I counted down for this. I crossed off days on my calendar. I cursed Mother Nature every single time she allowed the temperatures to drop beneath seventy degrees, forever prolonging what could only be described as the longest Winter ever. She dragged her feet, toying with me, giving us a teaser of what *might* be to come if ever we could warm up and stay there….only to feel the plummet of a twenty degree drop in 24 hours.
And yet, somehow, Summer finally arrived.
The warm weather, the BBQ’s, the time at the pool, the freedom that comes with longer days and for our small people – no school.
This is the beautiful, peaceful period of time when moms, dads and kids everywhere are no longer required to stick to the strict schedule that school requires. No lunches to be made and packed, no Science Fair projects to create, no homework to complete. I remember this season well and I know my children, and yours, have likely been looking forward to it for quite some time.
Our days are packed with camps and laughter, sports, time with friends and vacation.
Also tucked within our days? The phrase I dislike most on the planet, “Mom….I’m BORED!”. It is only now that I am a parent that I can fully comprehend the way that grates on the nerves and causes frustration for any mother or father. How can you be BORED when surrounded by toys, games, electronics and the opportunity to run, jump and play? Rather than fight this battle one day at a time, we have instituted a BOREDOM policy.
I think it just might be helpful to you as well.
My small people are only allowed to come to me AFTER they have explored the options laid out below. At eight and ten years of age, I’m confident they can begin to take ownership for their time AND allow me to keep what is left of my sanity.
Be creative – As video games, iPods and the computers permeate our lives, it may seem like an easy fix to allow your child to park themselves on the couch (or worse, in their room with the door closed) and drain the hours of their Summer days online. In our home, this is not an option. This directive: Be Creative – requires thinking. Come up with your own game, draw, paint, whip out karaoke and sing a song, knock on a friend’s door, teach a friend how to ride their bike or create a scavenger hunt. This may initially take some prompting as it seems our kids are rarely prompted to use their imagination, but it is so worth it.
Offer to help around the house – Yes, it is true….this option is blatantly self-serving, BUT it teaches your kids a few valuable lessons: 1) their help is valued, 2) it enables them to be an active part of the home and household, and 3) kids who grow up knowing how to empty the dishwasher, sort laundry and clean their rooms rather than having the expectation of being waited on, will make strong, independent and responsible young adults. Give them a list of options that might be helpful: walk the dog, set the dinner table, water the plants, tend the garden or clean their closets. Fact: this may elicit your first experience with eye-rolling, but it is a good time to explain how their help is GOOD for the family.
Read – Parked right in the middle of their BORED directive, reading is hardly the ‘3rd best’ option. It happens to be one of my favorites. I have one child who LOVES to read, barreling her way through a 300-page book in two days, and the other who needs to constantly be reminded of the value of reading. I’m hoping this Summer is his tipping point. Consider signing your children up for a Summer Reading Program through your local library. The incentives may be enough to have them seeking a few authors (and characters) to love.
Enjoy the outdoors – When I was a child, it was common to be directed outside during the Summer. Do the same in your home: challenge the neighborhood kids to a kickball game, grab a ball and bat, create a chalk drawing, start a Lemonade Stand, search for four-leaf clovers, or throw on your bathing suits, whip out the hose and cool off. The options are endless.
Do something special for someone else – It is never too early to encourage a giving nature in your children. Offer to play with the younger kids in the neighborhood (giving the Mom or Dad a break), make a card for someone you love, water your neighbor’s plants, or simply go through your own toys to see what you might donate.
Good luck combating Summer boredom and enjoy the beautiful, warmth of the season. Please do share any secrets you might have for keeping kids busy and happy.