Friday, May 18, 2012

Oh, You're Bored, Are You?

Summer vacation starts next week.  Adelaide has a half-day Thursday, then she's all mine for three whole months.

I can tell other children are also on the brink of freedom; Pinterest is full of fun summer activities for kids.  There are some really good ones on there.  There are also some not so great ideas.

One that I keep seeing goes by several different names, but the most popular appears to be "The Bored Jar."  The description usually reads something like, "The answer to all those times your kids come to you saying they're bored!  100 amazing fun educational activities printed on slips of paper!  Just have your child pull one out when they're bored and let the fun begin!!!"

So here's my question:  Who's brilliant idea was it to start rewarding kids for whining?

I realize that the jar is not for whining; it's for boredom.  But when was the last time a kid came up to you and said, "Pardon me, but I find myself with nothing to do at this moment.  Could I possibly infringe upon your boundless creativity to find something for me to do, please?"

No, they say, "I'm boooooooored!" in the whiniest, most annoying voice possible.

I believe that with kids, "I'm bored" directly translates to "Entertain me."  And guess what?  It is not your job to entertain your children.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm a huge advocate for spending lots of time getting down on the floor and playing with your kids, and you know how I feel about books.  I feel like every family should have stacks of them throughout the house, just waiting to be read intermittently throughout the day.

But you should not have to fill every moment of every day with some super-fun interactive experience specifically designed for your child.  Kids need time away from adults to exercise their imaginations and learn how to do things for themselves.

I suggest you do what my mom did when summer vacation lost its luster for my sisters and me, and we were tempted to let the "B" word slip.  In our house, the merest hint of the word "bored" immediately resulted in an extra chore.  "Bored" meant folding an extra load of laundry or organizing a kitchen cabinet or picking bag worms off the trees.

So go ahead.  Make a special jar.  But please don't fill it with things like "Paint a masterpiece!" or "Have a water balloon fight!"  Fill it instead with "Scrub the toilet," or "Turn over the compost heap."

Now that's my kind of Bored Jar.


21 comments:

  1. I knew that our moms spent waaaaayyyyy too much time together. We had the same consequences when we said the "B" word too.

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    1. But look at what AMAZING adults we've turned into because of them.

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  2. Are bag worms those things we had to pick off the pine trees? I remember Kelli telling me that if one of those got into your skin, you'll bleed to death. Which in turn made me hate picking those things off. And also taught me to never tell mom I was bored.

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    1. Hahaha! I'm pretty sure that's one of the many things Kelli made up. I swear, every time you say something about our childhood, I realize how tormented you were. Poor Steph.

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  3. Oh, what an imagination you have! I don't remember saying that... but I do remember Barney's evil twin that lived on the bottom of Table Rock Lake. Sooo maybe your bagworm story is plausible.

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    1. Seriously, where was I for all this?

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  4. I agree! I've been looking for some fun summer entertainment and thought the same thing....Bored never meant anything good was going to happen in our house!

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  5. Preach it sister! I agree wholeheartedly. I have no tolerance for "the 'B' word". And I love the idea of filling a jar with jobs to combat it--chuckle.

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    1. I'll probably never get around to making an actual jar- although an actual physical reminder like that might not be too bad.

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  6. Honestly, I don't understand what the big deal is. Some kids do great with free time. They'd be happy to have time away from adults to exercise their imaginations. But some kids crave a little more structure. I think a jar like this, whether you call it a bored jar or something else, might just be a way for them to get a bit of the structure they crave without bugging an adult endlessly about how they have nothing to do. I know as a kid I would have loved knowing I could go to the jar for an idea for a fun activity.

    I do understand your point. No one wants a whiny little kid on their hands complaining of boredom. But I don't see these jars as a reward for that behavior. I see it as a way to head it off before it even starts.

    But then again, I sort of do think it's my job to keep my kids happy, educated and entertained.

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    1. I agree with you to a point. I want to keep my kids happy, educated and entertained but I also want them to learn to be self-reliant. If I entertain them every time they are bored, what will they do when there is no one to entertain them? What kind of trouble will they find if they haven't practiced finding healthy ways to amuse themselves? Kids who crave structure need this even more than those who don't because life isn't always structured. Just my opinion.

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  7. My mom did the same thing. Also did it when we bickered or fought with each other. Chores included polishing silver, pulling weeds, shelling pecans, deep cleaning anything and even helping neighbors do stuff.

    It is not my job to entertain my son. It is my job to encourage and show my son how to entertain himself. That does not mean providing all the ideas for him though.

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    1. Oh, I love the idea of having them help the neighbors with their chores, especially in the summer, when there's so much yardwork for everyone to do. Excellent...

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    2. I never got the "shell the pecans" chore - my mother knew I'd eat them all and then be sick. but that definitely would've been better than clean the bathroom.

      oh - and yes I agree, we should be teaching our kids to entertain themselves, not relying on us.

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  8. My dad still tells me (and I'm 40), "Boredom is the ultimate self-indulgence". In other words, go find something to do kid before I find something for you. I agree completely. Do we really want to raise kids who need someone else to entertain them rather than finding something to do themselves. Even kids who crave structure need to learn how to manage unstructured time themselves. I say this as someone who thrives upon structure.

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    1. My oldest also loves a structured environment, and I think it helps her to know that each and every time she says she's bored, I give her work to do. She knows what to expect from me, and kids seem to crave that kind of stability.

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  9. When my kids come to me for entertainment, I tell them "I am not your Cruise Director". Okay, the oldest is 13 and they have no clue about "Love Boat" references, but it confuses them enough that they wonder off wondering what the heck am I talking about.

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    1. Hahaha- I may have to start using that. "I'm not your Cruise Director- now go weed the garden."

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