I’m not a parent, but I worked in education for four years. In middle school I started babysitting. Now I have three nephews, a niece, and I work in an adolescent behavioral health unit. My sister refers to me as the child whisperer and people tell me I have the patience of a saint. While the limits of my patience is quite impressive, there is one thing that will test how far I can go.
Two simple words: I’m Bored!
Growing up, I knew that if I couldn’t think of something to do, my parents would find me something. I knew whatever they came up with would involve dust rags, the vacuüm cleaner, piles of laundry, or yard work. The words “I’m bored” never entered my vocabulary. That’s not to say I never experienced boredom. I did, however, I didn’t seek someone’s direction for what to do with myself.
I also never escaped housework by keeping myself busy. We had chores and responsibilities that most of my friends didn’t have. My parents instilled a solid work ethic in us, but I also learned to appreciate my downtime. Not only did I learn to appreciate it, I learned how to use it productively.
Why “I’m Bored” Annoys Me
Maybe annoy is not the right word. “I’m Bored” frustrates me. That’s a better way of putting it. When someone utters I’m bored, I’m okay with that. When they continue to complain of boredom and refuse to do anything about it, I no longer hear I’m bored. I hear I’m lazy. In fact, back in high school I wrote an extensive essay on Why People Who Bore Easily are Boring People. I wish I knew where I put that.
The boys I watch are learning not to use I’m bored with me. In fact, a while back I made them sit down and list their favorite things to do for all those I’m bored moments. Kids are clever, though. They now use the line “What can we do?” I know that they are hoping I’ll say: “You can play with your electronic devices until your thumbs are permanently stuck in the gadget position.”
Unfortunately for them, this doesn’t happen.
So, I Got Bored One Day
Kids need boredom. Boredom turns into curiosity, which leads to great things. Some of my greatest stories begin, “So, I got bored one day…”
So, I got bored one day and jumped out of my bedroom window and knocked on the font door to confuse my mom. I continued jumping out of my first floor bedroom window until the neighbor told me to knock it off.
So, I got bored one day and decided to train for a marathon. That was an epic fail, but how many people can say they hitchhiked and took a nap during a marathon?
This one time I got bored and bought a guitar. It was boredom-turned-curiosity which became two CDs and countless gigs.
One day when I was bored I started learning sign language. Three years later, I was a licensed interpreter.
I love the idea of keeping an “I’m Bored” activity list. Another idea is writing all of your “I’m Bored” activities on popsicle sticks and when the kids need something to do, have them pick from the sticks. With enough practice, they may not even need the prompts because they will have created their own repertoire of favorite things to do.
Here is my list of things I put on my “I’m Bored” list:
50 Boredom Activities
- Play guitar
- Read a book
- Go to the public library
- Take a walk
- Play with my camera
- Write in my journal
- Try a new recipe
- Go to Barnes & Noble
- Watch a documentary
- Board Games
- Continue writing my book
- Find new music to listen to
- Write a thank-you note to someone
- View Photoshop and Lightroom tutorials
- Browse Pinterest
- Do some organizing
- Go to Riverside Park and walk around
- Go to All Glazed Up and paint some pottery
- Clean my car
- Write poetry
- Check out a live music venue
- Take a drive
- Clean up my e-mail (seems never-ending)
- Crossword puzzles
- Go to Michael’s or Hobby Lobby for ideas
- Window shopping
- Shop for upcoming birthdays
- Make a to-do list
- Sharpen my colored pencils
- Cut out magazines and play with Mod Podge
- Make new playlists in iTunes
- Color with my freshly sharpened colored pencils
- Watch a movie
- Go to a movie
- Figure out more Apples to Apples Writing Prompts
- Browse Craigslist
- Go get a pedicure
- Look through old photographs
- Make designs using the Studio App
- Plan my Las Vegas trip
- Wrap up unfinished projects
- Alphabetize stuff
- Go have a cake pop because somewhere, someone is celebrating their birthday
- Study for the GRE <– no rush on this one
- Play Spider Solitaire
- Sit at a coffee shop and watch people
- Do some “professional development” reading