Any parent that has a child who can speak has heard the familiar phrase, "i'm bored!" The first thing a parent might think is "I wish I had time to be bored!" and an easy response could be, "go play." Then you might get a dreaded retort such as, "there's nothing to play" or "I played everything already." This scenario is frustrating for sure. What is a parent to do when faced with these words?
Here are four easy responses:
- "Let's do something together...any ideas?" Sit down and create a list together that you store in a special place just for moments like this. Then do one or two! Some creative ideas are - Create a joke book. Build a fort. Bake. Make a card for a loved one and send it. Brush the dog. Color in a coloring book. Play hopscotch inside or out. Make and fly paper airplanes. Write a story together. Play dress up. Play cards.
- "What are you passionate about right now? What has been lighting you up and making you excited?" Explore some topics in school or recent hobbies that have interested your child and see if you can create something around this topic together. Perhaps you research the topic online and find out some new information. Or you check out some cool places to visit in keeping with the theme. Allow your child to fantasize about his or her passion and see how you can make it come to life together.
- "Let's read or listen to an audiobook." Have a favorite on hand for just this occasion. Read a page or two everyday so that your child stays engaged in the storyline and interested in what happens next. If you are doing something around the house, your child can read to you or you can listen to the book together. After you have read, start a dialogue with your child about what just happened or what he or she will happen in the story next. This will continue creative thinking and exploration and will be a bonding exercise as well.
- "Let's listen to some music. We can also make a playlist together for when we have downtime like this again." Have your child select some music and you can listen to it together. Dance around the house - your own private dance party. Pick some songs from your childhood and share them. Tell stories about when and where you first heard the song and what special memories it evokes for you. Give your child a peek into your history and create some new memories together.
Even if your child is a teenager, he or she can benefit from feeling bored once in a while. Perhaps this will be an opportunity to appreciate the down time with less responsibility or pressure. If your child still says, 'I'm bored" however, challenge him or her to come up with some creative solutions with you. Both of you might be surprised what comes up!