By Michal Lloyd
It is Family Fun Month, which is a great time to learn about boredom.
I know what you’re thinking: boredom is the opposite of fun. However, I would argue that boredom can be enjoyable; it is something ranch kids learned a lot about before modern technology came along. Once the farm work was done, farm kids had long expanses of unstructured time, which ultimately allowed them to better understand their thoughts. It is essential to teach our kids about the benefits of boredom because it gives them tools that could help them with uncomfortable situations, situations which lead to the use or misuse a substance.
We constantly reach for something to avoid discomfort, whether it be food, TV, alcohol, or even drugs. Every once in a while, we need to sit with our pain. For example, as adults, it isn’t uncommon for us to automatically reach for a glass of wine or a drink when we finish a long workday. Why not try to push that automatic reach off for thirty minutes? Why not allow ourselves a new experience? We walk through the door, throw down our keys, and do the same thing repeatedly, without being aware or mindful of what we are doing. The amount of data and information that comes at us every day is overwhelming. Turning off the noise can give us time to process it all.
Your Boredom/Do Nothing Starter Kit:
- Turn off the noise. Sit on a park bench and listen to the birds.
- Turn off the radio when you are driving and listen to the wind. You might even do that zippy thing with your hand out the window that you did as a child, remember? If you stop the noise, the doing, the podcast for even just a minute, you might hear what is in your head.
- Take five minutes without a phone conversation or visual stimulation. You can do this by walking around the block or even just breathing. It is going to be uncomfortable at first, but you might start to enjoy it. Set a timer, I dare you!
Shockingly, boredom isn’t the only option for fun, and the best part is that activities can teach your children about themselves. And when you aren’t there, your kids are the ones making the decisions for themselves. Ultimately, you are providing them with ways to understand what makes them happy. Life is a journey you can’t take for them, as much as we want to. They must skin their knees, lose at cards, and have complicated relationships. For kids, play is work. Here are a couple of fun activities to do with your kids during Family Fun Month:
Why I like nines, first, it is fun and fast-paced. Second, it helps your kids learn to plan. Which cards do they need to play first? Which cards should they hold on to? I guess they must “know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em.” You can learn all of the Nines card game rules here.
Tent or Tepee
Sometimes parents need some rest, setting up a tent or tepee, so when your kids get up in the morning, they can play in a special place. Set up a tent, fort or tepee in an inside play area, the night before with games, crayons, and reading materials. Then you can roll out of bed and make those Mickey Mouse pancakes you all love so much.
Prepare and Enjoy a Family Meal
Decades of research have found that children who regularly eat family meals have lower rates of alcohol and drug misuse, improved mental and physical health, and increased academic achievement. Eating together as a family may protect children and youth from depression and risky behaviors by providing a regular and comforting context to check in with parents about their day-to-day activities and connect with them emotionally. Find ideas for simple, budget-friendly recipes, conversation starters, and activities to help you connect around the dinner table at Eat Together Idaho and The Family Dinner Project.
I’m going to be honest, I’m not a big fan of screens. I love technology, but I think at times we sacrifice too much when we hook our children up to a television screen or a smartphone. So, I’m suggesting taking family fun time off-screen just for a bit. Here are some resources for more fun family activities for Idaho parents to enjoy in their homes and across the state:
- Idaho Family Vacation – 10 Fun Things to do in Idaho with Kids!
- Summer Activities for the Family, Idaho Falls Magazine
About the author: Michal Lloyd is the Management Assistant for the Idaho Office of Drug Policy (ODP). She believes that Idaho is only as strong and compassionate as the families who live here and aims to help ODP and Be the Parents provide resources to help improve the lives of people in our communities.
Lloyd grew up and raised her daughter in Idaho. Her professional background is in hospitality, in the past she has managed a backcountry lodge on the Main Salmon and a boutique hotel in Boise. Like many of us, she has family experience with addiction and knows that it takes many hands to ease the pain inflicted by substance misuse.