Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Ultimate Kid's Boredom Solution

I know my daughter did NOT say she's bored!
I stood in front of the scratched kitchen sink scrubbing the remains of last night's supper from the rim of a pot. Hot water streamed from the faucet, over my hands, and loosened stubborn bits of spaghetti sauce.

Out of the corner of my eye I watched Ellie meander around the kitchen, pause momentarily to gaze through the window at the deserted bird feeders, and then dejectedly slide her petite 5 year old self onto the kitchen table bench.

Shoulders slumped, she sighed. And then IT happened.

The "B" Word

Out of that sweet little mouth came the "B" word.

Suspending my attack on the crusty pot I half-turned to face my daughter. "Excuse me! WHAT did you say?!" The words flew out of my mouth as my mind raced to form more constructive responses.

"I'm bored," Ellie repeated. "There's nuthin' to do." She pitifully looked up at me, forehead knitted and mouth down-turned .

9 Kid's Boredom Busters

Ben turning cartwheels in the wiggly sprinklers.

Rapidly my mind flicked through the list of "I'm bored" responses gathered in the previous seconds:

  • Stop my own activities and play a board game with her?
  • Pop a DVD in for a little screen time?
  • Boot her into the backyard with sidewalk chalk or bubbles?
  • Send her down the hall to build LEGO ships with her brothers?
  • Pull out the foot tall stack of Melissa and Doug puzzles from her closet?
  • Retrieve the butcher paper from the basement and ask her draw life-size pictures of our family?
  • Turn on the backyard sprinkler for water play?
  • Listen to our Focus on the Family Radio Theatre Chronicles of Narnia CDs?
  • Set her up on Daddy's computer to play Reading Eggs?

Nah. No. Nope.

These boredom busting ideas, all good and useful at times, only satisfied her desire to be entertained by someone else. Not the boredom solution I sought. I wanted her to use creativity and entertain herself.

The Ultimate Boredom Solution

Mowing the front yard is 9 yr old Will's chore this summer.

And then I got a wonderful, awful idea!

As nonchalantly as possible I said, "I'm sorry you're bored. You can play with your dolls? ... Outside? .. With the brothers? ... Read books? ... No? ... You don't want to do any of those things?"

"Well, I guess there's only one thing left to do - WORK."

"I'll get you a wet washcloth and you can scrub your dirty footprints off the wall beside your bed. Then you can clean the grubby handprints off the hall walls. And when that's done, the kitchen wall behind the trash can needs washing."

Ellie quickly declined my wet washcloth offer and made her way back down the hall before my suggestion became a command. Within seconds I heard her happily bossing the littlest brother in a pretend game of "Mommy-Baby;" her boredom cured by a simple invitation to work.

As I returned to scrubbing the pot in the sink I just might have chuckled, and clucked, "What a great Mommy trick!"

What Mom tricks do you have for curing kids' boredom?

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LOVE MELISSA:) said...

Haha- make them work! Kids bored,lol- they should have our lives. I like your list! Very cute post!!

Amy said...

That was always my mom's response--and I quickly learned to never tell her I was bored! Somehow I could always find something to do! :)

Stephanie Kay said...

My kids have only used the B word a couple of times. It's amazing how quickly they find something to do when you offer them work. Being bored is good for kids. It challenges their creativity and self-entertainment skills!

Emily Cook said...

I LOVE your wonderful awful idea! :) It works here, EVERY time!

Rachel said...

My mom always answered the b word with work. I learned never ever to say bored. :)

Carrie said...

I DO think that work is a great boredom buster. It also reminds me that they feel happy and productive when they have little jobs to contribute to the household. When my kids have some work to do they are happy(ish) while doing it and happier (all the time) when they are able to get back to their play.

We would also get bored if we didn't have WORK to do! They aren't really different.

Unknown said...

I wrote the same post, different tune.

Stephanie Kay said...

Kids definitely like to feel productive and a part of the family unit. My oldest complains about mowing the grass but I know he feels proud when we tell him he did a great job.

Alicia said...

I'm laughing and loving your boredom cure. I use the same antidote around our house- haven't heard that B word all summer. WIsh someone would complain a bit- I've got baseboards that need dusting, walls that need washing... plenty to do if someone would just act a bit bored this summer :) Always a treat to visit here. Stopping by from HAH blog hop today. Blessings from Iowa!

Heather {Between the Chaos} said...

I will tuck this away for when my girls get a little older. I love how you write! I found you from the MommyHood Chronicles Blog Hop :)

Stephanie Kay said...

Thanks for stopping by and the nice compliment, Heather! This summer is the first time my daughter has said she's bored, and she's 5. So it might be a while before you need to use my solution. :)

A Proverbs 31 Wife said...

Growing up on a farm there wasn't much chance of us getting bored. In fact there was a greater chance that we would sneak off and play rather than complete our chores.
Now when I hear kids say they are bored I am often just shocked, as I realize once again how different things were for me growing up.

Stephanie Kay said...

Thanks for stopping by! I view my kid's boredom as an opportunity for them to learn to entertain themselves. If I leave them alone they always come up with a way to play or book to read. As a homeschool mom I'm often reminded of how different my kids' childhoods are from my own public school childhood. :)

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