Family Boredom Busters
By Joan Whetzel
Summer is the most likely time for kids - and families - to feel boredom busting out all over. However, it can happen any time of year, even after Christmas, when all the parties are over and all the presents have unwrappee. Before the "I'm bo-o-ored!" whining begins, plan ahead with some boredom busting ideas to keep the family entertained with something other than TV and video games.
Family Vacation Boredom Busters
Many families go on vacation during the summer and holidaty trips in the winter and spring. Vacations can be exciting and fun because they break up the monotony of the long summer days and the routineness of everyday life all year round. Take the opportunity to create a Vacation Memory Box for each child, which they can pull out on a rainy day and reminisce over the great time they had.
Begin with a shoe box, or any box about that size that can be closed and and is big enough to contain their vacation treasures. What they add to their Memory boxes is up to them, but it should include anything that reminds them of something special about that trip. Items that could be stashed inside a Vacation Memory Box include:
- Photos of them with someone special or doing something fun, silly, or totally out of character. The happier they look, the better.
- Trinkets they bought, found, won, or were given like seashells or sea glass, a pin or ring, a dried pressed flower, some marbles - the list is endless here.
- Memorabilia from the location, including a pennant from Sea World, a Mickey Mouse Ears Hat, an insignia or badge from NASA, a postcard. Again the items that fall under this category are endless.
Each kid can decorate their Vacation Memory Box any way they want. In fact, the decorating day can be a boredom busting arts and crafts day.
Stuck Indoors Boredom Busters
There will always be rainy days, and for those living far enough from the equator, there will always be snow in the winter. All that snow and rain means the kids are stuck indoors. Break up those house-bound days with a few of these boredom busters.
- Arts and Crafts Days: Anything that could conceivably be considered artistic are great for these activities. Ideas include: play dough or clay, water colors, crayons and coloring books, oil paints or acrylic paints and grown up art supplies for older kids, magazine photos or photos of themselves with glue and large paper or poster board to create a collage, sewing crafts, beading crafts, wood burning kits (for kids old enough to handle it), calligraphy supplies, jewelry making kits.
- Dress Up Days: This is definitely for younger kids. have a treasure trunk full of fancy clothes, costumes, hats, shoes, gloves and any play accessories (tea set, plastic swords and shields) to make the play time an absolute blast.
- Redecorating Days: This is great for older kids. Let them plan a way to redecorate their room. It may be as simple as re-arranging the furniture, to repainting the walls, or changing out the curtains. Of course, some of these cost a little money, so you may need to have them choose things that will fit into your budget. Or they can do some lawn mowing or babysitting to earn the money to help defray the costs of redecorating. Having them earn some of the money to redecorate their rooms has the added benefits of teaching them to work within a budget and gaining the satisfaction of learning how to do a few home improvement skills in a controlled environment. They'll need some of these skills when they are out on their own anyway, why not take the opportunity to teach them now.
- Library Days: Besides spending time picking out their own books, CDs and DVDs, they also get to spend time enjoying the materials they check out. Spending time simply reading, or listening to music, or watching a movie will fill up the free time on that rainy afternoon, or those few hours when their friends are not available.
- Computer Slide Show: Either scan their photos into the computer, or teach the kids how to do it themselves. Another method is to teach them a little basic digital photography (if you have a digital camera) and either upload the photos yourself, or teach them how to do it themselves. Most computers come with a basic photo shop type software that allows the user to crop photos, and adjust the brightness, contrast, and color. Let them artistically play around with their photos. It's fun, and they get to express their creativity. (Don't worry, there's usually a "revert" button that can return the photo to its original look.) Set up a folder for each child that holds their photos. They can then view their slide show anytime and - with parental approval - share their favorite photos with friends.
- Board Game Days: Have them take a break from the video games with some board games. It gives the kids a chance to interact with each other instead of a computer or game machine.
- Story Writing Days: Give the kids a journal or spiral notebook. Then provide them with a photo from a magazine, online, the newspaper, or even one from your family archives that they haven't seen before. Tell them to write a story about what is happening in the picture. Another trick is to buy one of those story starter books, or go online and get some freebee story starters, and have the kids write a story beginning with the story starter. They can draw in their own pictures if they want to illustrate the story.
Outdoors Boredom Busters
If the weather is great, send the kids outdoors. They'll get some exercise and soak in a little Vitamin D. Activities for outdoors may include:
- Games with Balls: baseball, kickball, football, volleyball, tennis, basketball, soccer
- Water Games and Sports: swimming, slip and slide, jumping through the sprinkler, squirt guns, water balloons.
- Other Outdoor Activities: drawing chalk pictures on the driveway and sidewalks, hopscotch, hoolahoops, Frisbees, kites, bicycling, finding pictures in the clouds, playing at the local playground, roller skating.
- Family Outings: These could include picnics, all day outings to any one of the state parks, July 4th activities and barbecues and fireworks, trips to the movie theater or the mall.
- Invent Their Own Fun: How many times have your kids received a great gift, only to find later that box is way more fun than the gift that came in it? How many large boxes do you have in your attic or garage that you were saving to mail Christmas packages in? Why not let your kids have one or more of those large boxes and see what they do with it? Items like a plain cardboard box, a clothesbasket, a plastic mayonnaise jar (cleaned out of, course) with holes punched in the lid, or any other kind of empty container that you're not currently using become fun, imagination-stretching, boredom-busting components for summer fun. The kids get to invent their own games to go with items. No instructions needed. Whatever the kids come up with is fair game.
- Building Snowmen: A great winter bordome buster, especially since these guys have the potential for lasting the entire winter. Plus they can be redecorated for a winter long fashion show.
- Snow Angels: Also great fun. They only last until the next snowfall. I guess that means continuous fun making more snow angels to repalce the ones that were covered up by Mother Nature.
- Snow Ball Fights: This one has the potential to get the whole neighborhood - or school yard - involved. Plan ahead by making and stashing a good supply for future snowball fights.
Most of these are free or inexpensive. A few require an initial outlay of money (bicycle, art supplies, board games), after which the kids get hours and hours of free fun. I'll be taking care of one of my granddaughters for at least a week or two this summer and would love to hear from anyone who has some other ideas or suggestions.