I think this has been one of the things that changed in the most recent lockdown: As a whole family we have been soooooo bored at times. Does that sound familiar? You have done all the crafting, and playing in the garden and going for walks or exercise around the block to exhaustion. You've done lots of cooking and baking together. You've played computer games and board games, and tickle fights and tag. You've cycled and played football and jogged and jumped on the trampoline. You've read and played Jenga and Dominos and Monopoly.... And not even zoom calls or watching TV can hold any more excitement.
Before the first lockdown, I knew we were running around a lot and often out and about too much - to the extent where my three would try and negotiate a day or afternoon at home during the week or at the weekend. Constantly travelling, seeing friends, out at National Trust properties, going to swimming or gymnastics lessons, football practice and games, and the 1001 other things we would do. Now, like everyone else, we miss real, live, human connection and interaction. But, as this global pandemic gradually eases and we still need to be sensible about getting back together with friends over the coming months, what on earth do we do when boredom strikes again?
I recently came across these ideas and I have LOVED them: We sat down as a family and made a list of all the things that we think we would enjoy doing when we are bored next time. When you are in that 'state of boredom' it is hard to come up with things that interest you - but with a pre-made list of ideas, you get to kick-start your creative juices and even if 70% of the things on the list are not what you feel like doing at that moment in time, it is still a helpful first step to finding something that the kids will enjoy doing. Plus it gives your children a sense of autonomy and independence - they can solve their own struggles and you as the parent, trust, empower and support them to do this.
Another thing that I have found, is that the more I restrict screen time (as hard as this is at times!) - the less bored and more creative my kids are (and me too) - it is as if they engage their brain differently. Rather than just expecting to be entertained by a screen (or by me), suddenly all sorts of games and toys come out and the children are immersed in their own world. To be fair, the children often need some encouragement, along the lines of: "I know it is hard when you are bored, but you've got this. What other things could you do instead of watching TV or playing computer games?" Initially there is some resistance, but eventually they go off and find something that they want to do.
Finally, if I have constantly been busy myself and not had the headspace or time to spend some real quality time with them all, or with each of them individually, this has a direct impact on behaviour and boredom levels. There are more fights, more whining, more pettiness, backtalk and tantrums. On some days this escalates into yelling and me telling them off. You are exhausted yourself and the last thing you want to do is now play with trains, or Barbies, or lightsabers ... BUT on the days when you do have that energy, you will be amazed at the difference it makes. When I manage to take a step back and reconnect and fill their individual cups, the transformation amazes me every single time. Not only do I feel connected to each of them, we laugh and giggle together, but after about 20 minutes the children will happily let me go off and do my chores again, and they continue playing well by themselves, or together.
How do you combat the boredom? What are your tried and tested methods? I would love to hear from you.
I hope you get to enjoy these last few weeks of lockdown - with warmer weather and the knowledge that we are (hopefully!) nearing the end of the tunnel. After lockdown, I look forward to giving all the people I have missed so much a huge big hug! :-) And, at the same time to take on board the lessons I have learnt during lockdown and make time and space for the slower way of life that lockdown has allowed us to experience.