The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Health & Family

July 26, 2012

Sarah Coyne: Creative ideas squelch summer boredom

JOPLIN, Mo. — While summer isn’t exactly drawing to a close, we’re already feeling the effects of the long, unstructured days. We’ve gone swimming as much as we can stand, read chapters for hours on end, emptied all the toys from the toy boxes and declared “I’m bored” enough times to make a mother’s ears bleed.  

Boredom isn’t a bad thing. Kids need time to stretch their brains into solving the problem of boredom. Letting them wander around without particular plans allows children to come up with creative outlets and oddball solutions that will keep them entertained.

And that means more than turning on a movie to pass the time. If you’ve used the television as a backup plan all summer long like we have, you’re probably to the point where even movies are leaving your kids bored and cranky.  

If it weren’t so miserably hot and dry outside, I’d give my usual advice when things get dull: Go out and play. Nature always seems to be the best babysitter when it comes to inspiring imaginative play.

But if I’m not willing to go out much myself in this weather, I can hardly require it of my children.

To get our little ones out of the funk of summer boredom, it can be helpful to provide a stockpile of ideas. Hopefully, one good boredom-busting idea will spur others. Once kids have had time to reawaken their imaginations, they’ll be more able to come up with their own creative solutions.

Until then, keep this quick list of fun options nearby to offer as inspiration when the summer days begin to drag:

  • Use stuffed animals to turn your bedroom into a zoo.
  • Play hide and seek.
  • Cut out and glue magazine pictures to create a collage.
  • Make homemade ice cream.
  • Draw a picture of an imaginary creature.
  • Skate around the kitchen in dad’s socks.
  • Take a bubble bath.
  • Make a fort under the kitchen table.
  • Write a story about the best day of the year.
  • Build a bedroom-city with blocks and toy houses.
  • Paint.
  • Set up a living room lunch picnic.
  • Make paper bag puppets.
  • Look at family photo albums.
  • Invite friends over for a cupcake decorating party.
  • Make homemade play dough.
  • Fill a tray with dried beans or rice to scoop and pour.
  • Blow bubbles.
  • Make play money to use for grocery shopping in the kitchen pantry.
  • Melt old crayon bits in muffin tins.
  • Cut apple and potato halves into paint stamps.

 And when possible, get down on the floor to simply play with your kids. Adding an extra imagination to the mix ensures that boredom will be a distant memory in no time.

Sarah Coyne lives in Joplin. She writes about life and motherhood at her personal blog, http://this    heavenlylife.

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