Summer and Free Time

Ahh, the sounds of summer. No, this isn’t about the crack of the bat, or fireworks, or even the sizzle of the barbecue. This is about the droning whines of your offspring. Maybe this summer you’ve heard statements like:

“Dad, There’s nothing to do around here.”

“I’m bored.” (And they make “bored” a two-syllable word.)

Now, please don’t use this as a reason to jam your kids’ schedules with activities just to shut them up or give them a full day of chores to “teach them a lesson” (although activities and chores definitely have positive places in a child’s life).

First, remember that boredom isn’t a bad thing for kids—even though we can’t really tell them that. For some, the feeling of boredom is what leads them to think creatively, reflect, even meditate on some level. A child might discover a new interest or skill while tinkering around on the piano, drawing with markers, fiddling with lumber scraps, or looking at tiny things in the backyard grass. Or she might make a new friend in the neighborhood.

So, some boredom is good, but it’s also good to help them find good things to do with some of the time that’s left.

Dad, be well prepared for those “I’m bored” comments.

We can help them come up with fun, stimulating activities. Let’s brainstorm a little.

Reading is always a good idea. But, the last thing you want to do is snap at your kid, “You’re bored? Go read a book!” Instead, try to trick them into reading. Come down from the attic blowing the dust off one of your old favorite novels and refuse to let them see it until they beg you. Pick up an appropriate sports or hobby magazine on your way home from work and toss it to them from across the room. Drag them to the air-conditioned library and immerse yourself in a few good books of varying topics—that’s a great role model. Or grab two copies of a short but thought-provoking book and challenge your high schooler to read it with you—one chapter a day—discussing it along the way. There are many more great ideas out there if you look.

Beyond books, why not suggest a new hobby? Maybe something sports related, or something that requires creativity like painting, magic, origami, or jewelry making. Come home one day with an unusual gift like a unicycle or telescope. Give your child raw materials and ignite his imagination.

Encourage them to volunteer somewhere in town: a nursing home, a homeless shelter, or a crisis pregnancy center. Or how about babysitting for free one day a week for a single mom? Together you can surely come up with some great options.

Dad, with your help, this summer your children can have fun, be productive, and maybe even grow in wisdom and maturity.

Two more things:

What would you add to these ideas? How do you handle your kids’ whines about being bored? Leave an idea or two for other dads on our Facebook page.

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There may be no more important work than turning the hearts of fathers to their children, and that’s what this is all about. We’re seeking to repair, rebuild and restore effective fathering for the benefit of children and families everywhere.