One strategy to deal with the wail, "I am sooo bored!"

Every parent knows the tone of voice that goes along with that refrain.

Blog. Bored boy. 7.14It's about as thrilling as fingernails dragging across a blackboard. What to do?

Our quartet often gave moving performances that caused me either to stifle my laughter or--after awhile--wish for a quickie way to quiet the mob.

I had none, so out of desperation more than anything, I came up with a standard reply. "You're bored? Oh, that's too bad. Here's what you'll need to clean the bathroom sink(s.) Go make it shine!"

Or, "Here, this broom should be the right size for you to use as you sweep the porch and sidewalks."

Or, "I just heard the clothes dryer signal that the towels are dry. Please take the towels out of the dryer and fold them."

You get the idea. After a day or two of such suggestions nobody complained of being bored. 

I also discovered it boosts incentive to hold out the carrot of a reward when the chores are done. A trip to the park or ice cream treats can prove magical. Or try a family trip to your public library because kids still love being able to choose "their" books or whatever to bring home with them. 

Be sure they see you reading, too. Often.  

Creativity shines with enough free time

At our house we went for creativity more than toys and gadgets, so summer became a time when dreaming up concepts boomed. We always kept raw materials on hand like cardboard boxes of all sizes, assorted papers, crayons, colored pencils, markers, scraps of fabric, Mod Podge, glue, etc.

Trips to craft and discount stores and also yard sales yielded interesting cords and ribbon, pretty gift papers, paints, glitter, wooden boxes and frames, etc. 

Was it messy? Sure. After the first time I proclaimed that our kingdom had a new never-break-it rule. From then on NO doing anything until old newspapers or an old plastic tablecloth or something like that had been put down on the work surface. (Was I ready to help with this? You betcha.)

All this costs almost nothing, but it's a great way for kids to experiment and have fun together.  

Why bother, when cell phones and computers can keep kids occupied for hours?

Technology may be everywhere, but human nature--and kid nature--hasn't changed that much.

Creating still brings more satisfaction than consuming an endless stream of "stuff" on screens, some of it questionable. Besides, people still matter more than things. Don't your favorite family memories feature times when you did nothing much and just enjoyed being together?

This requires free time, which may require planning.

Scheduling each child for some activity every minute of every day eats up free time. Too much time watching TV, being on computers and cell phones does the same. We all need time to "just be."

That's why limiting time on phones and computers and enforcing time limits are important.  (Yes, this inconveniences Mom and Dad, too, because as you no doubt discovered early on, we have to live what we preach or nobody pays attention to our words.)

Note: This will not earn you the title of "Miss Popularity."

Remember who you are

God gave you these children and you are in charge.

Yes, it's a lot of responsibility, but it's also a privilege. You're helping shape the way these young human beings develop and grow.

Even if each child is a bona fide genius, you know better than they what counts most in getting them ready for life as well-rounded individuals. 

As radical as it sounds in our times, research has shown that sometimes sports and various "enrichment" activities are not what each child in your family--or you, for that matter--needs most. They've been created one of a kind, remember?

Give each family member--and yourself--a gift. Look for ways to nurture their individual talents and skills. 

Maybe what each family member needs most is some unprogrammed time to let down. At any age, reading a book or lying under a tree just for the sake of looking up at the sky is not "wasted time."

I promise you the world will not stop.

Being unscheduled is not the same as being bored

Summer offers a defined opportunity to try new things. Later you can decide what comes next. Or doesn't. Think of it as time to refuel and rediscover.

Both your children and you may be surprised to find that in the midst of "nothing happening," a lot of personal growth occurred--and none of you were bored.

For now, go with the rhythm of your days. Be quiet and rest. For right now, just be.

Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind.  Ecclesiastes 4:6  ESV

In quietness and in trust shall be your strength.   Isaiah 30:15  ESV 

Learning, too,


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