“I’m soooooo booooooored!”

If this familiar refrain has already become the soundtrack for your summer, take heart. Studies suggest there is a good and healthy level of boredom that can increase a person’s creativity, spark the imagination and promote self-sufficiency.  If giving your kids to unstructured time to battle their own boredom seems like a radical – maybe even dangerous – idea, then consider the research suggesting that kids who never learn how to get over being bored are at risk for becoming involved in problems at school, high risk sexual behavior, substance use, and delinquency.

So maybe the experts are on to something when they argue for letting kids enjoy a healthy dose of boredom. I remember the unstructured summers of my childhood – long before iPhones and Netflix – when my brother and I rode our bikes to the Badcock store a few blocks from our house. We were on a mission for refrigerator boxes. They always had one or two to give us. We would bring the boxes home and spend those long summer days in “building” rocket ships or lemonade stands or castles in lands as far away as our imaginations could carry us. Our boredom led us in to daydreams and those daydreams led us out of our boredom.

When your kids have nothing to do, maybe they won’t be as interested in repurposing cardboard boxes as my brother and I were.  But a little unstructured time and boredom might be just what they need to fire up their imaginations and their creativity.  If they need a little prompting in this area, the folks at verywellfamily suggest encouraging them to use the word “bored” as a mnemonic device. Before coming to tell you how bored they are, ask them to first ask how they have B.O.R.E.D:

  • Be creative. Encourage kids to use their minds and bodies engage in creative activities. Coloring, story writing, sidewalk chalk art and other projects are just an idea away.
  • Outside play. In Florida, our options are nearly endless.  Just be sure everyone is wearing sunscreen and staying hydrated.
  • Read a book. Even a kid that claims to hate reading might get caught up in a book if it’s one they pick themselves about subject they find interesting so head over to your nearest library and help your kiddos find that great summer read. If your child needs an extra incentive, check out these reading rewards programs retailers are offering to kids this summer.
  • Exercise. Just like the rest of us, kids need regular physical exercise for good health. Outside play that gets muscles moving counts as exercise too!  So does a brisk walk or bike ride. Join your child in some of these more specific exercise routinesthat offer a more structured workout.
  • Do something helpful. You and your child can develop a list of age-appropriate activities. These might involving helping around the house or maybe helping out a neighbor or in your church or other community group.  This is a great opportunity to teach and do with your child in service to one another and others.

Of course, the very thing that makes the summer “soooooooo boring” for kiddos – all that unstructured time –is also the thing that makes summer such a great time for the whole family to plan some fun and memorable activities.  The ones below incorporate many of the B.O.R.E.D. strategies.  If you give any of them a try, be sure to let us know how it goes in the comments section below – and please share any other summer boredom busters there as well!

 

The Summer Bucket List

A few years ago, friends of mine started a fun summer tradition with their girls which also serves as an effective way to prevent summer boredom.  It’s a “bucket list” of activities the family wants to do over the summer  My friends encouraged each of their girls to choose one or two activities for the whole family that may need help – and funding – from mommy and daddy, but other bucket list items are activities that their girls can accomplish or coordinate on their own.  Bucket list activities might include: living room campout; learn to ride a bike; read all books in favorite series; pajama movie marathon; cook dinner for to a neighbor; and try all 31 flavors at Baskin & Robbins.  The Summer Bucket List allows each member of the family – and the family as a whole – to use their imaginations and creativity to develop intentional plans for their time over the summer.  It also gives the kiddos activities to refer to – that were their own ideas – when they are bored, and promotes less whining about participation in family activities.

 

Backyard Waterpark

You don’t have to have a swimming pool to stay cool in your backyard this summer.  Challenge the kids to come up with some ways to create a back yard waterpark. Will it be an inflatable pool filled with bubble bath or a DIY slip ‘n’ slide?  Kids could also make super-soakers from spray bottles and splashballs from by sponges and a sprinkler using a plastic bottle, phillips head screwdriver, and electrical tape.  If mom and dad are getting involved, check out this cool idea for making a pool noodle sprinkler or this kiddie sprinkler with pool noodle water blasters.

 

Get Your Bowl On

If your kids say its too hot for exercise, Aloma Bowling Centers are offering offer two free games of bowling for kids 15 years of age and under with each shoe rental. This event runs Monday through Friday from open through 7 p.m. until August 30, 2019. Participating children must be registered in advance.  A parent of legal guardian must be present.

 

Escape to the Movies

Cobb Theatres/CMX Cinemas’Kids Summer Movie Escape happens every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 10 a.m.  A new movie is offered each week. Doors open at 9 a.m. and admission is free  First come, first served.  These movies might spark your kids’ interest in reading the books of the same name that inspired ‘Peter Rabbit’ (July 9-11) and ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ (July 23-25) or in reading books related to series like ‘Hotel Transylvania” (July 2-4) and or ‘Legos Movie 2: The Second Part’(July 30 – Aug 1).

 

A Good Time for a Good Cause

Summer is a good time for the family to come together in service to a good cause. But before launching into action, encourage each family member to spend some time in thought and prayer about one good cause that really moves them and thinking about one activity the family could do to support that cause.  Saying “yes” to a project you don’t actually have much interest in or overcommitting – even to a cause you care about deeply – is likely to result in stress and burnout.  Once causes and activities are determined, the family can come together for each person to share why they feel strongly about the cause they chose and why the activity they propose matches the abilities and commitment of the whole family.  Parents can also consider whether the activity will be an opportunity building in some teachable moments.  If the activity is fun, it is likely to be repeated.  If it’s repeated, it will be a great way to establish family traditions and create lasting memories.

A few practical ways to implement this strategy:

  • Help an elderly neighbor by doing yardwork; sweeping the porch and driveway; and supplying a homecooked meal.
  • Raise money to support Bethany or another accredited organization that helps displaced children in need of a family by holding a garage sale and donating the proceeds or designate a percentage of money earned for household chores one month.
  • Help fill the cupboards at the Edgewood Children’s Ranch by turning their organizing a neighborhood scavenger hunt using their list of Kitchen Needs.