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Hanging Out in the Bored Room

Hanging Out in the Bored Room

According to Phineas and Ferb®, there are 104 days of summer vacation. I want to know where they go to school because in my Tennessee county, there are eighty. I counted—and that includes weekends.

At what point in this 80-104 days of summer did you hear that fearful phrase, “Mom, I’m bored!”?  Maybe SuperMom has every day planned out, but not me. This year, I’m okay with it. No, I’m better than ‘okay.’ I’m intentionally leaving room for boredom.

Psychologist Dr. Jeremy Dean suggests that boredom stimulates creativity. The experience of boredom is negative, and our kids’ attitudes toward boredom are understandably negative, but constant diversions—even healthy ones—do not leave room for daydreaming, goal-setting, or other types of creative thinking.

So the next time your children exhaust their daily television and video game allotment before lunch, then try to lay the burden of their entertainment on you, suggest one of these creativity-enhancing exercises. Is it a diversion? Yes, but it’s the open-ended, daydreaming kind of diversion in which they learn to entertain themselves and think creatively rather than depending on outside sources to occupy their minds. And if you join them, you may create some fun memories as well.

1.  Lay down in the backyard (or on the roof if you are apartment dwellers) and find shapes in the clouds.

2.  Sit down for ten minutes and make up a story in your head. Then, come back and share it. (If this suggestion is too open-ended, ask them to do a “mash-up,” taking favorite characters from various books, movies, or television programs. What if Spiderman showed up in a Wimpy Kid story?)

3.  Envision the most wonderful—or crazy—future career you can. Make a mental list of five milestones on the way to that career. (This is better for older children, but a younger child’s perspective could be incredibly entertaining!)

4.  Pretend you are ______________________. (Name a favorite character, a person from the Bible, or a family member. What if siblings pretend to be each other? Oh, this could be funny!)

5.  Try to sit still and completely clear your mind of all thoughts. It’s harder than you think.

6.  What if ____________________ could really happen? What are the repercussions? (Insert one of their recent ideas. My nine-year-old is always proposing something crazy, and usually I’m too impatient to follow through.)

7.  Go clean your room. (Okay, so this one isn’t very creative, but it’s the tried-and-true cure for any complaint of boredom, and it always worked for my Mom.)

After you’ve done a few of these, or if you’re feeling particularly puckish one day, make no suggestion. Tell your child that he must entertain himself for the next half-hour (or an age-appropriate length of time) without whining or electronic devices. But don’t forget to follow up and ask him how he survived.

Leave room to be bored and watch it clear the way for creativity this summer!

By: Carole Sparks, mother of two and Bible study author, constantly sees God at work in her life and her family’s experiences. She especially likes to explore how parenting teaches her more about God, and how to raise her children as authentic Christ-followers. Check out her website at www.carolesparks.com or her parenting blog at www.notaboutme1151parenting.wordpress.com.

Join us at www.just18summers.com for our parenting blog each Monday-Friday and for info about the Just 18 Summers novel.

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