Kids seem to get more expensive when they are bored. Kids often claim that there is nothing to do at home and that only some new thing or outside stimulation will relieve their boredom. When boredom sets in and the whining begins, there is the temptation to give in and take them to a movie or to a paid play area, or buy them some new toy. However, boredom doesn’t have to be expensive, if you’re prepared to deal with it.
One day when your kids are not bored, have them make a list of all the things that they could do if they were bored. Have them go through their rooms and list every toy or game they could play with. Make them go outside and make a list of things they have in the yard such as bikes, skates, swing sets, sandboxes, and sporting equipment. Make them list their craft materials including crayons and coloring books, modeling clay, and construction paper. Chances are, the list of things they have to do will be extensive. (You can further break their lists down into indoor and outdoor activities. That way, you are prepared for rainy days or great weather days. You can also create seasonal lists that include holiday activities like baking cookies or dyeing Easter eggs.)
The final part of the list is your own creation. On the bottom of each kids’ list, list the things they can do for you if they are bored and can’t find anything else to do. You can include chores like dusting, vacuuming, raking leaves, mowing the lawn, washing dishes or cleaning the cats’ litter box. You can also get a list of things from their teacher that they could do for extra credit, or just to get ahead such as reading certain books or solving math problems.
When the kid whines about being bored, point him toward his list. If he still fails to find something to do, pick something off of your list. Chances are, when faced with the choice between playing a game or dusting the house, the kid will miraculously find something to do.
Boredom is easier to deal with when you and the kids are prepared for it. It’s almost never that the kid really has nothing to do, but rather that he wants someone to give him some direction or to present him with some preplanned activity rather than think of anything himself. If you have a list of things to do, it’s easier for the kid to choose something from the list rather than think up something on his own. Having a list takes the pressure off of the kid to come up with his own ideas.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with letting a kid be bored. Often, if you hold firm and tell the kid he won’t be getting a new toy or that you won’t be going to a movie, he will eventually find something to do. Boredom often leads to creative play, to discovering something new, or finding new friends. The worst case scenario is that the kid sits in his room and daydreams for an afternoon. That’s not such a bad thing, and it’s free.