During the summer, one of my favorite things to hear from my children is “I’m bored.” If you have children on summer break, you are likely to hear this repeatedly. I have to say, this it is one of those statements that just rubs me the wrong way, especially since they had been counting down to summer and now are already bored with it. This means that they are looking for me to find entertainment for them, which usually costs me money, and I am not a huge fan of that! As the years have gone by, and my wallet has remained thin, I’ve learned to get creative with our activity choices.
Of course, there are the typical things that I can make them do when they’re bored, such as cleaning their room or picking up sticks in the backyard, which I love and they hate. But we all know that those solutions only lead to more whining, which does not make for a happy, nor productive, parent. After exhausting the standards, I then get more creative with my solutions, which don’t cost me an arm and a leg.
One of my favorite things to do is to wander aimlessly with my kids, or perambulate, just to see what we find. More often than not, this requires me to pack snacks and water in my backpack and we get in the car and pick a direction. I usually let them pick an area they want to explore more, simply because this makes it feel like it is more of THEIR adventure instead of just me making all of the decisions. For the particular adventure pictured here, they chose a place that was about 65 miles round trip from my house, which cost me $4.44 in gas.
We parked on a side street that required no meter or time limit and began to walk. We not only found this amazing park, that we spent a large majority of our time at, but some really cool shops to browse around in, some beautiful landscaping and houses, some shaded walking trails and then spent time reading a book that we had brought on a grassy knoll and ate our snacks.
We had in depth conversation about how the park was designed and built and what other things they might have wanted to see there and the things that they loved about the park and the adventure. We spent a total of 5 hours out of the house and by the time we returned, they were tired and no longer bored, which meant that I could get done what I needed to get done. All for $4.44 in gas!
I have been working hard to make sure that my children enjoy reading. Sometimes that is a difficult feat to accomplish because they aren’t always thrilled with their book choices during the school year. We are lucky, in that we live in the downtown area and are surrounded by libraries. I got them each their own library card and we try to take a trip to one of them at least every two weeks to find new books.
There is a plethora of choices to be had at any library, including new series for children and young adults, so the possibilities are endless! Most libraries have a Summer Reading Program with incentives for each age bracket of children as well, so that can be a huge bonus to get them reading more.
The summer may be young still, but my children are in a contest with each other to see who can read their books faster. I am perfectly fine with a little bit of healthy competition in this regard!
Okay, some days it is just way too hot for this to work. However, I like to get my kids outside as often as possible because I find that it wears them out so much faster than keeping them inside. A lot of cities, including mine, have a ton of different walking trails or parks to explore.
When we go on hikes or nature walks, our goal is to see how many different species of animals we can find and discuss them and their habitat in detail. We work on plant species sometimes, but I will admit that I’m not as well versed in those. This type of “I’m bored” day adventure works to both get their energy out and also to keep their brain engaged and active.
If we know that we are planning one of these then we can look for books at the library to identify local plants and/or animals and bring it with us. This can lead to really engaging debates about what is what! For these adventures, I always pack my backpack with food and water because my goal is not to go out and spend a ton of money but to create memories and wear them out at the same time.
Explore Your Neighborhood
When was the last time that you just grabbed your keys and your kids and walked out the front door to see what you found? The last time that we did this, we found a pond with tadpoles, ducks, fish and a crane as well as a little free library set up in front of somebody’s house for a book swap. We also found quite a few new houses being built and many houses in different stages of renovations, which sparked conversation about house building and what their dream houses may be.
When we returned home, I gave them a snack and asked them to draw me their dream houses, which kept them both busy and creative so that I could work. This is a really easy potential adventure and costs absolutely nothing!
Next time you hear “I’m bored,” think about things that are near you that you may not have experienced yourself and embark on an adventure of sorts. It costs very little to nothing and creates lasting memories for your family, as well as exhausts them! I would love to hear about your adventures, so please let me know what you have found near you to help ease the summer boredom.
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