boredom

Everyone knows that parenting is hard. It's practically a cliché to say so, but it's true, so people say it anyway. There are the difficulties I anticipated, like sleep deprivation and temper tantrums and the long road to potty training. There are the difficulties I didn't anticipate, like having kids who never really took naps ever (at least, not reliably for more than a week at a time) and extreme pickiness with food. But as far as kids go, I have to say I've gotten pretty lucky.

Lately, we've hit a new stumbling block: summer boredom. School is out for the summer, which means preschool is done, too. (Anya, by the way, loved every minute of preschool; I had nothing to worry about!) Daniel is done with preschool for good now, and until he starts kindergarten this fall, we have our last free, innocent summer ahead of us. I was looking forward to it. I like summers that are relatively unscheduled. I like swimming and gardening and going to state parks and watching the hot air balloon launch at the park and picking berries and finding fun new ways to explode water balloons and visits from grandparents, and we're planning on all of that stuff this year.

The problem is that Daniel is bored already. I think a couple of different factors are at work here. First of all, he's really ready for kindergarten. He turned 5 this winter, and if it weren't for the extra cost, I would have sent him to preschool every day this semester instead of just part of the week. Second, I think he is essentially an extrovert (if a cautious one) and benefits from having lots of social stimulation. This means that when he is with me all day long we run into trouble. Playing with toys, playing with Anya, playing with me only hold his interest for so long before he starts moping and whining about having nothing to do. Then he begs to watch TV and when I say no, finds ways to annoy me. He turns the radio on and off, he sets the timer on the microwave, he'll choose random CDs and start playing them, skipping through all the tracks after a few seconds (this drives me nuts).

This, by the way, happens whether we're home all day or spent the whole morning somewhere fun, like preschool, say, or the children's museum or the zoo or the pool (it's been a hot week; we've been at the pool plenty). It's not like I never take them anywhere fun.

Anya does not have this problem. She is really quite good at keeping herself entertained and is not socially needy at all. Whether this is a personality trait or simply because she is younger, I don't know.

It's not as though we never have playtime with friends, but I guess we need more of it. It might be time to look into some type of organized/team sport for Daniel, too (other than swimming lessons, I mean). I have never looked forward to that phase of parenthood where my main job is schlepping kids around to playdates and sports practice, but that might be what he needs.

Comments

katie said…
It totally depends on the kid, but I find one cure for boredom is scheduling. My kids are at different stages than yours, but I decided to schedule the heck out of our days, because it's always better to have too much planned and back out of some of it, then to have too little planned. I also instituted a few summer rules, like they will help me with a chore every morning, I choose any movies they watch during the week (so I can make sure they are educational or interactive), and we even have scheduled play time/choice time. It may sound like too much, but I proposed it to them, and they were excited.
katie said…
also, http://childhood101.com/playopedia/
Anonymous said…
Katie's idea sounds like a great idea! The same thing is very helpful for me in teaching daycare. It leaves me with less anxiety! I love knowing I can subtract things from the daily schedule, but I don't have to scamper about trying to come up with things to add! (Although there's still freedom to add, obviously, if you're inspired.)

ann

I also say now's a great time to teach more chores! Can he read? One of the best moms I know gave her sons cleaning lists as soon as they learned how to read. (They had already been doing chores.) First thing on it? How to clean their bathroom!

I used to be an "I'm bored" kid, and I thought we never did anything fun, but looking back, I think my mom did do a lot with us.

Maybe exploring a different section of the library?
Anonymous said…
(I don't know why I put my name in the middle of that. :-) I meant to put it at the end!)

ann
Pam said…
I loved playing soccer when I was a kid. I hope you find something that works just right for Daniel. My mom used to give me research projects to do with our set of encyclopedias. I remember distinctly learning about the Joshua tree...
Claire said…
Katie just posted another great site:

http://organizing.yourway.net/101-ways-to-embrace-summer/

Hopefully we can get together more this summer... e-mail me what kind of times you have available.
Animal said…
Haven't run into this yet, but I appreciate your thoughts (and those of your commenters). I just put the whole "paint-with-water" thing into action the other day…but I remembered reading it on your blog, like, *forever* ago. So, it's good to know that this "boredom" stage might be on the horizon. T'anks!

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