Tag Archives: boredom

Avoid the Dreaded B-Word: 10 Ideas to Fight Tween Boredom

I was recently invited to share a post with the Savvy Auntie community with ideas for summer fun, and I thought I’d repost here in hopes you’ll be inspired to make the most of these last few weeks of summer!  Here’s a link to my original article, which I’ve re-posted here:

Keeping kids entertained as the lazy days of summer drag on can be a challenge – and tweens can be a particularly tough crowd.  There are few phrases as cringe-inducing for an auntie as a whiny, “I’m booooooored!”  While sidewalk chalk and a garden sprinkler could be all it takes to remedy this for a younger audience, finding creative ways to entertain tweens takes a bit more ingenuity.

While it is important to encourage overscheduled kids to work through boredom on their own from time to time, a Savvy Auntie armed with fun ideas can be a hero when the B-Word looms large!  Here are some creative ideas to keep in your back pocket:

Cross Train Your Brain

Get in the Olympic spirit with a Brain Decathlon.  Gather a collection of 10 logic and reasoning puzzles and set up a rotation for an afternoon of brain fitness. Tweens build confidence, creativity, and problem solving skills… but they’ll think it’s all fun and games!

Become a YouTube Sensation

As the countless videos of cats playing piano illustrate, anyone with a smartphone or flip cam can create and share video with the world.  Film your niece’s rendition of Call Me Maybe using sock puppets or your nephew wowing the world with magic tricks… you never know what will go viral!

Play With Your Food

Tie on your aprons and have fun with food!  Challenge tweens to an Iron Chef-style competition, with a secret ingredient each must incorporate into three dishes.  Cheese, bananas, sprinkles… you choose the twist and provide cookbooks or food magazines for inspiration. Let tweens plan menus, make a grocery run, and get cooking!  Invite friends over and present your creations to a Judge’s Table.

Get PINspired!

Pinterest is a goldmine for creative craft ideas!  Check out some great DIY boards from Makedo, ThinkFun, and Babble and choose your next crafting adventure together.

Stalk the Wild Cupcake

Put your sweet tooth to the test and track down the best cupcake in town.  Conduct site visits and taste tests, taking notes and narrowing down the finalists.  Surprise the winning shopkeeper with a special award you design and present!

Super-Size Me

Even the typical toothbrush is riveting when its 6 feet long!  Stock up on supplies like recycled bottles, wire hangers, newspaper, and paint, and create a large-scale version of an everyday small object.  Get messy with paper mache, and add buttons, cotton balls, yarn and other found objects as decorations.  Turn your living room into a gallery and invite neighbors over for the grand opening.

Mini Golf Masters

With a little creativity, mini golf becomes much more than swiping a ball into a clown’s mouth. Scout out local courses (or pools, arcades, whatever destination most excites you) and spend the week visiting several, clipboard in hand.  Set criteria for evaluating – quality of hot dogs at the snack bar, ball color options, etc. – and create an insider guide to the best of the best!

Opposite Day

Ridiculousness knows no bounds when you commit to a day where nothing works as it should.  Start your day with a spaghetti dinner, read a magazine back to front, only respond to your name when said backwards… let tweens see how far they can take the theme!

Move Over Frommer’s

Create your own guidebook to your town.  This fun activity will help visiting nieces and nephews explore your city or get to know their own hometown better.  Take walks to find little-known landmarks – or invent your own!  Use an online photo service to create a hardcover guidebook filled with your pictures, captions, and funny anecdotes.

Old Movie Night

Let your tween pick the film – the catch is it has to be from the 1970s or earlier. Have fun in the kitchen preparing retro snacks like pineapple upside-down cake for the ‘50s or fondue for the ‘60s and enjoy some wholesome (and tasty!) family fun.


What activities do your tweens love?  Please share your ideas here and help build the Tween Toolkit!

Let Boredom Ring!

The other day, two very different articles crossed my desk on the subject or boredom.
First, one of my favorite dad blogs posted “Top 10 Phrases That Will Reduce a Parent To Tears” – sure enough in the number 8 spot was…. “I’m Boooored!”

Which got me thinking… why is it that these two words are almost always thrown out in a whiny, most unhappy context?  Why, in today’s overscheduled world, aren’t kids doing back flips and celebrating the rare opportunity they find themselves free to exclaim, “I’m Bored!”

A friend sent the second piece on boredom my way via Fast Company.  This article Want to Be More Creative? Get Bored! encourages us to embrace the “creative pause” that boredom affords.  This piece echoed my belief that we need to flip the script and see boredom as an opportunity for game-changing Aha moments.  When do you get your best ideas?  Whether in the shower or zoned out on the treadmill, it’s often when we’re on auto pilot and our minds left idle that flashes of genius strike… reading The NY Times on your waterproof Kindle may actually cost you the next great idea!

One of my favorite quotes on the importance of embracing boredom comes from Steve Jobs.  Arguably one of the most innovative minds the world has known, Jobs worried deeply about the future of boredom.  In a conversation with Wired Magazine, Jobs said, “I’m a big believer in boredom.  Boredom allows one to indulge in curiosity, and out of curiosity comes everything.  All the [technology] stuff is wonderful, but having nothing to do can be wonderful, too.”

Often we equate boredom with unproductive, wasted time, or a failure on our part to provide adequate stimulation for our children or students.  This mindset is most certainly conveyed to our kids, effectively teaching them to shy away from opportunities to let their minds take them away to stretch, explore, and create.  Retraining ourselves and our children to not only manage boredom, but to seek it out and use it as a time to run wild and create is key to building problem solving skills for the 21st century.

While building in “boredom blocks” is sadly not feasible in most schools today, parents can be more mindful about the importance of providing these opportunities for boredom.  Kids used to one activity after the next may initially struggle with the prospect of this unplanned play time (cue those 2 magic words!) – encourage your child to see this as an opportunity to dig deeper into a question s/he has, redesign a living space in your home with a new purpose in mind, find new uses for a household device… the possibilities are endless – and so are the places your imagination can take you!

I hope someday soon that the dreaded “I’m Bored!” becomes music to our ears!