Mom, I’m Bored.

Mom, I’m BORED.

Oh to have the luxury of boredom. Because boredom is indeed a luxury. I don’t remember the last time I was bored.

But my kids. Oh they do get bored.

Mom, I’m BORED.

If only I had a nickel . . .

I’m convinced that the reason kids get bored nowadays is because we don’t expect enough of them. I love reading historical fiction because when it’s done right, it gives me a glimpse into the lives people led in other times and places. In the Wilderness Series that I recently read, only the extremely wealthy had the luxury of boredom. Everyone had work to do from the time they were old enough to walk.

But nowadays are kids are so coddled, they rarely have enough responsibilities to keep them busy. Instead, they putter around the house, alternately complaining of boredom and begging to watch TV.

And speaking of TV and video games. It’s like the more they watch, the more they want. I have a theory about that. I think this modern medium has practically crippled young minds so that they cannot occupy themselves without being entertained. Again, back to my reading of historical fiction. Kids played with anything and nothing, all. day. long. They found stuff to do.

Mom, I’m BORED.

I have a friend who always says she doesn’t allow her kids to be bored. She gives them a chore when they say they’re bored. That usually shuts them up, she says. Easier said than done, I say. Then I have to supervise said chore.

Mom, I’m BORED.

Maybe I should send them off to farm camp for the summer. Is there such a thing? There should be.

How do you combat boredom at your house? Do you allow your kids to be bored? Do you put them to work? Give them a chore? Kick them out of the house? Or let them watch TV?

Mom, I’m BORED.

Really? Cause I’m sure not!!

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37 Responses

  1. Great post!
    I’m sure every mother battles boredom (their children’s that is).
    Four years ago we disconnected the television (we do have a TV for videos) and we have no video game console. We have a huge yard, we have a trampoline and we have a sports court – each day my kids get sent outside (after chores, reading and workbook), not to return until sunset. My kids seldom complain of boredom – the kids who complain of boredom are their friends that come over and discover there is no Wii or TV and immediately whisper to my kids, “your house is boring”.

  2. Whenever my brother and/or I complained about being bored, my mom would tell us to find something to do or she would find something for us to do. When Mom found something for us to do it ALWAYS had to do with cleaning. We weren’t allowed to watch TV during the day except Saturday morning cartoons or at night with my parents and video games were non-existent. With Mom’s option to combat boredom, we ALWAYS found something to do whether it was with stuffed animals, playing school or post office, playing with cars in the dirt outside, a board game, coloring, or whatever. As a kid ANY thing was better than cleaning. =)

  3. Seriously. My husband and I have talked about sending the kids off to work on a farm all summer. Sounds perfect to me!

  4. My kids are 4 and 6. We’re really limited the amount of TV they watch during the summer because it seems that the more they watch TV the more we hear how bored they are. Granted where we live there is no guarantee that the weather is going to cooperate but it really is a motivator to get me off my duff and make plans to not only entertain them for me as well.

  5. Honestly, I pretty much ignore the I’m Bored comments. If the kids persist, I give them a job helping with the garden produce; I’m up to my eyeballs in tomatoes and peaches right now. Sometimes I make a suggestion about getting out a board game.

    My parents never entertained us. I don’t remember being bored in the summer. In fact, I looked forward to summer because it meant Charlestown Day Camp which was lots of fun.

    1. Yeah. I do NOT entertain. LOL. To a fault, probably. Next year I might try to save up and do more camps. They really enjoy them, and I enjoy the time to work without whining! lol

  6. I’m another mom whose response to boredom is assigning chores. We also limit computer games to 20 minutes a day per child and no television on a regular basis. So far this summer, they’ve managed to entertain themselves pretty well by reading books, lots of pretend play, using arts and crafts supplies, etc.

    1. I was better about restricting TV and video last year, and I recall that it went well. I think we actually turned the TV off entirely for a month or so, and it was heavenly. Perhaps I should try that . . .

  7. My kids have never said they are bored. But they do walk around saying they have nothing to play with, which I guess means they are bored because there is a basement full of toys. They often want to watch TV, especially the almost 5 year old. That boy loves TV. I haven’t found a solution. Hard to send them outside when it’s over 90 degrees and feels deathly hot out. They don’t want to do “school work”. If we only had enough money for camps.

    1. Yep to all that. I would love to do more camps. The ones we have done, they LOVE. And it is SO hot. We need to go to the pool more, I guess, but I’m having time getting all my work done so I put it off.

  8. I read yesterday on a blog that this family has a BORED jar. Every time they complain about being bored, they draw a slip of paper out of the jar. Sometimes it is a FUN thing to do. But, most of the time it is a chore…a BIG chore. Are your children the kind that would take their chances and draw??????????????? 🙂

  9. My mom usually told me to go clean my room if I said I was bored. It was something that if it didn’t happen she wasn’t too worried about since she hadn’t planned on asking me to do it at the time, and she didn’t feel the need to supervise it. It usually got me to go find something else to do 🙂

  10. My daughter gets bored more easily after being entertained. The week after camp. After being sick and having the tv on for hours. After a day at the water park or playing with friends. Entertaining yourself requires creativity and effort. Being entertained is passive, it requires nothing. That’s why I feel that boredom is a great thing. It’s a symptom of detox (not that being entertained occasionally is toxic – only when it becomes a nonstop need). Boredom will pass in really creative ways if not interfered with.
    In the Eloise at the Plaza books, Nanny says “Only boring people get bored.” I agree.
    We have a trampoline in the backyard, a dog that needs cuddling, bathing or walking, sidewalk chalk and other art supplies at the ready, sewing materials, and lots and lots of books.
    If left to her own devices, she will usually find some creative thing to do.
    The key for us, is to limit tv and other “boredom creators”.
    While I was typing this comment, my daughter came in and said, I’m bored. Can I watch tv? I said no. Now she is riffling through the art supplies. 🙂

    1. Yeah, that USUALLY works. I just get sick of hearing it. And with 3 kids, it’s like someone is always whining. And really, my kids entertain themselves quite well. I think the reason I’m hearing “I’m bored” more this year is because I have gotten lax with the TV so when they don’t have it, they are having a hard time finding something to do. But if I stand firm, they do end up playing by themselves.

      The worst is when they end up fighting instead of playing. And I’m trying to work. ARGHUMPH.

  11. Oh if I had a quarter for every time I heard I’m bored! We make the boys go outside and play for at least an hour every day and usually once they are out there, the don’t come back in for 2-3 hours. Funny how when the get out there they always find something to do.

  12. We have farm camps around here in NC – some friends have done them and kids love it!! I always tell my kids “You are responsible for your own fun,” or “make your own fun,” and they pretty much always do! 🙂

  13. My kids are two and two months and board has yet to enter our house, My daughter is still in the eat, sleep, cry, watch routine. My son is hard at his work, play and comes up with his own little games, or asks me to help him do an activity (like painting).

  14. I haven’t heard it all summer this year, but if I did…there would be some room cleaning getting done that’s for sure! Usually the girls are into something or creating something so I don’t have too much to worry about when it comes to boredom…yet. 😉

  15. Sometimes I feel like nothing I do is good enough, Or rather, is not enough.
    I take them to an Maerican Girl boutique, then to Build-a-Bear workshop, then to a playground in the mall, then to a pool in the evening. ALl in one day. They are still not happy and want even more.

    1. Yeah see? That is actually what I mean. Even GOOD and beneficial activities can spoil them so they can’t entertain themselves.

      I have never done a lot of entertaining or catering, and for the most part, my kids play well by themselves. But as they get older, I find myself getting more lax with the TV and computer and video games – esp my son b/c he’s not the type of kid to play with toys or build stuff. He never has been. He’s about sports and video games. And in the summertime, with not as many friends around, he really does get bored. He hardly ever SAYS he’s bored, though. He just lays around, which makes me feel bad. Sometimes he will play a board game by himself, lol. He does read a lot, but you can’t read all day. And he runs out of books too, even with frequent library runs.

  16. My little ones aren’t very old yet – 2 and 4, but the 4 year old is good at whining and wanting to be entertained. I work from home for myself, like you do and so I have to be careful about my time. We also don’t have a TV and currently the kids have no computer access. Sugar will start getting some this fall as we start preschool stuff but I think I’m going to severely limit the mindless stuff that can happen on the computer.

    What works right now is we have a schedule – on Monday we go to storytime, on Tuesday we go to the park, on Friday we run errands. Once or twice a month on Wednesday we get together with some other families and do something fun and once or twice a month we get together with the cousins and do something fun. Outside of that – we’ve got to work around Momma’s schedule and we stay home a lot. At home there are things the kids like to play with – the “fishy game”, the duplo’s, the Little People stuff – that we keep put up in containers and they can only have one of them out at a time. That keeps the toys “new”. Both of them have a few age-appropriate chores too and we try to bake something together once a month or so. Basically – I do limited entertaining and get frustrated by the whining just like you!

  17. I’m fortunate in that my oldest (who is 6) could color or read for hours – she doesn’t often complain about boredom. My twins are 2, so there’s not any complaining there yet (unless you count whining to be picked up). I’m sure I’ve got lots of that phrase in my future though!!

  18. I read all the comments before commenting so I apologize in advance if my comment gets long LOL First, the TV and video games definitely contribute to those bored comments. It’s hard to take the no TV plunge., but DO IT. It’s so worth it after the withdrawal is over. My 4 and 5 yo’s were TV junkies for a long time (because it’s MUCH easier to plop them in front of TV when I want to get stuff done) and I finally, literally, trashed our TV and the boys have been so.much better about playing without me.

    On your son, I was a book junkie and didn’t do much else, and you know – we survive without the TV. Let him take more books out than you normally do and buy him some puzzle books; I used to love doing those highlight magazines! Don’t feel bad, he’ll figure out something to do. I was never really bored when I was laying around, I just wasn’t interested in playing with kids LOL He may be the same way.

    So, here’s in idea for those “I’m bored” comments. Get yourself a jar and slips of paper. On each paper write out a chore and/or an interesting activity (I like to search online for creative ideas – check out Frugal Family Fun Blog, she’s got some GREAT imaginative ideas) and whenever your kids come whining to you about being bored, let them pull a slip out of the jar and do it. They’ll either love the introduction of new ideas and it will keep them busy for hours or they’ll get sick of your silly ideas and quit telling you they’re bored! LOL

  19. I agree that children need to learn to entertain themselves or they will always need you to think of things to do. You can guide them towards activities, give them the ideas. If they don’t like the choices you offer, then cleaning is what they can do.:) My girls are older; the oldest has always been able to find something to work on. The younger one is a different story! She has never been able to entertain herself, and I was just thinking last week how she continues to need me to be there to keep her engaged in something constructive. If I’m busy, then it’s the TV, computer , or just laying around. I know what you mean about feeling bad about it, so I have suggested on many occasions that she clean her room or their bathroom. We do go to the library often,and this week she is volunteering at Bible School.

  20. My kids are 4 & 6 and they watch waaaaayyyyy to much tv and play waaaayyyy to much nintendo wii. Normally we limit how much the tv is on in the summer time and they play outside. Right now though it is so danged hot here! 100-105 for almost 2 weeks straight! Don’t get me wrong they could play other things but I’ve not been very disciplined myself about the tv! Though when the tv is off we like to play board games and the kids adore being read too! and hide and seek is almost a nightly routine in our house!

  21. Good topic! One whole month of summer to go.
    I heard somewhere that kids have to get bored before they find something to DO. This makes complete sense to me. First comes being idle, then comes the creativity and imagination and invention of play! Brilliant! So I resist the instinct to roll my eyes and sure enough, they are off on a new adventure before I know it. Like you, I do NOT entertain. They are so much better at the art of play than I ever was.

  22. We are lucky that baseball goes into the beginning of July. THAT helps a ton, then we had people here for their vacation, then we leave for vacation on Sunday and then he goes to “into the wildnerness” camp for a week. August 8 football starts. Not much time to be bored.

  23. My kids are IN camp and they are still claiming to be bored! I can’t take it! I start to actually laugh at times when I hear them say “I’m bored!” b/c they will say it like 10 times in one minute. Uuuuuuuuuuuuuugh, I’d kill to be bored!

  24. My kids are 5 and 7, and this is the first summer they have complained about being bored. I think they picked up the phrase somewhere, but put it into use pretty quickly. I tell them the same thing my teachers used to tell us (at our STRICT school…) “Smart kids don’t get bored.” Both of them want to be thought of as smart, just like we did as kids. It doesn’t always work but usually the putter off and find something to do.

  25. At my house, if you come to me and tell me you’re bored, I will look at you and say “Great!! I have a lot to do around here. Could you go scrub the bath tub/clean the toilets/put away laundry/do dishes/sweep floors/etc. for me? That would be a huge help! Thanks!”

    My kids (and any nieces or nephews or friends) don’t get bored at my house very often!

  26. I tend to agree w/ you. Our society doesn’t give children responsibilities enough. I’m still trying to figure out how to implement them into modern life. How do you help kids contribute to the family, to learn, to imagine, and to really play? Still thinking about that…

  27. Our Wii is broken right now and my 9-year-old, especially, will want more TV the more she watches. She is also addicted to AnimalJam.com but I begrudgingly allow it because it’s a National Geographic Kids site (wink.)

    I grew up in the boonies almost like an only child because my older brother (next in line after me) was 7 years older than me! My mom was NOT one to entertain me at all.

    This summer the girls have done zero camps. That’s right, zero. But we have had a relatively short summer thanks to more snow days than usual in Nashville. We did one week of beach vacation, two weeks of Vacation Bible School. and every Wed. night my 9-year-old does indoor Futsal (soccer) at a local private school. So far we have survived. 😉 And we only have about 3 more weeks until school starts. Woot!

    This afternoon I found that she and her little sister (6) played for a good 2 hours with Littlest Pet Shops and made a total mess of the den but they played and were unplugged so it was wonderful. We also have an arts supply drawer, tons of books, and lately we’ve started playing some old school card games, like Crazy 8s and even Black Jack.

    I do limit their computer time and TV time and I feel like I’ve got their week divided up enough into different activities (two days with the grandparents, two days with me, one day home with hubby) that it’s worked pretty well. But I try not to constantly try to entertain them. I think when kids are “forced” to entertain themselves they really let their imaginations flow.

    We even did some old school room cleaning and purging this weekend and my 9-year-old really got into making a Goodwill donation pile. Unfortunately she is not one to read as much as I did when I was a kid. I would read for hours at a time!

  28. Christie over at These Are A Few of My Favorite Things had a fabulous spring break plan to combat the “i’m bored”s. She and her husband set aside the amount of money they figured they’d spend in a week with the kids home and told the kids, here’s the week’s allowance. You 3 plan out how you want to use it this week, and whatever’s left at the end we’ll use for a shopping trip. So you get teamwork and planning and everybody gets some of what they want (ideally), and best of all, NO “i’m bored”s allowed!

  29. I think a lot of kids complain of boredom because they are over scheduled. When you have some sort of activity or lesson every day it is hard to know what to do when free time arises. Like many of you my mom’s answer to I am bored was house or yard work. It worked like a charm!

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