crafting with children / MOTHERHOOD / simple questions

ONE simple question, no. 7

One simple question button

Sometimes it's hard to be five. Especially when your older sister is off gallivanting and swimming and having who knows what kind of fun with a friend, and you're stuck at home with your boring old mom, and your little sister who repeats everything you say and fights you for the tree swing.

This is when the mantra begins, "What can I do that's FUN?!?"

If you asked my mother, I'm sure she'd back me up on the fact that I tended to be the perpetually bored child. Especially on Sundays. But my boredom, if I recall correctly, usually led to good things like puttering down at the stream or walking around the house with a tape recorder–reading the newspaper and writing my own radio ads–many of which involved a flushing of the toilet and lots of hushed giggling in the background.

I believe boredom is a good thing for children to experience. Because it often leads to amazing bouts of creativity.

However, it only seems like karma that Mary would be asking me the same question I'm sure I hounded my mom with for many, many years and many, many lazy Sunday afternoons.

one simple question, no. 7

Yesterday, I saved the day with painting en plein air. It did the trick and got us through a tough patch of boredom until Dan got home from work and Emma returned from her playdate. (only to drown her sister in stories of how much fun she had. Thanks, Em.)

But I believe it is good for a parent to have a boredom busting arsenal.

So here's my simple question for today:

How do you answer the "What can I do for fun?" question? What activities are in your boredom busting arsenal? What ideas do you throw out to your children in hopes that they'll latch on to one? Between all of you creative mamas, I think it will be a great resource for all of us to share our ideas.

Here's to a boredom-induced, creative summer!

One simple question button

Sometimes it's hard to be five. Especially when your older sister is off gallivanting and swimming and having who knows what kind of fun with a friend, and you're stuck at home with your boring old mom, and your little sister who repeats everything you say and fights you for the tree swing.

This is when the mantra begins, "What can I do that's FUN?!?"

If you asked my mother, I'm sure she'd back me up on the fact that I tended to be the perpetually bored child. Especially on Sundays. But my boredom, if I recall correctly, usually led to good things like puttering down at the stream or walking around the house with a tape recorder–reading the newspaper and writing my own radio ads–many of which involved a flushing of the toilet and lots of hushed giggling in the background.

I believe boredom is a good thing for children to experience. Because it often leads to amazing bouts of creativity.

However, it only seems like karma that Mary would be asking me the same question I'm sure I hounded my mom with for many, many years and many, many lazy Sunday afternoons.

one simple question, no. 7

Yesterday, I saved the day with painting en plein air. It did the trick and got us through a tough patch of boredom until Dan got home from work and Emma returned from her playdate. (only to drown her sister in stories of how much fun she had. Thanks, Em.)

But I believe it is good for a parent to have a boredom busting arsenal.

So here's my simple question for today:

How do you answer the "What can I do for fun?" question? What activities are in your boredom busting arsenal? What ideas do you throw out to your children in hopes that they'll latch on to one? Between all of you creative mamas, I think it will be a great resource for all of us to share our ideas.

Here's to a boredom-induced, creative summer!

31 comments on “ONE simple question, no. 7”

  1. That’s a hard one. Mine love playing with clay or play-doh and I don’t really let them do it all that much because they always make a big mess so that might be something. I also want to get some of the Ed Emberley books because Katie would love them. Wet felting wool is another thing I have up my sleeve, we’ve made beads in the past but I think we might try rocks this year. I think the trick might be to hold some things in reserve so they’re really fun when you need something to keep them occupied. Also, it seems like messy things are good boredom busters too.

  2. Taking out the big bin of recyclables for a “big” art project usually keeps them busy for a good while. If I ship them outside then giving them paint rollers and brushes to paint the house with water works. I keep a big bin of rice that they can play with using pots, pans and whatever else they find in the kitchen.My girls love to play with Barbies but I’m not so fond of the Barbie clothes so now I hand them a big bin of my fabric scraps and wrap and tie their own clothes.Can’t wait to see all the ideas.

  3. I always make sure I have plenty of arts-n-crafts on hand. Sometimes it is fun to simply color or make something out of our supplies… but I make sure I hide things away so when they are brought out again they seem brand new. My daughter is 7 and claims she is bored every single weekend. There are only so many playdates I can handle! When she claims she is bored I have to simply say “time to use that wonderful imagination of yours”. It is hard though. I want her to be able to entertain herself but I know there will be a time when I will want to sit and color and she will have more interesting things to do without me!

  4. Yesterday we had rain for the seventh day in a row. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do to make the day feel fun, but then I remembered that I had bought all the supplies needed for gumdrop/marshmallow construction (toothpicks and straws in addition to the candy) but we’d never gotten to it. That was a real day saver. The kids loved it!

    I plan to get a large plastic bin out of the basement and gather up supplies and kits that we have scattered around the house so that I won’t have to go searching when my kids ask for something fun. Mad Libs; make your own kaleidescopes; beading kits; sock puppets; scrapbook supplies; clothespin dolls; paper airplanes, etc… Basically anything that isn’t normally readily available to them (as are the paper, crayons, glue, etc…) So far, I haven’t needed that box, but if this rain keeps up, I’m going to need it soon!

  5. this is timely.i just had the girls sit down the other day and write a list of at least 10 things they can do when they are bored. their ideas involved reading, drawing, making books, baking and taking a nap. i added household chores like vacuuming and folding laundry and cleaning closets so their ideas look even more inviting!right now, they are upstairs giving hair wraps to their dolls – i gave them my embroidery floss and let them go. sometimes using special supplies or tools is all it takes around here.i am also a big fan of making glycerin soap – it’s easy and relatively mess free. we don’t do it often, either, so when i pull out the molds, they are pretty happy about it.

  6. Three words, “Bored peels potatoes”. You might not like this, but when raising my children that is how I felt. I had compassion up to a point, I read, museumed, swam with, baked, row boated and all the good fun things Moms do with their kids. But sometimes a Mom needs to be just that, a Mom, not a playmate. That is truly one of my pet peeves. Boredom happens to all of us and relying on ourselves to dig out from it paves the way for our imaginations to grow, as well as fosters belief in ourselves. It never came down to it, but I was prepared, anyone who was old enough to verbalize boredom was old enough to to wash, or peel potatoes. Being resourceful beat potatoes every time.

  7. Boredom busting involves getting in the car and driving to the nearest creek with cookies. We play in the water and then sit under the shade and munch away.

  8. I haven’t had to deal with this yet. E is now four, so I’m waiting for it. But so far, we just make sure she always has free access to paper + markers, her dress-up box, blocks, and lots of books. That seems to keep the girl happy so far. She’s very into drawing and imaginary play though, so she’d rather do those things than anything else.

  9. you took the words out of my mouth, that is the ultimate entertainment. my girls have been constructed numerous different houses with doors and windows etc.baking cookies and decorating them always works for us as well. we use the ginger bread cookie cutter, and dress the cookies up with royal icing after they are baked. followed by a tea party that is including all of their dolls also. this could take an entire afternoon.cant waut to read more ideas.tali

  10. I was going to say…weed the garden…wash some dishes…clean your room. That’s what I got when I was a kid…we say we’ll never be like our moms, but here I am. BTW, my kids (though they’re older) like never say they’re bored.

  11. Mud pies. Preferably with real cooking utensils.

    A game of ‘Garden chefs’ usually guarantees a little respite from entertaining my boys. I am only required to ‘taste’ and play restaurant critic at the end of it all. Oh, and wash the clothes afterwards.

  12. Here’s a “bored” post I wrote back when I first started blogging: http://maymomvt.blogspot.com/2007/05/im-bored.html

    A favorite–all afternoon–activity is to “make potions.” Give them a pile of old bottles, a mixing bowl, spoon, and then any old deteriorating spices from your cupboard and old bath gels, etc., from your bathroom, set them free (outside in the shade) among the mint leaves and rosebuds to mix and mix. An old thing of dish soap is good. CORKS ARE A MUST to make it all extra special. Capes would also be a good accessory–wizardy, you know.

  13. Mmm. We also tend to pull out paint when we’re bored. Or play a board game or do a puzzle. And cooking usually helps. Or just eating a snack. Though is that bad, feeding boredom?!?!

  14. Another excellent question, Molly!

    Lots of good responses already, too. Sometimes I dread getting out supplies when they are bored b/c it seems like it takes more time to set up and take down the activity (painting, clay, etc.) than the length of time for which they are engaged. I need help in this area as well.

    Love Erin’s list-making suggestion.

  15. we love to make paper bag puppets. we choose a favorite story and then make the puppets to go along. then, of course, we have a puppet show!

    my 5 year old also loves to sew and embroider. so when boredom hits, that’s usually what she wants to do- sew.

    oh! one more thought! i recently bought all of these clearance martha stewart craft packs at walmart. like for $2-$3 an activity. we made 6 animal puppets yesterday out of one pack! i do this time to time. i have a pretty good stock pile of make ready crafts, different from the ones we do every day.

  16. My arsenal always includes three things-bubbles, shaving cream and Sculpey with a box of old screws, wires, bolts, buttons and the like for impromptu sculptures.

    One of my son’s favorite activities is the”slip n’ slide” in the tub with shaving cream!!

  17. It’s tough in my house because Jake had my full attention for over nine years before his only sibling was born. He’s been forced to ‘entertain’ himself much more in the last two years. I learned a lesson about that though – enforce more ‘non-mommy’ time for the baby starting at a young age. We recently released our televisions into the wild and I admit that I still miss them but it does help with forcing creativity to happen!

  18. I remember hearing the creator of sponge bob square pants (yeah, I know, I hate that show) saying the exact same thing about boredom. That kids should have opportunities to be bored because it leads to the greatest creativity. I think “boredom” is often a feeling of something else that kids don’t really know how to express. It’s like part of it is they need to bug someone, they need that attention. My kids have always played happily on their own, so I think they want to do something with someone when they are bored-and you are right, it’s often when one of the others is out doing something “fun”.

    Me, I threaten to find them a chore to do if they can’t find something themselves. I say “well there’s windows that need washing”, or “have you done the dishes”…usually works. At least they go and be bored somewhere else. Usually it means they start annoying a sibling, but that can sometimes turn into a game.

    When the kids were younger we painted, played with playdough. I found it was best if I came up with something outlandish-once I got a long roll of paper, painted their feet and had them run up and down and foot paint, playing with the hose in the mud or something like that. This summer we are making these: http://annwood.net/blog/2009/05/29/cardboard-stampede/I cut out the horses and I just say to my daughter: do you want to paint a horse? That usually keeps her happy for a while…and it’s nice to see our stampede of horses growing.

    We talked to the kids before summer started (mine are 15, 13, 9 and 8) and made them think about what they wanted to achieve over the summer. I remind them of these things. It’s been hard because we’ve had so much rain for the last month. So far, only my youngest has done the “I’m bored thing” and I got her painting a horse.

  19. Georgia, I’d like to give you a big virtual KISS for showing me Ann Wood’s horse pattern. I had seen them on her blog before and LOVED them, but I had no idea she’d shared a pattern/tutorial. You know the crazy horse-love around this house. And with the way we go through boxes of cereal, we’ll be set with all the materials! thank you!!!!

  20. sarah, this is a great reminder and makes me think i’ll take the wooden play kitchen (that got temporarily moved out of the house this winter) and move it to the back deck for the summer!

  21. A whole heap of blankets – to stretch over a picnic table or dining room table to make a fort.

    And “painting” with shaving cream. Put a blob on the table and let them go to town with their hands. Easy clean up and they smell good!

  22. oh molly, i hear you on this one – what great comments and suggestions everyone has given. (i definitely need to not break down all the cardboard boxes for recycling next time.)with our girls being the same age, they do play together a lot – this is great and all, and they are very close to one another. however, i am a firm believer that everyone needs their own space as well. i can feel unrest brewing when i hear fabulous imaginative play morph into one sister telling the other what to say and do. typically that is when i’m met with a serious little face “*sigh* i’m bored…” or better yet, “*sigh* i’m boring…” to which i have to control my laughter before offering a list of 3 or 4 things to do by themselves like paint, read, clay, doodle letters, puzzles, go outside, make a tea party for their dolls, or play cinderella (aka sweep). i’m not the least bit insulted when none of my suggestions are taken to heart, because it usually results in a wandering off of sorts to create her own happiness. and that’s basically what i was hoping for – that they can make their own magical moments.

  23. Go to the library! For your independent readers, you’re good to go. For the younger ones, pick up some book and tape kits–maybe some new music CDs, or some household craft books that they can look at the pictures in to find inspiration for making their own crafts!

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