Putting Summer Boredom to Use

Children playing
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It’s mid-summer, and by now your kids are fully into the swing of camps, lessons, summer enrichment activities, and a family vacation or two. In between all this scheduled fun, you may still be hearing about boredom. Some of the aforementioned activities involve long road trips, extended plane rides, and time away from friends. So how much screen time do you allow your kids? How much direct action do you need to take to alleviate boredom?

Acknowledge the Feeling

During the final hectic weeks of school, between projects, performances, maybe even play-off games, your kids may have been willing summer to come more quickly. After looking forward to summer, having large blocks of unstructured time after being busy all year is disorienting. Name the feeling for your kids. Tell them that it’s normal to feel unmoored and agitated. Being bored doesn’t feel good but it’s a normal part of life. Learning to be comfortable with boredom is an important part of learning self-control and independence. This ties in with two core competencies of social emotional learning: self-awareness and self-management.

Let them know you understand that sometimes people’s best ideas have come out of prolonged boredom. Feeling temporarily out of sorts and antsy is part of a normal transition from the everyday busyness of the school year to the slower pace of summer.  

Let Boredom Fuel Creativity

By sitting with the agitation and boredom, you are helping your kids make constructive choices about how to use their time. This ties in the another core SEL competency: responsible decision-making. They have the opportunity to learn a new skill, catch up on summer reading, or just get used to spending time watching the world go by.

Among other things, boredom:

  • Helps our brains and bodies recalibrate
  • Is a catalyst for self-reliance
  • Inspires creativity
  • Helps develop self-discipline

Volunteer in the Community

Sometimes the best cure for summer doldrums is helping others. Look into opportunities for park clean-up days, volunteer at a local senior center, or help pack or serve food at a local food bank. Bring a friend or two along for company. This builds two more competencies of social emotional learning: social awareness and relationship skills.

If you can’t find a scheduled volunteer opportunity, you can clean up trash around the neighborhood. All you need is a large garbage bag and some gloves.

Develop an “I’m Bored” Grab Bag

To help spur their creativity, you can work with your kids to develop a grab bag of ideas to work on when they’re bored. This itself can be a summer transition project, and it can help keep the boredom from turning into despair.

Here are some ideas:

  • Make paper airplanes and see how far they can fly 
  • Start a journal, for words, pictures or both 
  • Host a lemonade stand (this involves mom or dad, for younger kids)
  • Play a board game
  • Play Hopscotch
  • Jump rope
  • Fill in sticker books
  • Listen to audio books
  • Make sculptures out of Playdough or Sculpey clay
  • Walk around the neighborhood and pick up litter
  • Learn a new skill, such as cooking, playing an instrument, learning a new card game

Enjoy these lazy summer days. Before you know it, school will be back in session and summer will be a fond memory.

For more ideas, read through some ideas from our partner websites:

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