Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mom! I'm Bored!

It's summer! Huzzah! No early mornings, no homework, and no anxiety from bus route changes (as described here). And I don't even go to school! I've always loved summer. Once I entered the working world after college, I realized summer is better when you are in school. You don't get long breaks anymore. So when I quit my job to stay home with the kids, I discovered the joy of summer once again. It brings me back to the long, lazy summers of my youth. I remember spending afternoons making googly eyes at the neighborhood pool life guard and journaling about how life was going to be awesome once I got my driver's license. I would sleep all morning. I would watch MTV all day long... it was the early 90's... MTV was still cool back then. The most I had to worry about was reading all the books on the school summer reading list. For this book nerd, that wasn't an issue. I didn't have to do anything. That was the beauty of it all. I didn't have to do ANYTHING! I really enjoy a free schedule. I like the freedom to do whatever I want to do even if I choose to do nothing at all. I am happiest when I don't have to do anything. That's usually when I do the most. My kids, however, are nothing like me. They want, no, demand a schedule. They wake up at 7:00 AM, asking for breakfast. They jump on my bed, wanting to know what I've planned to do each minute of the day. Ugh! It's cruel! They don't want to sleep in. They don't want to lay on the couch watching Beavis and Butt-head reruns. That's boring. Everything I like to do is boring. I freaking hate that word. Boring. It's a bad word. It's a whiny word. It goes like this: 

"Mmmmmmooooooooommmmmm!!!!!  I'm borrrrrrrred."

Do you know what causes boredom? It's not from a lack of things to do. It's from a lack of imagination and creativity. Boredom is the ultimate form of laziness. People who say they are bored are really looking for someone else to entertain them. They want you do the leg work and come up with something to do. They don't want to utilize their creative brain.

Another issue I've discovered while hanging out with kids during the summer is that they want to spend money when they are bored. They want to go to this amusement park or that summer camp. Since we are down to one income, we have to keep a tight budget. We have to utilize what we have already. We are members of our neighborhood pool this year which is a major source of entertainment, but only if it is not raining. I love going to the pool but even I need a break from chlorinated water every once in a while. So what do you do with two young kids on a tight budget the rest of the time? I have complied a list of activities that keep my kids entertained that require little to no money. It does not require a ton of adult supervision or assistance. These activities keep my kids busy for hours. Nothing involves glitter. As the great Demetri Martin says, "Glitter is the herpes of craft supplies."

Rainy day fun without using your rainy day funds:

A Bed Sheet:

Help your kids build a fort out of a large bed sheet. I tuck an old bed sheet into the couch cushions. Everything is better in a fort. My kids like to play house, read, color, watch movies, eat lunch and even take naps. Leave the fort up after the kids go to bed and then the adults can enjoy the change of scenery. (Yes, everything is better in a fort. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.)

They begged to take a nap in the fort. That's right... begged.

Be crafty with your crap:

Dad's old sock:

Turn an old sock into a puppet. Give the kids old buttons, glue, markers, and scrap paper and let them make sock puppets. Your kids can spend the day putting on silly puppet shows.

A triceratops.... more like a biceratops really... you get the point.  

The incredible, versatile, amazing cardboard box:

I'm not kidding. Kids love a plain old cardboard box. A kid can turn a cardboard box into a boat, a car, a cave, and a house. Put several cardboard houses together to create your very own hobo shanty town! A few weeks ago, my girls made a cardboard couch. They spent hours on this couch. HOURS!

Cardboard box couch in front of real couch complete with Styrofoam remote control.

Paper plates:

Why only wear masks on Halloween? All you need is a paper plate, some crayons or markers, scissors and a piece of string.

The hub after a long day at the office

Popsicle sticks:

Don't throw away your popsicle sticks this summer. Wash the sticks and give the kids some Elmer's glue. They can make popsicle log cabins, picture frames, little rafts to float in the tub, and my personal favorite, popsicle stick drink coasters for my wine glass.

Fun with food:

Decorate your own cookies. Bake a dozen cookies. Mix plain white frosting with food coloring in little sandwich baggies. Cut a small hole in one end of the baggie and let the kids pipe the icing on each cookie. (Warning: Not for the faint of heart. I suggest you funnel a few Red Bulls to match their sugar high energy rush after this project. Better yet, drop them off at the grandparents' house for the afternoon. Consider it payback for "spoiling" your kids with candy throughout the year.)

Diabetes on a plate, anyone? 

Why clean when you can be creative:

If you love housework as much as I do, try these fun creative ways to get out of your chores.

Give your kids a box of sidewalk chalk and let them cover your driveway with beautiful art. (What oil stains?)

Don't worry about getting that ketchup stain out of their shirt. Tie-dye old stained t-shirts and forget about stain removal forever!

If you must clean, get the kids involved. Make it a competition! Challenge the kids to a race to see who can collect the most toys off the floor, sort the laundry or make the bed the fastest. Give the kids a rag and have them race around the house, wiping down the baseboards. Award them a ribbon or a prize. If you want to get fancy, you can have an Olympic games style metal ceremony. Kids go nuts over prizes and boom... your house is clean.

Have a large window that is covered in hand prints? Yeah, me too. My patio glass door is constantly covered in hand and paw prints. Want to know how to get out of washing that window for the millionth time? Finger paint. Give your little artists finger paint and tell them to paint a mural on the outside of the window. (It's easier to get the paint off later from the outside... trust me.) You don't have to wash the windows if you've got pretty art covering up the smudges.

This makes me an artsy mom... not a lazy mom.
It's all in how you spin it, folks!

Get a jump start on your holiday card portrait:

Give them your (inexpensive) camera and let them be photo journalists for the day. You, too, can get great shots like this:

Malcolm about to lick the lens

B's self portrait

Weird kitty keyboard that randomly turns on in the middle of the night.

S learning how to use the flash feature on the camera.

My good side.

My better side... Hey-oh!

Don't be a stereotype - turn off the television and go outside!

Get a bottle of bubbles. Kids freaking love bubbles. 

When bubbles attack...

Punch holes in the lid of an old glass jar. Catch fireflies at dusk.

Turn on the hose and get wet. Fill up water balloons, water guns, and buckets and have a good old fashion water fight.

Have a nature scavenger hunt. Give the kids a list of items to look for in your own backyard or local park. Hunt for a pretty flower, an unusual looking bug, or a feather. They can find a cool looking rock and turn it into a pet rock.

S gave me this pet rock 3 years ago. It hasn't peed on the floor yet...
 Which is more than I can say about the other pets in this house.

You can also go to the local library and check out books for free. Libraries are great. They have children's story times. You can read a few chapters in peace while the kids are engrossed in a Shel Silverstein poetry reading. Some libraries even host free craft or activity programs for kids. Get your kids a library card... it makes them feel all grown up.

That's all I've got. Hopefully, my suggestions will come in handy if your kids ask you for some summertime entertainment. If all else fails, you can always use my mom's old standby:

If you're bored, you can go clean your room!


  1. Very cool and very good!! It pays to have a creative parent....

  2. Myself - I don't have any human kids - except my husband (he totally counts, right?) LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, your ideas! Love this post!!! I will probably make use of some of these myself... Perhaps a fort ;)

  3. Heather P - Husbands absolutely do count. I definitely recommend the fort! Thank you for reading!! Love,

  4. I don't have any kiddos of my own, but these are some of the best memories from childhood and some of my fondest from babysitting. I love summer.

  5. Your to do list reminds me of mine...especially the last item. I had tix that i won on the radio to the georgia aquarium and i couldnt find them for months. So it was on my to do list for awhile. I finally found them one day while cleaning out a drawer. :-)

  6. Dear Nicole,
    We're actually going to the GA aquarium at the end of this month! A dear friend of ours, serving overseas, purchased the tickets for us when he found out we've never been. I can't wait to see it! As for the Neil Diamond tickets... I found them behind my jewelry box. I had them wedged in the dresser mirror and I guess they slid down one day. I think I looked for them for a month. It was a great day when I was able to cross that item off my list! Now if we could just find that Home Depot gift card from Christmas...

    Thank you so much for reading!!

  7. This is hilarious! Thanks for the laughs - I love that picture of Malcolm and think you really should make it into your Christmas card this year :) love!

    1. Dear Diana,
      Expect a Malcolm Christmas Card this year!!

  8. What a great list, Terese! Remember, if anybody gets bored they can come clean our house too!


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