Tame Boredom Chaos

Boredom hasn’t been much of a problem in our home, and I’ve been trying to pinpoint why.  (Rest assured we have other struggles.)  Even as a child I rarely battled boredom.   If it dared wink in my direction, it was quickly brushed away by a world of imagination–either of my own creation or in a book.

Perhaps the best way to banish boredom is to nurture an appreciation for everyday wonder.  Guide children to find interest in nature, in other people, and in science and to explore the “how” and “why”.  If children learn that life is interesting and seek those gems of interest, they’ll rarely want for amusements.

I’ll list a few other practical ways to tame boredom chaos below:

  • Keep some routine-even on school vacations, a basic skeleton of structure helps children manage their time, know what to expect, and feel anchored in their days.  Keep meals and sleep times (mostly) consistent, and have a simple landmarks in their day to punctuate free times.
  • Guide activities, especially for littles:  For my youngest children I direct their activities.   As I see them winding down in one activity, I don’t hesitate to be the parent and direct them to something else.  (I.e: after they’ve been coloring at the table for a while and interest begins to wane, I’ll cheerfully announce, “ok, time for outside play!  Everyone grab a squirt gun and GO!”  When they begin getting over-heated outside, I’ll call them in for iced tea and get out the bin of dress-up clothes for them to play indoors.  As they get older, I direct less, but especially in the early years, they benefit from a bit of guidance.  I don’t tell them how to play or direct the play itself–I just set the stage, provide some props then set them free to explore those resources.
  • Rotate toys (again, for littles): Partly just due to storage space, many toys in our home are stored in bins high on the shelves.  I get a few bins down at a time.  The children feel they have “new” toys constantly because the selection of those within reach is always changing.
  • Provide meaningful projects (especially for olders):  Boredom can often be a sign that work or play has lost it’s significance.  Especially for older children, help them find projects that work toward fulfilling a goal they’ve set.  When work and play twine toward fulfilling a vision, there’s a thrill of focus and purpose.  Whether it’s publishing their own family news paper, building a stepping stool, painting portraits of the neighbor’s cat or knitting hats for cancer patients, sometimes a meaningful project is just the ticket to infuse purpose back into languid teens or grade-schoolers.

This post first appeared yesterday as my weekly Taming the Chaos feature on The Old Schoolhouse’s Front Porch!  If you are interested in other tips to tame boredom, hop over!  Boredom is the theme this week and many on the Porch Team are sharing their thoughts–share yours as well, by commenting over there!


~Domestic Chaos tamer and homeschool mom of 5, Dell writes about home, heart and hearth.~


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