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Saturday, June 15, 2013

Busting Boredom

3 of 7 Sikorski Tribe members enjoying summer

We are only three weeks into summer vacation and my kids are already bored. This, I cannot understand, as I am anything but. I have a stack of books from the library. I have odd and end jobs that need to be done around the house. I also have coffee dates to schedule, baseball games to attend, laundry to catch up and of course, on the sunniest of afternoons, lounging around the pool. 
 
My first inclination was to teach my kids that whoever dared to pronounce in my presence that they "We're bored!" would suffer dire consequences.

So for a solid week, each time one of them complained I promptly, and happily, shared a task from my to do list. The thought was that if they couldn't find something to do themselves, I would provide work. For one solid, blissful week my house was neat and tidy. 
 
However, my kids quickly caught on to my scheme and by the second week of summer they were avoiding me like the plague. Clearly I wasn't as clever as I thought. Now I was stuck doing all the work, my kids were hiding in their rooms and, plus, they were still bored! They were just smart enough to stop announcing it to me. 
 I tried a new tactic the next week. I hung job charts up on the refrigerator. I printed out beautiful color templates, filled them in and made sure the labor was equally divided. Now, while the house is kept relatively clean, the spirit of helpfulness amongst my family is completely lost. For example, if I say to the nearest kid, "Please take out the trash" they will answer with, "It's not my job!" and step over the overflowing can. 
 
Mother of the year I am not.
 
All I want is a relaxing, peaceful summer, people. I pushed five babies out of my body and I feel very strongly that I deserve some down time.
 
So I did what all-modern day mothers do, I went to Google in search of an answer. I came across Tsh at SimpleMom.net. She identifies with transitioning to a summer schedule. She writes, "I'm all about letting the kids explore, wander through their summer days, and enjoy the challenge of being bored. We'll be doing plenty of that. But I also don't see any reason we can't still learn stuff and, you know, be intentional with our time."
 
She implies she allows her children to be bored.
Wait! What?
Here I am working very hard at making sure my kids aren't bored and she says boredom can be a joyful challenge? For who? Not for me! When my kids are bored I suffer the consequences of random, roaming, crabby children. Yet, is it possible all my efforts to be the family's concierge is robbing them of an opportunity?
 
I remember being bored as a child, but I don't ever remember it being my mother's problem. I remember sitting on the cool concrete of the front porch and counting cars. I remember spending hours in the backyard searching for four leaf clovers and playing with roly-polys. I remember kick the can.
 
My kids don't do that stuff. Is their imagination stunted? If it is, is it my fault?
Is it the XBox's fault?
The internet's fault?
This generation's fault?
 
Why can't my kids wake up, go outside and play until I call them in for lunch? Why do I have to monitor the TV? Why don't they play with the neighbor's kids? And why don't they have a mason jar full of bugs?
 
I don't know the answers to these questions although I certainly wish I did. 
 
I want to be a mother to my kids not the boss of summer. I understand that I'm in charge and things must get done, we will always have responsibilities, but it is summer. Time for pools and bike rides and shade trees. I want my kids to have great memories of summer like I do. I want them to make fun out of nothing, to invent yard games and litter my sidewalk with chalk art but mostly I want them to learn how to prompt themselves towards new adventures.
 
Being a mother is hard work. I have this idea in my head of how I want our family life to go but reality says all I can do is create an atmosphere that invites my kids to participate in my ideas. I can't actually make them have fun. My best hope is that somehow they learn the value of investing their time in creative ways. But in the meantime, I'm keeping the job charts. Oh, I'm definitely keeping the job charts. Why? Because I'm the mom and I said so. That's why!
 
(I found these awesome job chart templates on Pinterest. Here's the link)

Stephanie Sikorski is a mother to five children ranging in age from 17 to eight year old twins. She contributes a weekly article to her local paper The Review Atlas entitled Practical Parenting. She works during the school year as a Parents As Teachers Parent Educator with her local state funded PreK. She can be reached at ssikorski@mr238.org for questions or comments. 

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