Summer’s stretching on for those of us with kids not in school yet, and you’ve probably been hearing it for days or weeks now: “I’m booorrred,” “there’s nothing to doooo…,” etc.
Do I have a fun solution for you!
I started doing this with my now 10 year old daughter last summer, and found that not only did it minimize the “I’m bored” statements, it actually provided a real solution to the complaint (because they really are bored!).
So I created our “bored box.”
She and I sat down together and came up with 20 or so specific activities and wrote them down on small slips of paper. The activities were mainly fun little things she could do on her own, with a few chores mixed in. I then folded those slips and placed them in one of my little desk drawers (though I could have also used a cup, bowl, etc.).
We then agreed on phrases that would trigger pulling out our “bored box.” Obviously, “I’m bored” is one, but you could add “there’s nothing to do” and similar phrases. You could even add body language, like heavy sighing while flopping down on a piece of furniture and staring off into space.
Once she uttered one of the agreed upon phrases, the box came out, and she had to close her eyes, reach in, and pick a piece of paper. She was then held to what it instructed her to do, thus alleviating the boredom, at least for a bit. It also created a bit of fun way to deal with the complaining, replacing potential friction with a bit of mystery and anticipation. It’s a win/win (except for when they pick a chore, then it’s just a win for mom).
One of the advantages of the “bored box” is that not only does it give them something to do in the short term, it also opens up to them possibilities for activities they may have forgotten or not even thought about: the stencil set hidden in the back of the closet gets new life with a fresh project idea, the construction paper used for a fun craft they hadn’t thought of, a book from the bookshelf they suddenly can’t put down after the “bored box” instructs them to read for 30 minutes.