Dear Children: Let Me Explain This Thing Called Summer

It was an hour after she got home from Vacation Bible School.

One hour after Water games! Snow cones! a Slimy Craft! Dancing and Singing! The Best Day Ever!

We were in the second week of summer. The second week of sleeping in and she was slipping and sliding

splash1

splash2

towards boredom.

Walking around the house, whining about nothing to do.

Kicking her foot and waiting outside the bathroom door. (I wasn’t hiding, really).

Sound familiar?

Go. Find. Something. To. Do.

She gave me an empty stare and then I realized she was waiting on me to tell her what to do, to do something with or for her.

And there it was again, this “You Owe Me” mentality that is wrecking our culture. We do so much for our kids- camps and classes,  back and forth to lessons and events, we spend money and fill their lives with stuff and you’d think they would be oozing gratitude, but we are taken aback when they just want more.

More activities, more fun, more stuff.

More.

And honestly, I can’t really blame my first grader. Because for a long time, I provided The More. I bought into this lie that it’s my job to make my kids’ childhood magical and fun and everyday an adventure all about them.

I have fed the entitlement beast and when it rears it’s ugly head, my children aren’t the only ones to blame.

Our children need to be bored. They need to kick their feet and wait outside of bathroom doors, unanswered. They need to be sent outside or to their rooms to play. They need to turn over the bag of tricks and find it empty.

Because that’s when they will discover they don’t need stuff to fill their time. They don’t need a plan for entertainment.

They can create their own. And that’s when summer gets magical.

I pulled my little one aside and got down on eye level and I said, “Let me explain summer to you, honey.”

“There will be fun days! We will check boxes off your summer bucket list. We will play. We will work. We will serve. We will have great times. But there will also be a lot of unplanned days, there will be empty hours. There will be days when you’ve watched enough TV or we won’t be leaving the house for something super fun.

At first, these days may seem boring or like there is nothing to do. And that’s okay. Because after you whine and perhaps, cry, you will have to make up your own fun. You’ll get into that book from the library. You’ll draw doll furniture and cut it out and give your paper dolls a good home. You will figure something out. I love to see you having fun, but I will not, I cannot make every day fun. It’s not my job to make every moment The Best of Your Life. But it is my job to teach you that the days that aren’t fun usually end up being the best ones of summer.”

She ended up with a bucket of Legos and spent a couple of hours creating the coolest flying space car ever.

Sometimes we have to just wait for our kids to remember just how fun boredom can be.

C’mon, moms! Who’s with me?

Read more about how we are trying to conquer entitlement in our home in Rhinestone Jesus: Saying Yes to God When Sparkly Safe Faith is No Longer Enough.

Comments

  1. 1

    says

    I am SO with you! Last week was our kids’ first week of summer and I heard the “b” word…bored! However, my eldest found her inner creative genius and made her younger sister a “binder Barbie salon” and a “binder Barbie dance studio.” It was very impressive! We will read a LOT and go swimming some. There will be a fun thing or two and VBS and preteen camp sprinkled in the mix, but I am with you on the kids figuring out how to have their own fun without me being the ship activities director. Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom.

  2. 2

    says

    I would give anything to have my kids be bored right now. Because we moved to England and they do year-round school here and don’t get out for summer until July 23. I am so sick of the school routine!

    • 2.1

      Becky says

      Ain’t it the pits! I moved to England, too, before I had kids. We often go back to the States to visit family as soon as school gets out in order to coincide with the last week of summer holidays there so they can see their cousins. Unfortunately, once we come back again all the fun things for them to do happened the first two weeks of holiday and then their friends all scatter on family holidays and mine are stuck at home…. bored. At least it makes them ready for school to start again ;-) But I have been criticized by some in past because I have the same mentality of leaving them to make their own fun even when they were primary school age. It was implied that I was “too busy” and was neglectful for telling them to go outside and play when the weather was good. I was also criticized for letting them climb trees because it was dangerous and for letting them walk around the corner to the store (shouting distance) because they might have been snatched. Now they are teenagers and know how to make their own fun (most of the time), they are independent and capable and adventurous. And I am proud of them.

      • 2.1.1

        Amy says

        With all due respect, maybe if you considered homeschooling, instead of sending your kids to oppressive year-round schools, they’d get more than a week with their cousins in the US, and they’d get more than a few weeks to be a kid and learn how to enjoy the summer in their youth!!

        • 2.1.1.1

          Jen says

          Did you really just scold Becky because she doesn’t homeschool??? Why do women always find things to criticize other women about instead of being supportive.

          • 2.1.1.1.1

            Linda says

            Jen, I couldn’t agre with you more! As women, we should take every opportunity we find to build one another up, not tear one another down. There’s enough of that in the world already !

          • 2.1.1.1.2

            Lauren says

            Seriously, ladies???? You are criticizing that she is “tearing down” the commenter because she does NOT homeschool. The way I read it, she is simply giving an alternative option that may or may not have been previously considered as a resolution for her children not having a workable schedule for them to visit family. You are all now guilty of doing exactly the same thing that you are blaming her for…”criticizing and tearing her down” for simply offering her opinion of another option besides public school. Wow! Talk about HYPOCRITICAL!

          • 2.1.1.1.4

            Lisa Moore says

            No kidding! Women are just so catty….no need for it! To each there own! There are things about public and private schools that children benefit from that home schooled children don’t….like the social aspect! Why is one better than the other? I could say more….but I won’t!!

          • 2.1.1.1.5

            Denise Medrano says

            I agree. Why do women bash each other??? It puzzles me. I have children that are homeschooled and children that have gone to public school. I think it’s important to consider your options as a family and go from there. If we all supported each other for the decisions we make in our family’s best interest, this world would be a better place!

          • 2.1.1.1.6

            says

            I didn’t think she was judging. The commenter was complaining about her children’s schedule and the second comment was reminding her that there are other options besides a year-round school schedule that she hates.

            Sometimes we get so into our routines and the way we’ve always done things that we forget it doesn’t have to be that way. Just another way to look at it. Everything doesn’t have to be a fight.

          • 2.1.1.2.1

            lisa muir says

            AGREED! sometimes there’s a misreading of someone’s tone & sometimes its crystal clear. There is a way to say what you are thinking without tearing another down.
            and back to the original article- brilliant! we’ve added two items to the traditional curse word list in this house: “i know” and “im bored” cant say as we are always busy busy, but they know they better not announce that sentiment! Here’s to everyone happily getting their basic work done so that they can attack their summer bucket lists with gusto & glee. … and here’s to the rainy day moments when you discover a box of unfinished projects just waiting to unbore someone!

        • 2.1.1.3

          Jennifer says

          “With all due respect” in this context should have been replaced to say “Nothing I’m about to say is going to be respectful in the least and comes entirely from a place of judgment.”

        • 2.1.1.4

          Johnney says

          With all due respect, you shouldn’t open your mouth if all you are going to do is belittle and berate the decisions of other parents.

          • 2.1.1.4.1

            Beth Sowell says

            basically the home school comment doesn’t relate to the article at all. it was chance to take a dig at someone who doesn’t make her choices.

        • 2.1.1.5

          Amanda says

          Phrases like “With all due respect” and “oppressive” indicate that Amy is looking for an argument. Homeschooling may work for some, but not everyone. We all have choices to make as parents and my choices are not necessarily the best for your kids and your choices are not the best for mine. Like the previous poster said, ‘why can’t we just be supportive of one another as parents?’. Get off your high horse and focus on being a good parent rather than tearing others down.

        • 2.1.1.6

          Mia says

          Just incase you weren’t aware not everyone is able to homeschool, not everyone is able to give their infants the finest looking onsies and have the best stroller, not everyone can afford organic food. Every family I am sure is doing the best they can weather they can only feed their child peanut butter sandwiches on whole wheat or if they give them chicken. don’t criticize or look down on someone because they aren’t doing what your doing. Homeschooling isn’t for everyone.

        • 2.1.1.8

          says

          Seriously, not everyone believes in homeschooling. Why must you feel the need to critique others and their choices? I’m sure you must get heat from those who feel homeschooling is ” weird.”

        • 2.1.1.9

          sparticus says

          Some families don’t have the luxury of not working to home school. Maybe you shouldn’t be so judgy.

          • 2.1.1.9.1

            erma says

            My children are grew up during the seventies and eighties, and we were military. I was a sahm when they were small. However I did childcare to help supplement our income. So in a sense I home schooled at the pre-school level. However I knew that I did not have the education to teach them once they started elementary school. They both had learning disabilities and there have been times over the years I’ve wished that I had been able to homeschool them. But you can only do what seems right at the time.

        • 2.1.1.10

          Melisa says

          Saying “with all due respect” before you say something rude does not make it okay. It actually sounds worse. Homeschool away my friend, and don’t take away from those of us who don’t!

        • 2.1.1.12

          Gail says

          There’s nothing “respectful” at all in your comment! How do you know what she has considered or done in the past? How do you know if homeschooling is right for her family? Seems very presumptuous of you.

        • 2.1.1.13

          georgieandthree says

          Year-round school is not ‘oppressive’ any more than the US system of school, it’s just different. My kids here in Australia love the fact that they get two weeks of school holidays every 9-10 weeks, and six-eight weeks (depending on the school) over summer is plenty of time to have fun, get bored, discover, take family vacations. As a working single parent, *I* love the regular break from school routine too, and would dread the thought of 3 months where I would have to organise expensive alternative care for them. Four sets of school holidays a year also gives much more choice in taking family vacations instead of just the one summer period. Sorry to disappoint but we are not oppressed by this system.

        • 2.1.1.14

          Randall says

          You know Amy, and ladies, all of this could be said in positives instead of negatives. Amy, I suggest that the “with all due respect” is a statement that is a caveat before saying something that can sound critical and disrespectful. Everything you said was good it was just the tone. You could say it like this, “Becky, I totally get how public school schedules can make things rough. Have you ever considered home schooling.” than give the positives of how it has worked for your family. Make it a positive suggestion rather with how it has worked for you, rather than something that many here have perceived as criticism rather than the suggestion you intended. This is kind of funny. The guy is making the comment about sharing feelings in a more positive way. I will continue to try to practice what I am preaching here.

        • 2.1.1.15

          Stephanie says

          If you ever start a comment “with all due respect” or anything like it, just close your mouth right there unless your intention is to insult.

        • 2.1.1.16

          Kristina says

          Shame on you! You are one of “those” mothers that obviously feels your choices are superior to the choices of every other mother. We need to support each other not judge and tear each other apart. Your obviously just not a nice or kind person. And as kids don’t do what you say rather they model their parents behaviors and attitude – your poor kids should go to one of those “oppressive” school’s because if they have to stay home with you all the time I fear their doomed to being unkind little brats!

      • 2.1.2

        Jill says

        Thank you so much for your comment! I too have sent my kids outside, let them climb trees and at times fend for themselves entertainment-wise, but the criticism for being “neglectful” has mostly come from within. I struggle with feeling like I am fostering their independence and just being lazy and uninterested (which I know I’m not). So hearing that your teens are happily independent gives me hope that my tweens will be the same. It always helps to hear other moms struggling with the same issues.

          • 2.1.2.1.1

            Jodi Lewis says

            My friend’s mother always told her, “Lazy moms do all the work” As a kid, she didn’t understand it, but as a mom, she totally gets it!;)

        • 2.1.2.2

          erma says

          I have been a pre-school/daycare teacher for over thirty years, in centers that followed a regular schedule, with doing things at certain times, although we also allowed for free play, but of course children weren’t allowed to go off on their own. One of the things I’ve had parents mention many times over the years, is that while they generally liked our program their kids didn’t know how to entertain themselves. When they were at home, they were constantly asking their parents ” What is it time to do now?” In most school situation children have everything scheduled. Time for reading, time for writing, time for this , time for that. They need to learn to entertain themselves somehow, and not having Mom be a constant entertainer Is a good start. They do need the balance of having planned activities, and using their imaginations. Kids today seem to have a hard time doing that, or at least the ones I’ve came in contact with.

      • 2.1.3

        Amber says

        I totally agree with this parenting style. My mom was awesome when I was a kid and loved taking us to the zoo or to pools and reading to us. But we were usually responsible for figuring out our own fun. I made up stories, drew pictures, and came up with make believe games for my sister and I to play. My mom trusted us to ride our bikes to Dairy Queen (blocks away) and to make good choices. She later trusted me as a 14 year old to take a commuter train to high school from the suburbs. People thought she was crazy. But with a Harvard master’s degree and my dream job where I have to figure things out all the time… I’m really glad my mom didn’t coddle me through childhood. And she definitely never let me believe I was good at something when I wasn’t. It made appreciate and excel in the things I actually WAS good at, or working at. I taught high school for six years and this sense of entitlement is a huge problem for young people.

    • 2.2

      Amy says

      One word………..HOMESCHOOLING!!!

      Then you can set the schedule that works best for you, and you can set the pace, and your kids can learn anywhere & everywhere in the world!!

      • 2.2.1

        Linda says

        Amy, I homeschooled my three children and loved it. However, homeschool is NOT for everyone. Why can’t you just appreciate that Becky has raised her children to be independent, resourceful, adventurous young people instead of blasting her because she doesn’t homeschool???? I’m glad homeschool works so well for you, but as I said, it’s definitely not for everyone!

        • 2.2.2.1

          Karen says

          Exactly. Apparently this homeschooling parent needs to get out a bit more. I agree with everything this article says. Luckily, I’m secure enough in life to care less what other non involved people have to say about what my family does. Homeschooling will never be the route for me, and guess what MY KIDS WILL SURVIVE! HALLELUJAH!

          • 2.2.2.1.1

            Jen Z says

            I can’t imagine homeschooling my kids. I love them dearly but God did not equip me, or them, with the patience necessary for us to spend that much time together. I might’ve done it when they were little, but the hormones took over and holy shizznits.

      • 2.2.3

        Christy says

        Honestly, homeschooling is great if you live in an area where it is popular and can have a community to do things with. If you homeschool in a community where there aren’t other children, the child isn’t building the social skills they need at a young age. I am all for homeschooling but it isn’t for everyone. It is typically for a two parent house hold, where one person stays at home with the kids. If there is only one parent, or both parents work, it’s not beneficial. I understand that everyone is trying to be helpful, but we don’t need to judge how other people raise their children.

        • 2.2.3.1

          mindless stranger says

          This comment is not directed at anyone in particular, but instead everyone.I can’t believe you all have enough time to waste on this type of thing. Go do something productive!
          I am going back to work now. Thanks for sucking time out of my day for something as pointless as reading other peoples opinions. Shame on me for getting sucked into this soap opera……

    • 2.3

      Karen says

      OK Crystal and Becky should explain that their kids are NOT in school year round in England, and neither is it an ‘oppressive’ regime there. they forgot to mention that they have a week off (half term) every six weeks splitting each semester, then at the end of term/ semester (i.e. Winter and Spring break) they have at least TWO weeks off, therefore taking only SIX weeks off in the summer. Last I counted thats 13 weeks off, pretty equivalent to the summer here. Consider that my kids didn’t get more than 3 days of Spring Break because we lost so many snow days and have been in school since January almost non stop. The shorter summer break has also been proven to reduce learning loss and contributes to the increased education level overall.

      • 2.3.1

        Renee says

        That’s what year round school is. They go year round with 2-3 week breaks after about 6 weeks or so, so yes, their kids are enrolled in schools that go year round. There is no 8-10 weeks summer break.

        • 2.3.1.1

          Deb says

          But not everybody is familiar with the term “year round school” and might very well think her kids got almost no vacation. I think it was fair for her to point out that “year round school” gets as much time off as summer vacation schools; it’s just distributed differently.

          • 2.3.1.1.1

            Rachel says

            Not necessarily. I homeschool my oldest year round, and we do not do any long breaks at all. He has work to do six days a week, minus holidays, illness, and major life events (we moved 6 times last year, and each move created a one week break, likewise for the birth of my third). The result is that he never has more than 2 hours if work to do in a day unless he wants to, and that freedom is glorious.

    • 2.4

      Nesli says

      Lol, Welcome to Britain. I’m also from 100 days of summer vacation back ground, I don’t get the whole year school thing either but at least it gives our kids less time to be bored. :)

  3. 3

    jan says

    TOTALLY WITH YOU! We are 2 weeks into summer and enjoying it, but that word has come up and I appreciate so much all that your post said! Thank you!

    • 3.1

      Dawn says

      Simply teach your kiddos that when you hear the word “bored” your ears automatically translate that into “Mom, I need a job!”. Then hand them a roll of paper towels and some all-purpose cleaner and say “Oh, good. The bathroom floor needs cleaned! I’m so glad you are available.” And if WHINING ensures, hand them the toilet brush and say, “Oh, and don’t forget to scrub the toilet while you are in there.”
      It took my kids only a few times before they never uttered the “b” word again! LOL!

      • 3.1.1

        Alison Routt says

        Love it! Will try immediately. I am striving to be a bit more structured this summer. It hits us really hard come September if we don’t keep some semblance of routine. It is a painful transition to reality!

      • 3.1.2

        Lindsey says

        You are a genius!!!! When my kids tell me they’re bored, they are given a chore to do. They don’t tell me they’re bored very often anymore.

      • 3.1.3

        Jen Z says

        I just read that to my daughter and she said, “there’s going to be a lot of bathroom cleaning going on this summer.”

      • 3.1.4

        Heather S. says

        I’m totally with you here – my girls know that if they come to me and proclaim boredom has overtaken them I’m ready with some of my tasks that they can help with. And sometimes, they come to me and ask how they can help because they truly want something to do. That’s a bonus! :)

      • 3.1.5

        Kari_Altadena says

        My response to my daughter when she says she has nothing to do – I give her a box and tell her to start packing up her toys so we can give them to another family who will actually use them. Of course she is horrified and runs off to prove that she does indeed play with them.

      • 3.1.7

        Elizabeth says

        My kids are in their thirties. I used this tip when they were young. I did not hear the word bored much, but laughed when the youngest used to come ask me for a job to do. I think she missed the first part of the exchange with her older siblings, but clearly got the ‘Mom has jobs’ part. I retired a few years back and my husband just recently. The weather was atrocious for the first few weeks he was home. I started to get various forms of the ‘I’m bored’ complaint again. I ran an errand, and there it was, paint. My bedroom looks lovely, thank you. Keep this one in your back pocket…you never know when it will come in handy.

      • 3.1.8

        AmyC says

        I’m literally laughing out loud, because my Dad used to order a truckload of mulch on the first day of summer vacation. If you uttered the unlawful “b-word”, you were sent outside for mulch shoveling. Lol! We kids found LOTS of things to do to fill up our time. :)

  4. 4

    says

    I love this! I’m still about 4 years off from having school-aged kids, but I think this applies to toddlers too! It’s not my job to constantly entertain them. So freeing!

  5. 6

    Robin McAfee says

    I totally agree with you! As a teacher, I see this entitlement phenomena going on all the time! Kids just don’t know how to have down time anymore.

  6. 7

    says

    I wish I could give you a big hug. I said it to my husband yesterday – why do these kids need me to ENTERTAIN them? They had watched enough TV and I had things that NEEDED to get done around the house… BOREDOM is OK! Not entertaining is OK!!! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    • 7.1

      Maggie says

      When my kids complain they are bored and I have alot of things to get done around the house I put them to work. Taking out trash, sweeping,vacuuming, unloading dish washer, folding laundry are all great motivators for finding their own entertainment!

      • 7.1.2

        emma says

        I did the exact same thing with my kids! If they say they’re bored or ask “what can I dooooooo? Whiiiiiiiine!” They are given a chore that they have to do, no excuses, they asked for something to do, we gave them something to do, they get to do it. It only took about 2 weeks before those phrases were removed from our home. Yay!

      • 7.1.3

        Dawn says

        AMEN! That is exactly what I do. My kids are now 14, 12 & 9 and they don’t DARE utter the “b” word anymore. They know the first “entertainment” I will give them is, “Clean the bathroom floor on your hands and knees. Have fun!”

  7. 8

    Jodi says

    Thank you for the reminder of this! I was just having this discussion with my husband yesterday. The balance of finding fun things for our kids to do and just letting them alone to find their own fun. I get caught in the trap of providing all of the fun or feeling guilty if I am not. Your post was perfect timing for me as I made the resolve just yesterday to allow my kids to find their own fun more often this summer.

  8. 9

    says

    I love it when the tv is off and the kids are pretend playing without the need for me to “entertain them.” There is a fine balance between supporting kids and becoming a crutch. Great post!

  9. 10

    says

    We are currently in the process of buying a house and selling ours so we ended our (home)school year earlier than normal. And right now we’re stuck in the “most of our stuff is packed to help keep the house clean for showings” mode… especially since our closing date moved… so we’ve had quite a few extra boredom-filled moments. The latest enstallment of boredom, due to a broken van that left us unable to visit even the library, resulted in our older two (10 & 12yrs) painting and building armor out of cardboard boxes. They even helped the neighbor boy build some and can have “sword” fights all day long and guard the castle. :)

  10. 13

    says

    We are on Day 2 (!) of summer vacation and on Day 1 I heard the “B” word. I, too, had the same conversation with my two school-aged children (my toddler knows the drill already). It’s so hard on mamas when you are being blasted everyday with images of 101 things to do in the summer and how to make water parks in your backyard. I am so on board with you!

  11. 14

    Tammy Tubre says

    Yes, life can be boring. Navigating boredom is essential to maturation. As a children’s therapist, I daily deal with the fallout of raising an entitled generation. It is not pretty, I can tell you. A bucket of legos and free time is quite a parental gift. Your parenting habits will make life easier for you, your child, educators, and society. Thanks for the wise words.

  12. 15

    says

    I’ve already warned my children that if they complain too much about being bored, I will find something for them to do: folding clothes, loading the dishwasher, washing windows…. There’s always something to do! ;)

    • 15.1

      Maggie says

      It also works when they don’t want to do homework either!! My son found out one night he would rather do homework than chores!

  13. 17

    says

    I think I will be using that speech to my kids! That is so awesome. I don’t have a plan this summer. I am tired of planning…actually I quit planning a few years ago. But some days I look around at my mother friends, who are running their kids around like crazy women, And I think maybe I am doing it wrong. Maybe I should fill my kids days. Then you remind me that it is entitlement and that is what I am trying to change in my kids. Thanks for the pep talk.

    • 17.1

      Heather S. says

      I love what you wrote here. Comparison is the thief of joy. I, too, look at my friends running the crazy train and think, “do I have this wrong?” But then I realize how miserable we all end up when we “go” at that level and how empty I feel at the end of the day. I realize that God has called my family to live a quieter life and that is where we truly find contentment. And my children, like many others, only get more entitled with the more I do for them/give to them. These pep talks are so good!

  14. 18

    says

    My goal every Summer is to give my children a “1980’s” Summer! When both my mom and dad worked! We HAD to entertain ourselves.
    Mind you, we had cable, but no game systems, or cell phones!
    Somehow….we survived!
    And we learned with the quickness NOT to say that we were bored around my mom. She put us to hard labor! haha! ;)

      • 18.2.2

        Amanda says

        REALLY?! You can’t protect your child from everything…they could get hit by a car while crossing the parking lot at school. Give your kids some credit & don’t shield them from everything…you’re not going to be around to coddle them forever!

      • 18.2.3

        Sonya says

        ” Between 1973 and 1991, seven adults and one teenager reported injuries suffered while using Slip ‘N Slides” – Wikepedia
        Over a 20 year time period there were 8 reported injuries, all to adults and teens (which are recommended to NOT use Slip n’ Slides)
        More kids are injured falling out of trees, down stairs, over their own feet… Our of this great article, all you can come up with is the dangers of Slip ‘n Slides? My kids have pocket knives, my 8 year old daughter got a (real) bow for her birthday, they ride bikes (now there’s some potential for injury).

        This was a great article and a great reminder that we are not helping our children when we do everything for them, including being their imagination and creativity.

  15. 19

    Grandma Kathy says

    I’m with you 150%!!! I am a grandma who homeschools and watches 2 darling girls most days (ages 7 & 9) and this summer I’ve added my 5 yr. old grandson to the mix. We live on a farm so there’s a wide open world out there for them, but they’ve got to use there imaginations. I love this mix of fun and learning I can provide, and time they can learn to fill and enjoy on their own. Thanks for the encouragement!!!

  16. 20

    Lynda says

    Totally agree that they need to use those imaginations & find something to do on their own. My kids know that if they are bored that they should not tell me about it. I started telling them if they were bored then I can give them work to do. They learned quick!

  17. 21

    Emily says

    AMEN! I was just telling a friend the other day that every time I see a perfectly crafted “bored jar” full of activities on Pinterest, I want to scream. We are not doing our kids any favors, people! They need to learn to figure things out on their own.

    • 21.1

      Heather S. says

      I think the same thing when I see these things on Pinterest. Moms are not “fun ship cruise directors.” My mother never had a list or jar of ideas for me when I was a kid. One idea I DO like, though, is have you child create his/her own jar of activities to pull from when they need ideas. They’re using their own creativity ahead of time. :)

  18. 22

    Heather says

    Thank you so much for this post. I needed to read this today. I was just saying to my husband the other night that I don’t remember my mother planning/playing days with us….and she was a great mom!

  19. 24

    says

    Love this! My bored jar is going to have sticks with chores on them!! :) I don’t think it will take long for them to find something to do on their own without me suggesting it!! Either that or I’m going to have a fabulously clean house!! :P

  20. 26

    Jennifer Collins says

    I agree with the entitlement theory. I believe that we need to go a step further and make sure our kids believe that their contributions to our family are important. My kids know that chores are part of the day whether it’s summer or not. Our household needs to continue to function in all seasons. Everyone lives here, therefore everyone has responsibilities. Real ones. I make sure there is plenty of time to have fun and time to learn how to deal with boredom (and get creative :)

    • 26.1

      Chelsea says

      Yes, Jennifer Collins! Chores shouldn’t be regarded as punishment all the time. Each member of the household should contribute according to their abilities. It’s wonderful to watch as children discover they have a knack for cooking, or they actually like to clean, or water plants or do laundry- whatever. Teens and college bound young adults are much more prepared for real life if they start learning young. They won’t always want to do the laundry but they will know how!
      Kristen, your article is great- I remember all the wonderful hours spent exploring and pretending as a child and I wouldn’t have t any other way. Bless you!

  21. 27

    says

    I was just having this same conversation with a friend of mine. I have this overwhelming feeling of mom guilt if I am not constantly entertaining my kids. But, I think back to my childhood and I don’t remember my mom or dad always sitting down to play Barbies or Legos or whatever with me. I had to play by myself or my brothers. I am not sure where the shift happened but somehow being a parent in our current day and age also somehow equates to being a constant source of entertainment for our kids. I have stuff to do and I can’t possibly be there to play 24/7. Thank you for this article!

  22. 28

    KM says

    My kids know that if I hear, “I’m bored!”….they will end up scrubbing grout with a toothbrush.

    The think that helped me the most was the swing hanging from the tree in our yard. My youngest (now going into 4th) has spent hours there. It’s her special spot.

    • 28.1

      Susan says

      When mine are bored I hand them a broom or a rag and have them go to town on my floor or baseboards. Then they can usually find something to do and I can knock a chore off my list. Wish I could take credit for it, but saw it on another blog and it works like a charm.

  23. 31

    says

    Such a fantastic message. I already am telling my almost-kindergartner that she needs to find something to do because I get the “I’m bored” pout as soon as something amazing isn’t planned. We have talked about the same thing…some days are going to be filled with adventure, and some days will just be have your own fun, chill out, and use your imagination (and the bins of toys, craft supplies, games, and am amazing outdoor play set you have). thanks for reminding me that doing “nothing” is ok. Even great!

  24. 32

    says

    My kids are adopted and have trauma (i.e. special needs) from their experiences. I do a lot of the go and do your own thing with them, but it’s harder for them that your average kid. Developmentally they are behind.

    Boredom can actually cause anger and danger in our home.

    I am on the extreme end, but one of the things I do to help them that could help typical kids with this issue is making a loose schedule for the day. I generally make up one for the week or even whole summer.

    It’s not to plan out every second of the day, but only to give them an idea of what is available at what time. Morning- TV for an hour, 9 am outside play time.. etc..

    Doing this gives kiddos a bit of “controlled control”, it makes them feel like they know what is going on and what to expect, kind of like when they are in school. It’s easy to print lists of 100 or 200 ideas of things (just Google it) to do when you are bored for them. Just print it on the back of the schedule and they can refer to it if they are out of ideas.

    This schedule is flexible and I let them know that on days we are doing something else.

    I think sometimes that we expect our kids to understand how to do things that they haven’t really been taught yet. And learning to occupy yourself needs to be taught to many children.

    Things like the schedule help them to do this in a way they feel safe. After a week or even days the schedule becomes routine for kids and they may find it easy to keep from being bored all on their own.

    • 32.1

      Amy says

      I agree with this 100%! I think it can seem like entitlement, but all kids just need to be taught entertain themselves. It’s easy to forget that they have not had as many experiences as we have. Especially when children are used to having instructions for every activity, it can be hard for them realize that they can make their own fun.

    • 32.2

      Karen says

      Amen and amen. I too have “exotic” children who cannot function without some kind of schedule. Totally unstructured free time is dangerous for them and those around them. We have a few times during the day when, for half an hour, you must choose to do something you are allowed to do without asking permission or needing input from an adult. I am expecting it will take the entire summer for some to “learn” how to do this. And then it will be forgotten by next summer. It’s comforting to know I’m not the only trauma drama mama who’s come to the same conclusion. Happy summer!

      • 32.2.1

        Emily Anne says

        Me and my husband are planning to adopt some foster kids along with having our own biological children

        • 32.2.1.1

          Emily Anne says

          Looks like the rest of my comment got chopped off! I was saying: thanks so much for bringing this real life reality to light

    • 32.4

      Kathleen says

      I have a loose schedule for my kids, too. They have workbook time, free time, and chore time set around snack and meal time. We don’t stick to it 100%, but it has made a huge difference in their day. Giving them some structure has actually made them feel more freedom than wondering when one of my whims will come next.

    • 32.5

      Catherine says

      Great point! I think all families benefit from at least a loose routine, even during the summer.

  25. 33

    Christine says

    My problem is that my boys don’t get bored… they FIND things to do. Creative (ie destructive), fun, outside, inside, messy and EXPENSIVE things to do. I have to admit that I feel lucky that they are inquisitive and creative, but WOW, it’s difficult sometimes! “Get off the roof, stop hanging on the trampoline net, stop climbing the shed, WHY did you tear shingles off the shed, why did you use my good [expensive cooking tool] for your ant/spider/worm/slug habitat?!?”… etc, etc, etc. lol. I feel guilty that maybe I am not supervising them enough/providing enough activities for them…

    • 33.1

      Julee says

      My 3 boys are the same way. They don’t get bored either. I live with the constant question hanging aboit “how son will I be making a trip to the ER?” because of their fun escpades.

    • 33.2

      Stephania says

      You instantly made me feel “normal”. LOL!!! Mom of boys here! Did you secretly videotape my life!? Because you quoted me verbatim. LOL ::sigh:: Gotta love our guys!

  26. 34

    Rae says

    This wasn’t just a summer issue for my son. It was weekends, evenings, etc. One night I got feed up and the following happened…

    “Last night, after not being able to get the TV in my room to tune into a show he wanted to watch and I was too busy to stop what I was doing and help, Greg comes to me and says “I’m bored” I look at him and say I’ll give you a billion reasons why you should never be bored in this house.

    I point at the dog and say 1
    I go find the cat and say 2
    I go in his closet and say 3-1 million
    I go in the play room and point to the box of Lego’s and say 1 million to 9,999,990
    Point to the guitar…
    Point to his desk full of paper and crayons…
    Open the closet full of games…
    Point to the air hockey table…

    Then I go back and point to the cat again and say “this is YOUR cat, play with him, pet him, brush his fur!”

    Don’t think I will be hearing the I’m bored comment again for a while.”

    That happened on April 22nd. Needless to say, I have not heard the bored word yet. But when it does rear it’s ugly head I will have him plan the activities for us to do.

  27. 36

    Megan says

    A well worn phrase in our house is “I’m not the entertainment committee”. I totally agree that life isn’t always fun, it’s sometimes boring, and learning to deal with it is a crucial life skill.

  28. 37

    Julia says

    I don’t think my mom ever gave me anything to do other than chores. We were always responsible for our own fun and I don’t remember ever getting bored. We would play with legos, action figures, mini people and houses, but most of all we would turn the space under our bunk bed into a tent and play camping or make forts out of our pillows and couch cushions. The more I watch little kids, the more I’m convinced that most toys are a waste of money. You can find entertainment in so many things. And if you’re having a hard time finding entertaining things to do, you can always get to work. :)

    • 37.1

      says

      “The more I watch little kids, the more I’m convinced that most toys are a waste of money.”
      You nailed it Julia! So often my kids end up playing with the box rather than the toy that came inside the box!

  29. 38

    Justine says

    The reason summer programs and activities are so important is bc there are way too many families that aren’t like this one, and the children get into things they shouldn’t, and before you know it they are teenagers doing drugs and other regretful activities. Kids will definitely find ways to entertain themselves but sometimes their creativity will lead to bad things and that’s why I believe it’s important to provide them with something to do rather then just leave them to their own devices.

  30. 40

    N. Carpenter says

    I needed to read this. I thought from the title that it would be a description of the h-e-double L that summer is for parents. The constant agony, when will school start again. Because for me putting my daughter in camps and things just isn’t and option, not because I can’t afford it but because I only need 15 hours a week and refuse to pay for 30 and be ripped of the time I DO get to spend with her smile she fills the other half. Because I work less than most and she is with her dad on the weekends so I am gone 5 hours 3 days a week while she is here and manage to pull the rest while she’s away. My husband works 3rds and he stays home with her, but he’s tired and boring. And she usually refuses to wake him up for this e 2 hours between her waking up and me coming home. So every day I leave wondering what she may be getting into and how bored she might be. Why? I have NO clue!!! Her room is half filled with barbie nonsense. We have 2 cats AND a dog plus every television option money can buy. She has a tablet we have a laptop. The only thing she can’t do is go outside, but bet your buns when I come home I have to drag her out of the door to get her to play outside. There will be better summers. Ones with a back yard and friends, a little brothers or 2. But for now this is what ya got kid.

  31. 41

    Mellie says

    I am a grandmother, but when my children were children, we had a “bored jar” with activities hidden inside. Often the activity was something like cleaning the bathroom floor with a toothbrush, less often, it was go get an ice cream cone. I was often heard repeating my own grandfather, “intelligent people do not get bored” – translated: “you have a brain for a reason, now put it to good use. ” Both my adult children are extremely creative whose minds often transport them to more exciting climes than where their bodies reside.

  32. 42

    says

    My kiddos are grown but when they were little up until they were teens we made a summer list on the huge chalkboard I put in the living room so they coud pick something off the list when they were bored. They helped think of the things at the beginning of the summer and I added some ideas too. It really helped fill the hours with fun activities and I had the supplies on hand for the little projects etc. because I already knew what the options were. They could pick things that they were in the mood for without my involvement. Some things like go to the zoo or picnic need a mom but usually I prescheduled those. The rest were “self-serve” and kept them focused on something fun in the boring times.

  33. 43

    Amy V says

    It was SO FREEING to me to realize this last summer. And when I begin to feel guilty because my kids are bored, I repeat (to myself) my mantra: YOUR boredom is not MY problem. What a lifesaver this has been for me!

  34. 44

    Heather S. says

    Totally with you. So many of my friends are on the crazy train of constant camps and activities for their kids. I say “No.” My girls actually have three camps this summer. 2 of them are “short” camps, 2.5 hours a day for a week and then one week long Bible camp that goes all day. But that’s it. We homeschool and I like to get school done early, so we actually have an extended summer. My girls get bored sometimes and my youngest (10) will always turn to TV first, but they have to do these things first before screens: complete chores, do something helpful for me or their dad, do something creative, play outside for a minimum of 30 minutes, read for an hour. And some days, I just NO SCREENS period. Creativity is often born from boredom, We don’t even allow our kids to get bored anymore. And I agree…when we do let them, those end up being some of the best days of summer!

  35. 45

    says

    I love this article! I DON’T have to feel guilty if my boys aren’t doing super fun and exciting things every second of every summer day! I love that you pointed out that the best days of summer are the ones that aren’t necessary planned. We recently took our kids to Disneyland and while it was fun, I feel like they had way more fun running around and playing at the pool at the hotel. While we were at Disneyland they kept asking to go make to the hotel. LOVE YOUR POST.

  36. 46

    Marv says

    Wow. I sense alot of multitasking moms that appear to not want to have anything to do with their children. Well, you brought them into this world, and not by their choice. So I’d suggest you figure out something to entertain them, lest they go decide to get into trouble. Cmon moms! Suck it up!

    • 46.1

      Amanda says

      It has nothing to do with too much multitasking or not wanting to have anything to do with them…that is a crazy accusation and a bit offensive, actually! I think most of these moms are trying to teach their children how to be independent. We are moms, not clowns put here to entertain 24/7.

    • 46.2

      Alexandra S. says

      Suck it up?! Suck WHAT up?? It is NOT my job, as a parent, to entertain my children. It is my job to teach them how to think and do for themselves, and become responsible productive members of society. My 4 kids have a few scheduled activities each week that go year-round and plenty of one-time activities scattered throughout the summer. As Amanda mentioned, I am not a clown. And I refuse to become a taxi service for my kids with a full schedule of activities. If my kids are bored occasionally during the summer, oh well. It usually doesn’t last too long. They figure out how to entertain themselves. That’s the point!

  37. 47

    A says

    Balance. That is what I got out of your article. I chose to be home, home educate my 4 kids, so I do have a responsibility to offer child activities. I was a single kid for 9 years, both my parents worked a business next door to our home. They were few times that my parents offered kid related stuff. It was their tv shows, lots of chores on a home based boarding and grooming business. When my sister arrived I was nearly 10& I shared in the take care of the baby or toddler years. I want my children to have a childhood. I had to go find things to do, and was bored a lot. Sometimes I want them to do that, but I also want to be present for my children, not just in the same house but, emotionally, mentally present and engaged in their day. I suggest humbly a schedule . Ugh, but it works. Time to plug into TV, time to go outdoors, time for chores and quiet time in your room unplugged and possibly bored, as well as activities , outings. Etc. my teen this summer is cooking dinner for the family on Wednesdays . I get a break & he learns a life skill. We are trying make it Mondays with my younger 2. We find a messy craft like gak recipe make it and play with it all week. I think there can be room for both, entertain or teach them and give them the space to imagine, create for themselves.

  38. 48

    says

    I am ONE OF THOSE MUMs. When my children *boys age 4.5 and 7* start to go haywire because their planned activities and moments of being entertained like little royalty run out…….I say “go be bored”. I’ve discovered that boredom has a lifespan of approximately 30 minutes. After that creativity tends to usurp the throne and the games begin. Cheers to all of THOSE mums!

  39. 49

    says

    After this weekend helping put on the My Waterloo Days celebration you have NO idea how much I appreciate this article. People keep complaining there was nothing for the kids to do at the Bike Races….except play on the GIANT playground. It’s not just stimulating the kids, parents are expected to be stimulated too. 110% just isn’t enough for some people. Thank you again for coming out and having a table at My Waterloo Days and writing the great article!

  40. 50

    Michelle says

    Thanks so much for this article today! I’m going to steal your speech! With 4 kiddos home for the summer and a little blessing in my belly, I absolutely cannot entertain them every moment of every day. Thank you for relieving the pressure to do so!

  41. 51

    Rachel says

    Goodness alive, thank you for posting this. Today was “everything comes to a head” day at our house. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve said “will you please stop crying about how you can’t do the slip n slide” or “no we cannot go to the water park every day”, I could afford private school education for my overindulged child. I feel like everyone’s child is having a more magical, enriching life than mine and I’m just not creative enough to come up with Mary Poppins-esque travel tours every day. Thank you for reminding me where this is coming from and that I’m not alone!

  42. 52

    Richard says

    Great article. However, about the closing, dads think about these kind of things too. Not just moms. ;-)

  43. 53

    says

    I agree 100%. When moms saturate every moment of our kids’ lives with activities, I think those kids are actually missing out. They need a chance to make forts out of cardboard boxes, pick up a hobby because they were bored, or go climb a tree. Some of the best moments as a kid and some of the best learning experiences happen when they are forced to find their own fun. We mom’s need to let our kids get messy, get frustrated, and get bored now and then so they can become well adjusted, independent, and happy adults.

  44. 55

    Angela Statton-Hunt says

    One word chores. My daughter never tells me she’s bored or doesn’t have something to do, because what I vfind for her to do she’s not going to like doing. Simple n find something to do yhat you consider fun, or I’ll find something for you to do that probably really does need to be done. Has worked since she was able to pick up her own toys around 2 years old.

  45. 56

    Leila says

    Where’s the “LIKE” button? No? No button? Ok, then I am pressing the proverbial “LIKE” button. I have 5 kids 4 of which are in elementary school and then the caboose. My 4 older, especially my oldest, want me to magically creat fun or spend endless amounts of money on camps and entertainment. Today the “I’m board” happened and I told my oldest daughter to go make paper dolls and she just layed on the floor and complained. I didn’t grow up being catered to or having money spent on entertaining me and so now it is my turn to teach my children to be proactive and creative :-).

  46. 57

    M Mangan says

    Bored…no bored here. I never hear the word. We keep busy with lots of camps and play dates for all 4 kids. swimming. And some down time…iPads and TV. But since they are busy…iPads and TV are a treat. We also do tutoring in the summer for my 3 oldest.

  47. 58

    Melissa says

    I feel like I see both sides of the fence here…I was an only child until the age of 8 and I totally had to entertain myself during the summers. The neighborhood kids and I would leave at sun up and play till sun down, I loved the summers! Now I have an only child of my own and live in a neighborhood with no kids her age, so yes, I can send her outside to play but she gets lonely and I can’t always be the entertainment, so yes, I have her in VBS and a Girl Scout camp that is a couple of hours a day for a week and another summer camp for a week, should I feel guilty for this? Because, honestly, I don’t. I know that she will be having way more fun with kids she knows from school and church than being on my hip all summer.

    • 58.1

      Heather S. says

      Don’t feel guilty. What you just described is a balanced approach to summer. There is NOTHING wrong with having some activities planned, I just think she’s pointing out that we do not need to feel like we have to have our kids’ entire summer planned out with entertainment. Summer is a great time for kids to dig into those activities they don’t have that much time for during the school year. And VBS – of course do that if your daughter enjoys it! :)

  48. 59

    HeyJoyous says

    Amen!!

    All you moms with little ones find the book Have Fun, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell to read to your kids! It’s about this exactly. My family loves Molly Lou Melon!

    • 59.1

      says

      I MUST get my hands on this book! Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon is one of my favorite books EVER, but I’d missed the fact that there’s another Molly Lou Melon book! Thanks! :)

  49. 60

    abigail says

    You are SO RIGHT! I’ve been saying that “I am not the Cruise Director” for YEARS but mine (and mine are teens) use the “I am BORED” phrase everyday! Here is what I don’t get…we have a POOL and they have bikes and we are very close to a park and, and, and….

  50. 61

    Sandy says

    I don’t think it’s necessarily about entitlement. It seems that our generation has noticed an increase in entitled attitudes, so we tend to hyper-focus on that and maybe even it has began a “go to” for so many ills.

    Kids get bored because they have not yet discovered to help themselves out of boredom. They aren’t fully developed beings that already know how to use their imaginations, get themselves up, build their own routines, build their own to-do lists and/or figure out that if they are bored they can clean their rooms, help parents, mow the yards, etc. And, it kind of is parents’ jobs to help them discover all this along the way in their development.

    It isn’t new to this generation that kids want The More. Or that they whine about being bored and want to do fun stuff in the summer. They don’t expect to be entertained all the time, but they haven’t found out what to do when there is less ready made stimuli plopped before them. They’re crying out to be shown how to use their heads and make up games, make new friends in the ‘hood, and try new things. A new recipe, designing clothes for their dolls, or rearranging their own space. A local kid in my neighborhood was given some ideas from his parents about how to get “the more” on his own, and then he figured he wanted to start his own “business” so with business cards and all, he pushes his mower around the subdivision and makes a little money.

    I am bored with hearing about entitlement. Let’s do something about it. We parents aren’t activities directors on a cruise ship and we are not martyrs but we are parents and we do have responsibilities even when it isn’t fun for us and it is going to take some effort.

  51. 62

    Jennifer says

    My 8 year old is an only child (not by our choice – we had hoped for 3 or 4) and sometimes I feel bad that she does not have a sibling for a playmate.
    However, she has learned to play very well by herself, and on
    the odd occasion that she utters the “b” word – I have taken to saying “Oh good! That’s when you get your best ideas! Just wait a few minutes and I’m sure you’ll think of something”. It never fails. – and she makes up the most amazing games, crafts etc. etc. – even by herself. Like many of you, I am a big believer in lots of downtime, very little screen time and freedom for children to make up their own fun. Like we had as kids……

    • 62.1

      Ann says

      I have an only as well! And never have any problem with him complaining about being bored, or looking for me to entertain him. He’s always been pretty resourceful. And I’m happy not to have to deal with “summer boredom bickering” I remember with my siblings as a kid!

  52. 64

    Deborah says

    My children are now 34 and 32, some things never change! I had a saying in our home during any school break, ‘the only bored child is a boring child’. It was well known that if I ever had to say that line out loud it would be swiftly followed by directions to some sort of a chore. And I knew which chore was strongly revered by which child! Kids are so smart! They quickly figured it out and played, pretended, read, walked, found playmates, climbed trees, swung on swings, walked the dog, etc. They still talk about my ‘mean mom’ saying, but quickly laugh, as they are both moms now! Moms have far too much responsibility, and ‘cruise director’ is not one of the job descriptions! Enjoy your summer moms, and please don’t allow the ‘b’ word in your home!

  53. 65

    Gweny says

    We found stuff to do in my day.. OMG I know that sounds so old which really I’m not. But we played outside freeze tag, hide and go seek etc. We made forts out of nothing. We nailed skates to a piece of lumber and sat on them while cruising down the hill.. lol. Kids need to learn that that they are fine with out a ton of friends from time to time.. Sometimes having friends over can be a pain with sharing and conflictions too.. I agree with you 100% Jen.

  54. 66

    Kelly says

    Coping with boredom is definitely an important skill to learn. Sometimes it IS about entitlement. Whatever the reason it’s unfair to expect our children to jump right into it after the regimentation of the school year. Somehow, we need to transition them back into taking initiative for their own time management and making good decisions. It’s NOT okay to provide activities SOLELY to keep them out of trouble. “Entertainer” is not in my job description. “Engaging and instructing?” Definitely. Thank you for your speech. Not ashamed to totally plagiarize that one!

  55. 67

    Kerstin says

    I remember glorious summers of being outside and exploring on my bike or just hanging out in my room and reading all day. I am looking forward to the time when my kids are old enough to stay home by themselves during the summer while my husband and I both work full time. So far they are thrilled with the camp experiences they have had – art, photography, music, science, nature, theater, sports, leadership development – all things that I hope I would have a chance to do with them in some form or another if I was home during the day.

  56. 68

    Jen says

    This seems to be a school-induced phenomenon . . . with all their hours scheduled for them, I think it’s hard for school children to transition to independent thought and self-regulation in the summer. John Taylor Gatto writes about this phenomenon — the lack of solitude and time for deep thought among institutionalized children.

  57. 69

    says

    I don’t let my kids get away with telling me they are bored – my 2 older boys who are 25 and 18 tease me about it to this day. My 2 younger boys – 12 and 10 know that it will give them extra chores.
    We do have a rough schedule every day. Some math – to keep skills sharp, some writing – because it’s important, some reading time, some scout stuff, and chores. We do inside and outside chores every day. All of the above things can be done in less than 2 hours – usually 1 to 1 1/2 hours. That leaves the whole rest of the day for playing, swimming, hanging out with friends and some tv or video games. We also occasionally add in the pool, the local amusement park and some vacation time.
    It works for us and has been working since my oldest was in kindergarten. There is still plenty of time for creative imaginative play and some structure. We love it. :)

  58. 70

    Kelli says

    In this day it is common to have extremely scheduled lives often with the majority of the activities centering around our children’s interests. This is not neccessarily a bad thing ( my daughter now 17 is busy with something almost 4 nights a week). But, when she was younger. We really did nothing weekly except church. Occasionally I would offer to play board games or such but she came up with things for herself to do. I don’t think I ever heard the word “bored” from her. I did, however facilitate her interests, like making sure she had paints, clay, jewelry making supplies, scrap fabric ect. This way she didnt need to ask me, she knew what was available to her:)

  59. 72

    Jen says

    My kids are homeschooled and not in tons of activities and I still get the “I’m bored.” comment from time to time. This is how I dealt with it. If I am working and you are bored, then you may work too. My kids learned early on that “I’m bored” got you, please put away the dishes, toys, clean your room, pick up the backyard, go get me the potatoes, etc. I was more than happy to “entertain” them by “allowing” them to help me with whatever work I was doing!

  60. 73

    Jen says

    Fantastic! Every parent this day in age should read this as a great reminder of the importance of helping kids become independent. Having 2 little ones (2 and 4) it is magical to hear them create and use their imaginations daily. The favorite tool for creativity in our house is the laundry basket! Thanks so much for this article! :)

  61. 76

    Elaine says

    We have raised 4 boys – well actually our last is now on his way to his senior yr. The 3 older boys are in the military. Two Marines, one Air National Guard. Ages now 26, 23, 21 and 17. We chose to do the public school but had many friends over the years who home schooled. I’m in favor of both . . . depending on the school, the family, the kids . . . . anyway this is about the word “bored” not about schooling.

    I LOVE Summer. I loved the last day of school and disliked the first day of school. There were many days when I wanted to pull my hair out but I still loved having them home with me for the summer. The word bored started popping up when they were young. It would frustrate me to no end. So the word bored was not aloud to be said. If I heard it you got to go to the “jar” and pull out a piece of paper. You had to do what it said. Could be a chore or a suggested game/activity. So after a few times of this I would start to hear them say “I’m . . . . “but never finish the sentence. They would clamp their little mouths closed and go find something of their own choice to do. I’m not the perfect mom, I have made many mistakes and wish sometimes I could have a do over but I would encourage you all to set the limits on the electronics and let them use their imaginations. I understand girls can lose themselves in crafty things . . . HA our boys were not into this at all. They loved nerf guns, playing in the dirt, hours of legos, riding bikes, imagining they were warriors in their own back yard. We read and read and read some more to our boys when they were little. They learned to love reading – each in his own way. My husband would read the Chronicles of Narnia to them. Yes they were young but they were glued to their dads side and couldn’t wait for the next night and the next chapter. I miss the dirty, smelly boys running into the house, slamming the door, faces flushed, running to get a drink and back outside again. Guess I’ll have to wait for grandchildren to experience this again :)

  62. 77

    Roxanne says

    My sister came up with a great idea for her tween daughters. The “boredom jar”. It is a jar with pieces of paper folded up. On those papers are things like: study civics for one hour, call grandma, read two chapters of a book, clean the bathroom toilet. bake cookies, style mom’s hair, play dress up with mom’s clothes, bake a cake…etc. Whenever my sister hears “I’m bored” they have to pick from the jar!! I thought this was a great idea!! And it’s luck of the draw, they either get something fun or a chore! So beware of saying “I’m bored!”

  63. 79

    says

    when i was a kid and complained about being bored my dad would simply say ‘only boring people get bored’ and that was enough to change my mind-set and off i would go to find an adventure in the backyard, read a book, call a friend or turn the living room into a barbie mansion.

  64. 80

    Meredith says

    Thank you! I’m trying to have a less-planned summer also. We joined our local Y and I’ve taken them swimming a couple of times a week but other than that, we’re just hanging out and doing more at home in our weeks that don’t have camp, vacation, etc. The other thing that makes me crazy is when I tell them we have errands to run and they complain, “Can’t we stay home? Can’t you go to the store after we’re in bed when Daddy’s home? Can’t you just do that later?” I guess I started it, because I enjoy running errands alone and would do them when the kids could stay home with my husband. But I’ve had to tell them that running errands is part of LIFE and no, they don’t get a trip to Chuck E Cheese or wherever just because they ENDURED a trip to the grocery store with me.

  65. 82

    says

    Preach!! My daughter just got back from church camp on Saturday, and she has already been trying to get me to pack every second with awesomeness just like at camp. Hoping she floats back down to reality soon ;) I totally agree…our kids NEED to be bored, so they can use the imaginations God gave them! It’s so freeing when you realize you’re job is not activity coordinator!

  66. 83

    Darcy de Vénus says

    None of you have tried to teach school in Asia. I live in Taiwan as an English Teacher. It is my job and my responsibility to make sure the kids have fun. We do mostly. But that’s not the point.

    Taiwanese children rarely have more than 7 hours of sleep. There are many who are in school up until 9pm at night. Then, they have to go home, do their homework. They go to bed by 11-12 midnight.

    The biggest difference that I see between American children and Taiwanese Children (as an aunt and a teacher), is that American kids are encouraged to go out and explore. Children in Taiwan are taught by their Chinese teachers, very early on. From possibly 3 or 4, not to ask ‘outside the box’ question. This is very sad, I just wish they could have the summer like those described in the comments above.

    They’re good kids though. I love my students. A lot of them would love to go to America for school too. They really would have a shock if they did as well.

  67. 84

    Nicole says

    Sounds like my house. We are in our second week and this week is our VBS. But week one was rough. My daughter always wanted me do something with her. she just completed Kindergarten and I am aware that her brain needs to be challenged but I only have so much up my sleeve. Or my ideas get shut down with: Nah, I don’t want to do this. When I was a kid, I found something to play myself whether it was coloring, crafting , legos, or dolls. I hope we will get into the groove of summer and that she will understand that summer is also there to relax to have those empty days to wind down.

    Have a wonderful summer all.

  68. 85

    says

    This sounds good in theory, and as an adult I’m in total agreement — but my kids have just not been able to master it. I feel an overwhelming sense of guilt. They (over)react by tearing through the house, screaming. I find myself regretting not signing them up for swim team — not because I give a patootie about swimming, just as an “activity” (not the right reason to join a team, IMO, they’re not babysitters). All I’ve felt so far this summer is their not-so-subtle message that I’ve failed.

    • 85.1

      says

      When I say running around screaming, I mean in “play,” not in terror or anger. LOL that sounded odd when I read it back. I meant to say they are full of playground energy at 7am.

  69. 86

    says

    Great article! Thank you for sharing this with us. You are so right on this, it is rampant! I don’t really consider ourselves lucky, but we don’t have extra money to spend to make a summer fun like you mentioned–still trying to get on our feet, but I STILL do hear that little whiny voice of I’M BORED. Of all my 5 kids, it is my 2nd grader who moans about his boredom–it’s also that age stage, I’m afraid.

    What do you think?

    Here is a great site of 33 affordable activities: http://www.buzzfeed.com/mikespohr/activities-that-will-keep-your-kids-busy-all-sum

    A to Z co-host

  70. 87

    says

    Thank you for writing this! Such a perfect reminder of how to teach our children not to sit back and be entertained…and to be patient when they need reminding. I’m so quick to blow up when they say they are bored and we have a house full of toys, craft supplies, etc… Instead I need to sit back and remind them (and myself) we are all learning to be patient and content. This totally hit home!

  71. 89

    Tam says

    I let my kids choose 2 camps each summer. They also spend one week on their Grandma’s farm (thanks, Mom!). For several years we have had the rule that there will be some sort of outing or planned activity on Fridays, such as the zoo, amusement park, movie, etc. The rest of the days are theirs to fill with reading, crafts, games, and friends. This has made for relatively sane summers for the last few years. However, my oldest is now 14. I’m a little less agreeable to her leaving the house to “just hang out with her friends”. This is when the trouble can brew, so I am a little more into the organized activities with her and her friends. I am off for the summers because I am a teacher, while many other moms work full time. That’s just the way it is. That makes for a lot of unsupervised teenagers with a lot of unstructured time. I have taken to structuring her day first with some household responsibilities and some planned family-only time, and then some planned and supervised activities with her friends. I am not willing to just let her and her friends use their “creativity” to find something to do, because it might not be a good choice. Thanks, Kristen, for an excellent blog!

  72. 90

    Angela says

    Wow! Women can be so darned nasty to each other! I refuse to homeschool my kids. I wish they had school year around, because I can’t stand to be home with them more than a few days at a time. Why can’t we just be honest? I am not afraid to admit that my kids drive me crazy and I can’t wait for them to go off to college. I have one there already and really enjoy her now. The other two (ages 10 & 12) can’t get there fast enough. I love them dearly, but heavens do they grate on me. Whew! Felt good to be honest and get that off my chest.

    • 90.1

      Heather S. says

      What I find interesting about your comment is a strange phenomenon in parenting. I find that the less time I spend with my kids the more they get on my nerves when I am with them. The more time I spend with my kids the more “in the groove” I get with being around them and we all sort of mold to one another.
      And then sometimes I find that some parents have children, but genuinely struggle to like children in all of their childishness. I’m not sure which is the situation for you, but I personally have found that it’s best not to wish any time away with my kids and appreciate every day I have with them because it is all a gift of grace from the Lord that I have them at all.

  73. 91

    roxy says

    Amy….grow up… God help your kids… They have to spend all day with a narrow minded person who thinks her ways and her opinions are the only correct way to live….lord.. Lol

  74. 92

    Lizzy says

    We are RIGHT there with you! “I’m bored, Mom.” Endless desire for some device or other form of planned entertainment. My summers were NOT like that. Thank you for this article! I’m not just a crazy mean mom. It’s how kids learn to use their imaginations!

  75. 93

    says

    Oh I love this post! I have been so worried about the summer holiday with my 4 (nearly 5) year old! (last year, before he started full time school, I ended the holiday in complete exhaustion and sooo stressed out!) I have been googling and searching for things to do, places to go and things to make…this is like a breath of fresh air!! I’m going to take those words and put them to good use! Thank you sooo much! I think now, I’m not going to stress as much and allow some ‘free’ days, without feeling guilty!

  76. 94

    says

    Absolutely! I always feel like I’m channeling my mother when I repeat her words, “only boring people get bored, go find something to do” but 7 and 6 yos still look at me cross-eyed but they are learning that games can be more fun when they go outside and make them out or treasure hunt in the playroom without me. Great advice.

  77. 95

    Susan says

    I guess that makes me the mean mom. Because my 5 year old already knows that the word bored equals chores. None of my kids (that are 15,13, and 5) use that word. My kids have sports stuff to do all summer. My oldest plays football and basketball, so he has conditioning and open gyms to attend. My middle plays softball and has double headers twice a week and plays in a few tourneys on weekends over the course of the summer. And my youngest is doing swim lessons. Beyond that, they have at least one chore to do every day, and then they are allowed to go have fun. So they cherish that time when they don’t have to do anything and can make up their own summer fun. I never hear that word.

  78. 96

    says

    So true!
    Last weekend, my daughter and her friends did a little “tough mudder” in our backyard and afterwards we had to hose them down to get them somewhat clean again.
    You don’t get that kind of fun just sitting inside with the A/C on watching something on TV. :)

  79. 97

    Don C. says

    I’m not a mom, but I’m with you. My aunt told her girls that “Smart people don’t get bored.” I’ve shared that little “blessing” with my sons. :) I haven’t heard it this summer…yet. Hopefully we won’t.

  80. 98

    Jenna says

    Thanks for taking the guilt away. I was actually just going to sit down and make a list of things I could do with my step kids when they come to our house every week. I will still go with some of the things on the list, but after reading your article I can be ok with the idea that I am not the party entertainer. :)

  81. 99

    says

    We got out of school on Friday. We quite literally have no money to spend on fun, extra things this summer after having to replace both of our cars this spring. We aren’t even traveling to visit my parents as we usually do (and fortunately they are coming here, so we still can see them). My kids spent the first couple days asking me to take them places like the zoo and the pool (all places that cost money) or to buy lunch out or buy a treat.

    Yesterday, I told them that they are not to ask me to do anything that costs money or buy them anything this summer. If they do, they will have to sit on their bed for an hour. I also told them I will not entertain them this summer. In past years, I have often made up all sorts of learning activities and boredom buster lists for them to look at. I am overwhelmed by life this year and didn’t get to it. So I told them that they need to make up their own fun stuff and that we will not be spending any money this summer. They can have access to things we already own (like their bikes, water buckets, sponges, etc.).

    The only thing we are doing is daily reading and music practicing. They are required to read for 30 minutes every day, and we usually do this together during the baby’s morning nap. They are also each required to practice their instrument. They have to do this to earn screen time, as I refuse to allow them to play video games or watch TV and movies all summer. And once that screen time is done (30 minutes/day for each), they have to come up with something else to do.

    Today, it rained all day and they spent the whole day making origami Star Wars figures and playing dress up. Even the 11-year-old boy joined in the fun. It’s amazing what they will come up with when you put your foot down and refuse to be their entertainment.

  82. 100

    Dawn says

    Thank you for this post. As a new single mom, I’m bombarded with all the stuff they “could be” doing at dad’s. I’m constantly torn between trying to provide disney and just catching up on much needed cleaning. The pressure is great. As I navigate these waters to find a balance for me and my children (preteen and teen), I just need to be reminded, “It’s ok to not have activities everyday. Find a balance.” Thank you. I really needed that.

  83. 101

    Whitney says

    I used to hear the ‘b’ word daily – especially since this was our first year homeschooling. My teen no longer tries it, my 7 YO rarely uses it, and my 3 YO has taken to using it much less frequently. When we hear “I’m BORED!” I respond with, “Well, that’s a choice you can make…..” My kids have mostly simply discovered a magical love of reading to dispose of the empty hours. Which is, of course, exactly what I was hoping for. Well, I was hoping they’d clean house. Love of reading comes in second…..

  84. 103

    Mary D says

    I am soooooo with you! I absolutely loved your post. I surprised my kids with a trip to Disney World the day after I got out of school! (I’m a teacher.) I felt when we returned my kids expected me to have a plan every day. I read your post and thought “Somebody understands me. Somebody else gets it!” I should not have to entertain my kids every day. They should entertain themselves. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much for your post. It is so nice to know that I am not alone and it is okay for my kids to entertain themselves.

  85. 104

    says

    My kids know that the shortest distance between chores and themselves is to say, “I’m bored.” When it slips out, oh so rarely now, I squeal with joy and say, “I’m sooooo excited! Let’s see, there are dishes to put away, your bed to make, weeds to pull…” The immediately turn about face and say, “Oh, oops, I mean I need to ride my bike!” and within seconds they’ve headed out the door.

  86. 105

    says

    Yes, yes, YES!!! I’ve never bought into the idea that I have to make everything super fun for my kids. I do not exist solely for their entertainment, transportation, and eating pleasure. I am not a circus, a movie theater, a restaurant, or shuttle service. I am a mom. I am a person. My kids are people, too, and they have to make their own fun. They have to play independently. I can’t tell you how many moms I see at playdates who sit down and play with their kids the whole time – I have drunk countless cups of tea on someone’s living room floor, watching my kids play while the other adults in the room do everything for and with their school-age children. Aren’t playdates made so that kids will entertain each other? Same with summer. I work full time (more than full time, really) from home, and my kids have to entertain themselves. They have to go outside and play with friends. They have to turn on the TV all by themselves and choose their own programming. They have to get their own markers and paper and books and scissors and glue and use them independently. And as a result, they ARE independent. And creative. And brilliant and happy and healthy and active. They expect that very little will be simply handed to them or done for them, and have little sense of entitlement. In short, they’re kids.

  87. 106

    Paula Contreras Alvano says

    I am SO with you! My stomach turns when my children act like it’s all about them, and trust me, it happens. I have to remind them more than I would want to, that, well, it’s NOT ALL ABOUT YOU ALL THE TIME. We are raising kids who THINK they are entitled to everything just for being them. I see it all the time, everywhere. The sense of entitlement kills me. I love my kids more than anything in this world, and would do everything and anything to protect them, care for them, guide them, encourage them, help them… but there is a fine line between LOVE and raising a bratty child who has just been given everything just because. I would do everything in my power to ensure they have everything they need, and thankfully they do (I feel very blessed for this) and while I often hope I could give them more, do more, I then look at them… and you know what? They are pretty happy, fabulous kids. They are pretty happy with what they have and what they do. There is little to no compaining or whining about what they don’t have, want or should have, because well, just because. And as it is, my kids are the Type A overachiever kind… always running around from school to one activity and another activity, then thankfully are pretty well liked, have friends, and are little social butterflies, which is great. So, it is a welcome break in my house, and we all enjoy it. Even them, and I guess mostly me… ;) I was also pretty burnt out tin the May/June timeframe there… The first summer I decided no camps (prices were soaring and I wasn’t so sure I was getting the bang for my buck), it was like a sword went through my heart. Guilt, sentiments of “will they be OK” and “is this the right thing to do?” Now, I would not have it any other way. We are all happy, relaxed, my kids creativity is higher then ever (my 6 year old wants to build a robot, my 12 year old has become EXTRA helpful at home)- and the perk: they get to sleep in, I come home and am constantly surprised with the activities they created, invented, conversations that happen and of course, play by play narratives of the awesome World Cup matches (which I also love and don;’t mind). Hard to believe their brains are going to rot because they’re watching one too many soccer games every four years! ;) As a Mother, you do what works for you and what workd best for your kids. I’m happy to have found exactly what that is. Summer BREAK. Love it!

  88. 107

    says

    I 100% agree with all you are saying…except that I don’t think it’s either specific to this generation, nor our fault….I think it’s a normal kid thing. I remember saying the same thing as a kid (and I had two working parents who definitely didn’t consider it their job to entertain us), and hoping that our babysitter or a parent would entertain us. Eventually my sister and I (or a friend and I) would find something to do.

    So, I think we can cut ourselves and our kids a little slack here. From where I sit, this is an age-old problem our kids get to tackle as we did (at least if we don’t over-schedule them they’ll get to tackle it), and that we get to tackle as our parents did. Cheers!

  89. 108

    steve says

    This is still handholding her, probably with the impulse of removing her confusion and mental discomfort by, again , “providing” mental context.

    How about just let her be bored. It’s her problem, not yours. It’s her life, not yours.

    She’s resourceful enough to come up with something if truly left to her own devices.

  90. 109

    says

    Such a great article! I’m actually ok with my children being “bored”. I’m not ok with them telling me. :-)

    I was just telling my children this week the reason they’re so bored. They have nothing productive to do. We homeschool, and I find that during the school year they find lots of things to do (especially when they SHOULD be doing their school work.) So I’m going to give them some productive work, and encourage them to plan some things as well. Personally, I get bored after a few weeks of summer if I don’t have something productive to do.

    I want my kids to use all of this unstructured time to accomplish their own goals, have fun, talk to friends, use their imagination, read…. There are so many things they like to do, or want to learn to do. Summers are great for pursuing interests, and exploring. And for swimming !!!!! Texas is super HOT!

    Anyway, thanks for the article!!!!!

  91. 110

    says

    I want to be with you. I really, really want to be. My kids are relentless though. I wait for them to go find something, but they will hang around me whining about their boredom for literally an hour or more until I get angry and yell or give in and take them somewhere to make it stop. I feel guilty all the time for trying to work or do anything while not either letting them watch TV or play iPad. I don’t know how to change it!

  92. 111

    says

    Every time she says she has nothing to do, I list at least ten toys/activities the kiddo hasn’t played with recently. She generally storms off in a huff to her room where she ends up entertaining herself for quite a while.

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