New Year. It’s the time when adults make resolutions to improve our physical and mental health, and children do their best to drive us to drink. They’re bored. It’s days and days since they were showered with new toys and brought to parties and pantos, yet school is still out. Poor lambs have absolutely nothing to do. They are understandably out of their little minds with boredom. And boredom is the root of all evil. Bored children are a threat to life and limb. They emit a noise that qualifies as torture under international law. But don’t despair! You can cure them of boredom, perhaps permanently, with these simple solutions.
1. Wave your magic wand! You know the one – it has a very long handle and a brush on the end. It comes with a pan. My mother taught me a very useful magic trick to make bored children disappear. When she heard the word ‘bored’ uttered in her house, she’d snap that she would just love the opportunity to be bored. Perhaps we’d like to trade places with her, so she could be bored? How, she would marvel, could anyone be bored when there were windows to be washed and ornaments to be dusted? Before you could say she’d misheard you, you’d have a rag in your hand and a task before you. She only had to do it once per school break to ensure we found plenty of quiet ways to entertain ourselves.
2. Be a legend! Sure, you’re a legend, but do your children know it? If they are soooo bored, perhaps they’d like to hear a few stories, a few of your personal legends. This is your chance to show them the true meaning of the word ‘bored’. Regal them with tales of how you walked to school, what chores you did, what you considered a fantastic treat or toy. Tell them all about playing for hours with your mates and an old can without pestering your parents about being bored. Eventually they will either flee or slip into a semi-conscious (and silent) state. Victory!
3. Inspire their creativity! Children are naturally genius at inventing their own games and entertainment. But today, sadly, they need some inspiration. You can provide it by setting an example. When your children announce that they are bored, you can model creativity by devising a game. If you plan your game strategically, it can inspire them to go off and create their own. What about playing school? Didn’t you love that as a child? Have your children sit silently and do maths. Cinderella is a classic. You be the evil step mother, and they can all be Cinderella. Give each child a damp rag and let them clean the floor. In just minutes, they will think of their own clever games and be off, cured of their boredom.
4. It’s all fun and games! If all else fails, you can always play hide and seek. In this version, you go hide while all of your children count to one thousand. Be sure to bring survival supplies such as chocolate and wine with you when you hide. Maybe it’s been a while since you’ve played this game. Here are some super hiding places – the garden shed, next door at a neighbour’s house, the attic (be sure not to leave the ladder down!). Hiding behind a locked door is totally fair, but remember, they will look in the bathroom. Ha ha, what parents would ever think they’d be alone in the bathroom! Good luck.
Experts tell us boredom is good for children. So don’t be guilt tripped into providing endless entertainment. They don’t need it. We might need them to have it, but that’s another issue! The time between St. Stephen’s Day and school re-opening is survival mode. Do what you need to do. Hide in the wardrobe. Change the clocks to convince them it’s bedtime an hour sooner. Terrify them with the gritty reality of housework. Wave a shovel and threaten to return their toys to Santa. And keep repeating to yourself – and to your children – that boredom is natural and healthy. You’re going to survive this, and so are they.