pursue. If I have time to help organize or supervise an activity, I'll instruct the kids to choose an ORANGE slip. If I'm preoccupied and cannot help, they'll need to draw a BLUE paper. If we know we're going to the library (we usually go every Monday), they can pick a yellow paper, which will give them a topic on which we can base our library selection to learn about something in particular. I tried to make a shopping list of all the supplies we'd need for them to do any of the BLUE activities, so things are ready to go. I have a lot of the ORANGE stuff on hand, too, but some of the ORANGE activities are actually outings we can plan on doing sometime that day. As they choose activities, those slips will be put in a separate place so they are not repeated any time soon.

Here's the list of ORANGE (supervised) activities:

Go to the Library and find books about one of the yellow cards
Explore the bike path & look for unique plants or rocks
Go for a bike ride
Go to the Children’s Museum
Check the Home Depot children’s class schedule.
Check the Michaels Craft Class schedule.
Go to the Children's Floor of the Church History Museum.
Check the Dollar Movie schedule
Go to the Rec Center & Swim
Play with Play Doh
Make cookies & take them to someone
Visit Grandma B.
Make sock puppets. Put on a puppet show.
Go to the Library and rent a movie
Build dirt castles outside with Tupperware containers
Dig for worms
Do sidewalk chalk out front
Look for bugs in the back yard and draw pictures of them.
Find rocks and paint them.
Hang a sheet on the swingset and paint it.
Fly kites
Throw a Frisbee @ the Foxboro Park
Set up the tent in the back yard and pretend you’re camping
When Carson is asleep, make seashell critters. (see instructions)
When Carson is asleep, make a Sandwich Box Monster. (see instructions)
When Carson is asleep, make Marbled Clay Beads (see instructions)
When Carson is asleep, make Juicebox Dolls (see instructions)
When Carson is asleep, make pet rocks (see instructions)
When Carson is asleep, glue pasta to cardstock paper to make a pretty picture.
Help Mom wash the car.

Here's the BLUE (independent) activities:
Make a poster about farms and farm animals. Make plans to visit Wheeler farm later in the week.
Fill a balloon with air. Don’t let it touch the carpet!
Play charades. Guess animals or movies.
Play freeze tag.
Play pirates or George of the Jungle on the swing set.
Play a board game.
Do a big puzzle together.
Write a story about one of your summer vacations this year. Wyatt, you can tell your story to Halle and she will write it.
Plan an international dinner that you can have later this week. Make flags and decorations from that country.
Using construction paper, make the American flag with the stripes and stars.
Do a scavenger hunt inside (see the list Mom’s already made for you)
Run through the sprinklers
Play with water guns & sponges
Throw a Frisbee in the backyard
Blow bubbles
Lay on the grass and look at the clouds—what do they look like?
Make your own paper dolls.
Play with the Boredom Bags
Lay a blanket on the lawn and read books outside with a snack
Write a song by writing a poem and then add music from the piano
Play bowling by using a small ball and knocking over objects, such as Barbies, empty cups, stuffed animals, toy food, etc.
Plan a Mini-Olympics that you can do later in the week with friends: Make an obstacle course outside with stuff like hula hoops, orange cones, jumprope. Have jumping contests, wheelbarrow races, water balloon toss, pillowcase races, crawl under chairs, walk with basketball between your legs around a windy hose, .
Capture bugs.
Cut pictures from magazines and glue them on poster board.
Do silly jumps outside.
Play Throw The Dice.
Have pillowcase races on the lawn.
Use construction paper to color and cut out pictures that describe a book you like.
“Paint” the back patio with WATER and watch it evaporate
Make a poster about fruits and vegetables. Make plans to go to a Farmer’s Market later this week.
Play Simon Says.
Play Red Light-Green Light.
Invite some friends over and play Red Rover.
Practice a play or part of a your favorite movie. When you’re ready & Mom’s not busy, Mom will record you on the video camera.
Play Hide & Seek.
Make a Menu for Dinner. We’ll pretend we’re a restaurant when Daddy gets home.
Play Duck-Duck-Goose
Color a picture and glue it onto cardstock. Now cut it into large pieces to make a puzzle.
Play soccer
Play Store
Play Barbies
Play School Bus or Train with the kitchen chairs
Make a City with blocks
Pretend you are a photographer
Read scriptures or act out a scripture story
Use construction paper to make a garden
Write in your journal
Do the Exercise Video
Write a letter to Uncle Tanner

I'm up for any ideas to add to my list (inexpensive and simple are more warmly received) as well as any suggestions you have to help keep the boredom blues away...'COMMENT' away, people...I need your help!
Hope Sig1


Heather said...

I LOVE all of these ideas! You are so amazing to come up with all of that. What a great mom!!!

Heather said...

Me again. So I thought of one we do around here. Make a list of chores that earn money. Let them do chores and then they get to go to the Dollar Store and buy something.

Nickole -n- Kye said...

You always have been so diligent to do things like this for your kids. I remember in AZ you had a special place under the stairs for when you were potty training Halle. I'd love to be more like you with this when Aiden is older. You are an AWESOME mom!!! While on the subject, I need help with FHE ideas for my family... I want to be better at it. You're good at this kind of thing, if you have any ideas I'd appreciate it! Thanks!

Brian & Heidi Haas said...

You are so creative, I love it! Thanks for sharing, you are such a great mom!

Oh and I read the temper tantrum little guy is part of that posse. It's such an adventure, lol! :)

Tif said...

Holy cow! You are awesome! I don't think I could come up with that many ideas if I tried. You make me look boring!

We have a daily schedule/routine. My kids all know it and know what to expect. That helps some so that they know what to do next once they finish something.

We did face the situation at first that when it came time for "free playtime." They stood there wanting to know from me what they should do. I renamed it "imagination time" and told them that during that time of the day it was their responsibility, not mine, to come up with something to do and that it was completely up to them, not me. That seems to have helped. They've had some good ideas and I like that they have to be creative and "own" it.

Jen said...

Coffee filter butterflies: (Best if done outside or on newspaper or something that cleans up easily) Buy coffee filters--a big pack is not expensive--then the kids get them wet (not like dripping, just damp all the way through) and pain them with watercolors. The colors spread and blend into each other and they are beautiful! Once they dry, they can fold them like a fan, put two together (one fan on top of another) and secure them with a pipe cleaner. Then you spread the "wings" out to make two on each side and you can twist the pipe cleaners into antennae. You can glue them onto clothespins or magnets or leave them as they are and do all kinds of things with them--the brighter the better! And kids LOVE to make these. You could do it with them once, then they could probably do it on their own once they know how. :)

Paper bag skits: Put several random items in a paper bag, and give them directions that they have to make up a play using all the things in the bag/about all the things in the bag/etc. You could make bags ahead of time and they could do it on their own easily.

You can easily find recipes online to make fudge in a bag (you put all the recipes in a heavy duty ziplock (or three) and let the kids play catch/etc. with it until it's all mixed together, then they can eat it.

You can also find recipes to make ice cream in a can (kids LOVE this). You put all the ingredients in a heavy duty ziplock (and you definitely want to triple bag this), then put it inside a coffee can/plastic peanut butter jar/any sort of sturdy can/jar with a lid that won't come off easily, fill the can/plastic jar up with rock salt and ice, and let them kick it around the backyard for awhile. After they've kicked it around for a half hour or so, they'll have ice cream!

I worked at summer camps for like a million summers...I have loads of things like this. Let me know if you need some more ideas. :)

The Jacksons said...

My kids have definitely been the same way! (Allie more than Jonathan, in that she seems to NEED someone to always entertain her). I had been mentioning this to Dave's Great Aunt and Uncle (who are in their 70's and 80's), and they made a VERY good point! His uncle Sam made the comment that when he once was a child, he had made the comment that he was "bored", and he has been working ever since! So, when one of their grandchildren start complaining that they are bored, they find something for them to do. It can be something simple as collecting the small trashes out of the bathrooms, dusting, etc. We have actually started doing this with the kids (at ages 5 1/2 and almost 7), and they actually enjoy it! Allie is now in charge of rinsing the dishes and putting them in the dishwasher. Jonathan collects the trashes and runs the vacuum. They don't seem them so much as "chores" or something to keep them from being bored as much as they are things they can do to help Mommy! =)

"The democracy will cease to exist when you TAKE AWAY from those who are willing to work AND GIVE to those who would not."

Thomas Jefferson