Summer is just starting here in New York and my family already has a pretty packed calendar. Little day trips, small vacations, a few day camps, some family goals we are working towards. Stuff like that.
But sprinkled in with all the vacation plans will be housework days, or days when I’m too tired to keep moving along. These are the days when the boys will want to veg out in front of the TV. Not that that is a bad thing, but I would prefer they did something else – and I really don’t want to have to play with them (there, I said it.)
This post contains affiliate links. This means I receive a small commission to keep this blog going, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using this link.
Is Boredom Really a Bad Thing?
Before I share with you my trick to keep kids busy, I need to say that I don’t believe our job as a parent is to entertain our children. I have to remind myself of this when my four year old asks me to play for the millionth time and I refuse, then feel guilty.
Boredom is actually good for kids. It cultivates creativity and motivation. When my boys are left alone together they build forts, or create Imaginext worlds in the basement. Boredom also helps kids to reflect on what is going on in their life and put things into perspective.
Frankly, kids probably need more boredom now days.
But if you are at the end of your rope, and feel like you just need the kids to leave you alone, what I am going to share will give you some relieve.
How to Create a “Boredom Jar”
Going through all my kids toys one day, I felt frustrated and sad with how little they played with some of them. I love checklists, and structure. I thought about creating something that would direct the kids to a certain activity that involved their toys.
Then, after watching a Youtube video from mother of six, Jordan Page, I came up with the idea of creating a “Boredom Jar” for the kids. If the kids are bored, then they pick an activity out of the jar.
You can put this together however you choose, but I’m sharing what I have done.
Step #1: Gather Supplies
I purchased some jumbo popsicle sticks form Wal-Mart for around $2.50. If you don’t feel like hunting these down, you can get them on amazon here.
So technically, I don’t use a jar to hold the sticks. Originally I was going to use a cute mason jar. But then I decided that picking up broken glass all over the place would really defeat the purpose of the Boredom Jar… A plastic cup that came in a Happy Meal from McDonald’s seems to do the job just fine.
The last thing you need is some sort of pen. I have these really great Sharpie fine point pens that I use for almost everything.
Step #2: Create Your List of Activities
My objective for the Boredom Jar was to have my kids use some of their toys/crafts that they don’t normally gravitate towards. Make sure the activities are ones that your child can do with minimal (preferably none) assistance from you.
I also make sure the Jar contains activities that aren’t part of their daily “to-do’s”, like reading or playing outside.
Here are a few examples of what I have in our Jar:
- Drawing Book
- Little People
- Magic Kit
- Animal Kingdom
- Nerf Gun Fort
The Jar gives the kids just enough direction, but doesn’t tell them what to do with the toys or craft. This way they can still use their own imagination.
My intent with this is not only to give the kids something to do, but also to push them towards using all of the toys we have collected over the years. It brings happiness to me knowing they are using them.
You could even create the activities with the assistance of your child. Ask them for some ideas of what they could do if they are bored. They’ll probably think of somethings you wouldn’t have.
Step #3: Write the Activities on the Popsicle Sticks
Use a sharpie to write the activities on the popsicle sticks – I’m sure this doesn’t need more explanation.
Step #4: Put it To the Test
Place the sticks in the jar. Pretty self-explanatory, I know.
Boredom Be Gone
Remember, don’t guilt yourself into thinking you have to entertain your kids all summer. Sure, it’s a great time of year to visit the zoo or an amusement park, go swimming or hang out at the playground.
But you are also allowed to have some downtime. Use the Boredom Jar to avoid hearing, “I’m bored!” and to get some time to yourself. You will find me using this jar when I want to cuddle up on the couch with my iPad and watch the latest RHONY.
Let Me Know How You Use the Boredom Jar!
My kids have actually asked if they could pick something out of the Jar without me even having to mention it. They really love the surprise of not knowing what they will get. I love seeing them pick something, then move right along to playing independently with what they chose.
Let me know in the comments when you will be using the Boredom Jar? And what is your favorite way to keep the kids busy when you just need some time alone?
If you found this idea helpful, please share with others using the buttons below.