Who doesn't battle afternoon boredom?
Let's not take a show of hands. Rest assured, my hand would be raised.
You know the story. Three o'clock. Children squabbling. A high schooler STILL needs help with Algebra. And dinner? It's frozen on the counter!
Afternoons can be hard. Yet, after years of beating afternoon boredom, I know the efforts I made toward defeating "I'm bored" syndromes--in myself as well as my children--mattered. In fact, hobbies launched and rediscovered interests became catalysts for entrepreneurial pursuits, high school courses, and career choices.
Beating afternoon boredom is worth every ounce of time and energy we can muster.
At a recent mom's event, a group of ladies gathered after to ask me how our family beats the afternoon wearies.
Our strategies varied with life seasons.
When we had two eager, active boys, we:
- spent many afternoons outside.
- visited local parks.
- had Popsicle and wading pool parties--adding measuring cups, a bucket, and garden hose to change things up--as long as the weather allowed.
- ran around outside playing with squirt guns.
- played in the lawn sprinkler. Notice the hose and water trend?
- read a book together while sitting on a blanket outside or on the couch inside.
- took an afternoon bath with bubbles and wrote with shaving cream on the walls (great for practicing letter formation).
- took nature scavenger hunts.
- played hopscotch or jumped rope.
- created with sidewalk chalk on the driveway.
- painted the garage door with water and paint brushes.
- tossed bean bags.
- bought a basketball hoop and gathered children from the neighborhood to play.
- played wiffle ball in the dead end street.
- created with watercolors.
- encouraged outdoor adventures and independent studies.
When we had lots of littles with a few bigs who needed afternoon help, we:
- sat on the floor in the hallway across from the bathroom so I could supervise littles in the tub while also helping an older sibling with math or editing papers.
- spread a blanket under a shade tree for afternoon tutoring while the littles rode bikes around the driveway or played hide-n-seek.
- listened to audio books, our favorites being Jim Weiss recordings and Your Story Hour, again while mom worked with the bigs.
- offered play dough, pattern blocks, old magazines to cut, or watercolor paints.
- enjoyed playing in the sandbox while mom and older siblings sat nearby and completed math or mom edited papers.
- used masking tape to create a "village roadway" on the carpet so littles could build houses and garages for their toy cars and play "village".
- made a masking tape hopscotch on the carpet for littles to be active when weather wouldn't permit us to be outside.
- asked bigs to go on a date and take learning to new surroundings.
- discussed the plot and characters of a current read while running errands or taking a sibling to practice.
- encouraged bigs to work on independent studies.
When we had a menagerie of ages, we:
- enjoyed front porch read-aloud time.
- created with Lite Brite.
- went to visit great-grandma.
- sat together on the couch and read books of interest. Farm study was always a favorite.
- took a teen or young adult on a date to talk about things that mattered to them.
- used a coupon and bought five pounds of clay at a local craft store.
- spent time at a local park or community swimming pool.
- made brownies for the elderly neighbor and went to visit.
- built a fort outside.
- dug a hole in the backyard (not my favorite or my idea, but it was sibling generated and encouraged collaboration and working together).
- made impromptu afternoon library runs.
- created something yummy in the kitchen, often to "surprise" Dad when he returned from work.
- made cards for family member's birthdays.
- enjoyed spin art.
- cared for our porch science projects.
- spent the afternoon creating with watercolor.
Go ahead! Beat the afternoon boredom. YOU can do it! It will be worth your time and effort.
And, in the process, your children and young adults will learn valuable life skills: time management; collaboration; communication and conflict resolution; work ethic; teamwork; working independently; and caring about others ideas, thoughts, and feelings.