Want to know something that both frustrates me and amuses me mightily? During the school year I have to wake my boysup at 7:30 to get chores done and breakfast eaten so we can be in class by 8. And sometimes it’s HARD.
Sometimes it’s downright improbable.
They are teenagers now, after all, and their bodies are doing that weird teenager thing where they want to stay up all night and sleep F-O-R-E-V-E-R once they finally get to bed.
During the summer? I can’t even get my first cup of coffee down without those boys rolling out of bed and bounding into the living room sometime between 6 & 7.
Talking. Immediately. Incessantly. Ever seen me before my 1st cup of coffee? It’s not pretty. And you really don’t want to talk to me at all. Because chances are my response will be something along the lines of, “Please stop talking. For like half an hour.”
Not the best thing to say to your kids. So I suck it up. I let them talk, even though I would rather hit myself in the head with a rock. I even try to respond.
Kindly, I swear. I can’t help the way my tone sounds when I’m not fully awake!
But there’s one thing that really gets me fuming on a gorgeous summer morning when I’ve thrown the windows open to let in the smell of the woods and fields, and the sunshine is just topping the trees and turning the yard golden, and the birds are twittering happily outside and that is All I Want To Hear:'Mom, what can I do? I don't know what to do. I'm bored.'Click To Tweet
Um. Can I finish my coffee before we have this conversation? Pretty please???
Of course not.
It’s summer break. You don’t have school. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do once your chores are done. In fact, sometime today we will probably do something awesome. But first… be very quiet and let me finish my coffee.
So I’ve come up with a list of responses to beat those summer blahs. Because it is, actually, hard on a kid to go from a structured day to one in which he has to fill the hours by himself. And it’s not his fault daylight comes earlier and there’s no reason to try to steal an extra 15 minutes asleep. (I mean, we won’t be skipping math or writing because of it during the summer. Not that we do anyway, but I think they always hope.)
So here’s my list of things they can do on their own, without my input, so I can finish my coffee and they will (God willing) stop talking to me for half an hour.
Notice they are all unplugged things. I live in the real world, but I just don’t feel right recommending they turn on a screen to combat boredom. Especially not at 6 in the morning. Where I might have to hear it.
15 ideas to beat summer boredom
1. Build a tent fort My Littles love nothing more than getting out the sheets and blankets and building a fort. Especially if they can trap the dog in there with them. I make them a deal that I will let them keep it up all day if they build it themselves.
2. Read your book When a kid is bored, this often sounds boring. But if you can them started they will eventually get interested and forget they were ever bored to begin with. Even better? Read aloud to them. They might focus more quickly on your voice than they would words on a page.
3. Quiet time basket! I have extolled the virtues of the quiet time basket before, but it works as well for boredom as it does for diffusing tension. If they are claiming boredom and I yell, “Quiet Time!” they obediently grab something from the basket and become absorbed. I set the timer for half an hour. And finish my coffee in peace.
4. Play a Bored (board) game We just picked up a like-new copy of the old game Scotland Yard for 50 cents at a yard sale. The boys Love It, which is awesome because I remember playing it with my family as a child and loving it as well. But I usually mean Sorry or Checkers or Clue, something that works better with only 2 players. You could even grab a free lit-based board game here!
5. Finger paint Every kid loves to finger paint. I keep a supply on hand, along with a roll of freezer paper for them to paint on. Here’s a secret about freezer paper–it’s cheaper than butcher paper or any other roll you can buy that’s meant for school-age kids. And it works just as well. We use it for everything. And it has that great waxed backing, so paints don’t soak through it. Seriously, invest in some.
6. Get out the Mad Libs We love Mad Libs. We use them to drive home grammar lessons during school, even have some that help with math, but mostly we just love getting them out and making funny stories. Even that early in the morning, I’m down for a game of Mad Libs. So I get to play, too. Of course, most of the words end up being disgusting adjectives and body parts, but I do have boys.
7. Grab the Nature Walk bag, head outside, and see what you can discover. We keep a bag filled with binoculars, magnifying glasses, nature journals, colored pencils, water bottles, and several different nature books (among other things). I tell the boys to go find me a four-leaf clover, find a new flower in the garden, discover a bug, search out a skink. Take the magnifying glass and look at one spot for several minutes. Record what they see.
8. Go play basketball/baseball/football Any sport they enjoy. Sometimes just getting up and getting moving chases the boredom away and helps them figure out how they want to spend the rest of their day.
9. Tell me a story Sure, I need quiet first thing in the morning. But if I can get them to tell me a story, they start using their imagination, practice their story-telling skills, and maybe suddenly say to each other, “Hey, this would make a great game! Let’s go play.”
10. Pick an activity out of The Dangerous Book for Boys. I love this book. It’s full of fun, adventurous things for boys to do like making paper airplanes, tying knots, building a treehouse, juggling, building a workbench. Sometimes they look through it for long enough that by the time they pick an activity I’m awake and ready to help them.
11. Draw/Do a craft My youngest likes to draw stories. He will draw several hours’ worth of action on a single sheet of paper, then come tell me what’s happening. Both the boys like to get out the gobs of craft paraphernalia and create. Again, it often leads to a game they’ve made up together.
12. Build a Lego/block house for your action figures If you have boys and they’re anything like mine, your house is a haven for action figures of every sort–superheroes, Pokemon, Transformers, Walking Dead characters… I tell them they can keep the house up all day if they build it themselves. Suddenly they are entertained For Hours. Because why build a house and not play with it?
13. Take your cars outside and create a race track/crash-up derby/monster truck rally The great thing about summer is you can take your toys outside, get to be out of the house, and have a whole new (and bigger) area to play in. Make the most of it. Take some water; make some mud.
14. Get out your water guns Sometimes, filling up a bucket with water and sending them outside with a water gun is the only way to get them clean.
15. Make my breakfast Hey, if you’re that bored, chances are I haven’t eaten even though I’ve been up for a while. The boys love to work in the kitchen, so cutting me up some fruit or whipping up some scrambled eggs is going to go a long way to improving my morning mood. Which serves everyone.
If nothing on this list works and I am out of spur-of-the-moment ideas, I tell them it’s up to them to come up with something to do. One of the wonders of boredom is that it makes us try to think of something to do. Kids need to learn how to counter boredom on their own, and often my boys come up with things that I would never think of. And then the Real Adventure begins.