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The “B” Word

November 25, 2012

Oh the joy of being home for Thanksgiving break. Sleeping in, no rush to be on time to school, hanging out with the kids. What’s that you say?  They’re bored? Climbing the walls?

Ah the, B word.

Over the years my children have heard, “You can’t be bored only boring”, this receives rolled eyes and sighs. “Find something to do”, which means that I have to find something for them to do. This year I rolled out ” Oh bored means you haven’t thought of something to do yet”, which seems to be better received than “I can find you something to do, like laundry, or cleaning the baseboard, how does your: closet, under the bed, play area…..look?” or the least favorite “Oh hi  Bored, I need help with…”

Shh, can I tell you a secret? Bored is good, some research suggests that it’s not only healthy but necessary. Bored means only that your mind is restless, seeking to be entertained. What a wonderful  opportunity to begin to let your mind wander, to mull, consider, imagine, mentally create, reflect and daydream. Pre-technology we had time to be bored and think quiet thoughts. Heidegger says that ‘profound boredom’ produces the possibility for what he calls ‘the moment of vision in which the full situation of an action opens itself and keeps itself open’.

That’s all well and good, but what about here in the trenches while you’re trying to clean the house and truss a turkey?  To help with What to DO Now?  Here is a list of 73 and counting things to do that I have created, received from workshop parents or culled  from many different sources.(sources unfortunately long forgotten to give credit) Adding to this list makes it richer for everyone so please share any with me that you may have.

Now What?!   73 and counting great ideas

  1. Have a tickle party. Wrestle and roll around with your kids.
  2. Pull out board games. Make an annual Christmas gift of a new family board game
  3. Have some friends over — life without TV is a lot easier when you do it in a group. Try to organize your turn-off with another family or through your child’s school. Marie Winn’s influential book The Plug-in Drug: Television, Children, and Family (Penguin USA) is packed with reasons to live TV-free.
  4. Let the kids take every cushion off the sofa and build a fort. Crawl through once or twice yourself. Serve lunch to the explorers in the tent, or let them sleep in it at night. I have wonderful memories of my mother letting my sister and I ‘campout’ in our bedrooms.
  5. At the risk of being obvious — read! Take the kids to the library to stock up before your set goes off and lay in a mountain of books. The older ones can read to the little ones when your voice gives out.
  6. Share a skill with your kids — do you knit, sew, tie flies, play an instrument? Spend some time passing your knowledge on.
  7. Take a class together. Isn’t there something you’d both like to learn to do?
  8. Go ice-skating or Roller Skating— have hot chocolate after or lemonade
  9. Get to know the museums and historical societies in your town.
  10. Stock up on books and stories on tape. There’s an extraordinary selection available for the youngest to the oldest these days. Try the Chinaberry catalog ( for some great selections.
  11. Have a family letter writing party. And no, not using e-mail, but pens, paper, markers — remember them? If your children are too young to write, have them draw on the front and then dictate a letter to you to write on the back. Grandma, Grandpa, and faraway friends will be thrilled.
  12. Set out a lot of good dress-up stuff and let your kids play with each other If there is trouble coming up with ideas have them act out a book or give them prompts
  13. Be a star  Turn on the music, give them play microphone and let the concert begin
  14. Teach the kids all the card games you know.  Uno, Go Fish, Old Maid, Concentration, there are many games out there for all age groups. A few books to help out are  101 Best Family Card Game (Sterling, 1994) by Alfred Sheinwold. For younger children,  Card Games for Little Kids (Workman, 2000) by Gail MacColl.
  15. Bake something — even the youngest can help with simple cookie recipes.
  16. Build a Fairy House gather rocks, twigs, moss, shells, any natural item will work and build those fairy’s house.
  17. Buy inexpensive eyeliner pencils and let them draw on the mirrors. Yes, it washes off.
  18. Cook  together. The library is full of children’s cook books.
  19. Get crafty — there are tons of books with terrific craft projects in them. Get one, get some felt and get to work.
  20. Do something for someone else — spend that afternoon you would have spent watching TV culling old toys to give to less privileged children or with older kids, working with a community group or church or synagogue to help folks in need.
  21. Can we fix it? Fix that leaky faucet, sew those ripped pants. Turning off the set gives you time to do some of those household projects you’ve been ignoring. Let your kids hand you wrenches, or work on their own sewing (or for the little ones, lacing) projects.
  22. Face paint  Save that Halloween face paint and let them face and arm paint
  23. See some live shows — community theater, a dance performance, a music concert. Introduce your kids to the excitement and spontaneity of entertainment that’s not taped.
  24. Play outside. Even if it’s cold outside, bundle up and go for a walk. Make a snowman or go sledding if there’s enough white stuff around. Time spent outside every day is key to life beyond television.
  25. Get photographic Digital cameras let every budding photographer have fun. Print the one you love and frame them. It’s a wonderful way to see your child’s world through their eyes.
  26. Take an evening walk together Watch as the sun sets at different times and moves across the horizon as the year passes.
  27. Practice  the art of Conversation
  28. Plant a garden  If you don’t have space for a large garden, you can use a large pot (or 1/2 barrel) filled with soil. Flower gardens are great, but so are vegetable gardens. Three things that seem to be the best for young children to plant are fast-growing radishes, tall sunflowers, and pumpkins for carving or mini ones for enjoying.
  29. Have a beauty salon day  I can remember my father letting my sister and I ‘doll’ him up
  30. Go to the park Bring bread to feed the ducks, if there are any to feed!
  31. Pick up litter in your neighborhood or at a park Wear thick gloves.
  32. Bake Bread
  33. Play an old-fashioned game Duck, Duck Goose, Ring Around the Rosies, London Bridge, etc. Your local library probably has a book or two that lists various games and their rules. Invite the neighbors over to play.
  34. Have relay races Egg toss, 3-legged race, ball (or egg) on a spoon, etc
  35. Wash the car Especially good for a hot day,  on cold days pull into the garage and let them vacuüm or dust away!
  36. Pick flowers and deliver them to a neighbor Make their day!
  37. Play reverse musical chairs Take a chair away just before the music starts each time, just as in regular musical chairs, but no one ever goes “out.” Instead, those who are without a chair to sit on must sit on someone’s lap. Soon the pile-ups will have everyone laughing too much to play anymore!
  38. Blow up a couple of balloons This is an inexpensive way to have a lot of fun, and planned games are unnecessary, as they’ll be tossing them around and having fun before you could say anything anyway! Fancy a game of : Across the bed balloon “ping-pong’, don’t tough the ground…..
  39. Tell a never-ending story  Have one person start the story, then another continues, then another, and so on. You can just tell it or tape-record it instead of writing it down. To make a funny story, have each person write down just one paragraph of a story separately. Give them a subject or a few starter words, then put them together to make one story.
  40. Write special notes to each other Leave notes on the recipient’s pillow for them to find at night. Tuck them into Dad’s suit pocket or mom’s wallet. This is a good way to keep the kids writing during school breaks.
  41. Have a treasure hunt The treasure could be something small and simple, such as stickers, candy, or even just a picture of a treasure box full of jewels. Let the kids each take turns hiding a treasure and drawing up the map
  42. Put a puzzle together Set it out on a table where it’s not in the way and make it a week project. Stop to sit and put a few pieces in.
  43. Throw a family dance party Blow up a couple of balloons, stick in a CD or plug-in the iPod and have some fun! Don’t worry if someone doesn’t really know how to dance, just move. I know someone who will call out “group dance party” and we all dance, crazy silly no matter where we are for one minute then continue on as if nothing ever happened.
  44. Go to the library Make this at least a weekly event. Get both individual books and a family book that you will read from together each day. Even older children who know how to read usually enjoy hearing stories, and you can talk about the books as a family as well. Bonus, they will fill up time on their own reading or looking at picture books.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
  45. Put on a family play The kids write the script and design the costumes. Keep it simple. When the play is ready, perform it for Grandma or some willing neighbors. Be sure to pass out tickets to the event, and assign someone to be the ticket-taker.
  46. Play tic-tac-toe using sidewalk chalk, or Hopscotch There is a  sidewalk paint  by Crayola that will wash away
  47. Play “Name that Tune” One person chooses a song that everyone knows and hums or plays the first four notes. If no one can guess the song, then five notes are hummed, then six, and so on. This can be a good travel game, provided the players can hum loudly enough for everyone to hear.
  48. Hold cooking classes Teach the kids how to follow a recipe and cook meals, but also have some fun cooking desserts. Have a contest to see who can make up the best original recipe, then let everyone enjoy eating their creations. (easy way to entertain during dinner prep)
  49. Make up a news report and tape it Don’t forget the commercials!
  50. Make homemade ice cream or popsicle
  51. Get a book of science experiments and try some
  52. Chalk  Sidewalks aren’t the only place you can chalk. Hang a chalkboard or paint one on the wall in the house or garage or even the front of the fridge.
  53. Learn something new together A foreign language, karate, square dancing, knitting, flower arranging, etc.
  54. Ride the bus If riding the bus is not something that they regularly do, the kids will probably get a thrill out of doing it. You can entice older kids to come along if the ride includes a stop at the ice cream store!
  55. Fly a kite, Float a Boat Go to the park or a school field.
  56. Volunteer in the community Most communities have abundant opportunities for giving service, and should have at least a few that are appropriate for younger children (as long as you are there to supervise them).
  57. Make homemade greeting cards Make a whole boxful of assorted cards for various occasions to use the rest of the year. Or make Christmas cards now to give later, or to sell in the fall to earn a little Christmas cash.
  58. Have a watermelon seed spitting contest For the brave, try a pie eating contest!
  59. Build a model house Use toothpicks and gum drops, or pretzels and peanut butter.
  60. Domino Toppling Offer a box a dominos tiles  and show them how to set them up and watch them fall                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
  61. Make place-mats for dinner Color a picture and laminate, make them for holidays, birthdays or gifts
  62. Have a Fun bath Tint the water, blow the bubbles, paint the walls with bath paint or water-color. This has served me well as a down time, I let them play in the bath and talk on the phone or skim a magazine.(if your child is of the age to play  in the bath of course with out your full attention needed)
  63. Bubbles Never ever fails, even with grownups
  64. Paint with water One paint brush, one tub of water, one child one area of dry warm cement = one masterpiece 
  65. Sand wood, Pound Nails Find a felled tree stump or log, small hammers and nails, kindergarten age and up.
  66. Meditate together
  67. Homemade play dough 
  68. Ask your child to think up an idea
  69. Play flash light hide and seek
  70. Journal together Give each person in the family a blank page book and add 5 things a day you are grateful for, by writing or drawings, pasting photographs,or  magazine pictures into it. This book could be brought out at Thanksgiving to read aloud, or as a reminder when the “gimmies or nothing ever good happens to me rear their ugly head.
  71. Collage together Make family vision board, art piece,or  scrapbook
  72. Make Scrap Soup Give your child a large pot a wooden spoon and all the scraps from your chopping board as you cook. (No raw meat please)
  73. Bring nature indoors Make a nature table that features seasonal items such as acorns or pinecones, spring flowers or seashells

One Comment leave one →
  1. Tutu permalink
    November 25, 2012 1:45 pm

    Great post, more ideas than I could come up with. I used to hide change in places to find when cleaning house for you and your sis.

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