Here in the Lowcountry, we are just past the mid-way point of summer break for kids. This is about the time that the shiny new feeling of summer break has worn off. It’s hot outside…really hot outside. The hot weather, plus your children’s friends are out of town, and the kids have played with each toy thousands of times. This is the time when you begin to hear, “Mom, I’m bored.”
As a mom, I know that boredom for children is normal. It’s actually a good, healthy feeling for children from time to time. It is important for children to experience being bored and for us to help them master how to overcome it. It is a challenge, but can provide a valuable life skill.
Many times with boredom comes the continuous complaining, whining, and grumpiness from your children. When that starts to happen, what is the best response we can give as moms?
These are some of the things I have found to be helpful when I hear “I’m bored” from my children:
I start with a schedule.
My children crave predictability. Together we create a schedule, starting with a morning wake-up time. Our wake up time is generally around 7:30 or 8:00 a.m. My son sets his alarm. Once we established a wake-up time, we came up with a schedule that includes breakfast, chores (depending on age), unscheduled play time, relaxation time, lunch, reading (daily), and a set bed time.
Building off of a daily schedule, I then chunk the week.
Chunking the week means segmenting into daily themes and creating excitement about a different aspect of the day. It looks a little something like this:
- Make the world a better place, Monday: How will we make the world a better place this week, I ask my son? Some weeks we spend time picking up trash from the local beach and recycling those items. Some weeks we drop off donations at my favorite Lowcountry non-profit, The Lowcountry Orphan Relief Finding a focus bigger than my son helps take the focal point off him and his feelings of being bored.
- Travel, trip Tuesday: This is one of my favorite days. Even as a working mom during the summer, I find ways to take small travel trips. We take a trip either to the library (free!), Barnes and Noble, out to lunch, on a picnic at a local park (my favorite is the Isle of Palms Rec Center Park) or one of the many local plantations. Traveling away from the house helps fight the boredom in our house.
- Water Wednesday: Depending on the weather, we beat the heat with a trip to the pool, beach, or a splash in the sprinklers. Water Wednesdays are my son’s favorite day. As a water loving boy, I do my best to make the most of these days. We get up early to dig, swim, make sand castles at the beach, or plan a post-nap swim lesson at the neighbor’s pool. A nice sun hat, rash guard shirt, swim trunks, and sunscreen is all he needs to be a happy boy…oh, and snacks (never forget the food!)
- Throwback Thursday: The popular hashtag #tbt helped us pick the Thursday theme. We find ways to reuse, reread, and reach out to previous toys, books, and people. This past week, I introduced my son to the Berenstein Bears books. We went to the library and found books from my childhood to read. I love introducing my son to books that are classics. Beyond books, I will find forgotten toys and take them out, clean them up, and introduce new ways to use them. We also like to stay in touch with previous teachers and friends. My son loves to hear about old friends in preschool and then create letters and pictures to send to those friends or ones who have moved.
- Family Friday: We take Friday to unwind and relax from the week. This is our day for a purposeful planned family activity. The UNO card game has become a new family favorite. Teaching our young son how to play has been a big challenge, yet rewarding as he learns the rules on how to win AND lose.
Planning bigger goals and trips:
If we travel during the summer, we enjoy counting down to the trip. It’s fun to count weeks, days, hours, minutes, and seconds until we leave. As the day nears, we begin to complete laundry, pick items to pack, and put needed items into the suitcase. This sense of anticipation towards a bigger end goal (vacation) is a fun way to fight the feelings of boredom.
Stick together to create a memorable summer. We only have eighteen summers with our children, and our children only have eighteen summers with us. Time is too precious. Create a schedule that works for your family and make the most of summer time!