For many years we had a tradition in our home. On the first day of summer vacation we gathered around the kitchen table, ate doughnuts and made our plans for the next few months. We started with a big poster board bearing the words Super Summer 200__. Then using different colored markers we would write down some of the activities we wanted to do during the summer. Go to Six Flags, play Putt Putt golf, ice-skating were some of the ideas. We also wrote down some of the obligations of the summer like Read for 45 minutes each day, computer time for designated amount of time and only 1 hour of television per day. I, of course, established the obligations but introduced them in a semi-pleasant way as we created the poster together.
Then we would pull out the Boredom Buster can. This was an old coffee can which we decorated together. It had a slit in the top of the lid in which we could place boredom busting ideas. My daughters and I sat around the kitchen table with little pieces of paper and talked about the different things we could do if we ever felt the “B” word (boredom) coming into our minds.
As we thought about ideas we would write them down and put them in the can, so that at any time we could pick one, read it and remind ourselves of things we could do. We wrote down things like bake cookies, shoot hoops, jump on trampoline, call a friend, go swimming, write a letter to a relative, read and so on. It was a great exercise because it made us realize with a little thought and creativity there was plenty to do, always.
Oddly, we never had to open the can during the summer because we had proven to ourselves that we could create our own fun. The can served as a reminder that we were never at a loss for something to do. The fact is, boredom is in the eye of the beholder. If you let yourself mope around and declare yourself bored, then you are. But boredom is simply a perspective. Samuel Butler said, “The man who lets himself be bored is even more contemptible than the bore. There is always something positive to do with your time, even if it is a planned time of relaxing.
Certainly there is a danger of over-planning the summer as well. It’s healthy and good to have unplanned space in order to allow our kids to create their own fun by using their imagination. The important thing to teach our kids is they don’t have to depend on someone or something else to entertain them. They have the ability to enjoy life and make the most of their time. They never need to be the slave of boredom again.
Family Fun: Celebrate the start of summer by having a little fun family breakfast and talking about the plans for the next few months (as well as some of the rules). Then create a Boredom Buster can like the one I described.