By Katie Bencze
I was just wrapping my head around the fact that spring is here, when it dawned on me that summer is soon to follow. I admit that I cringe a bit when I start thinking about the high heat and long days. Add in the fact that my kids will be out of school and I start to sweat a bit. The thought of helping them find something to entertain themselves every day of the summer always makes me roll my eyes and bang my head against the keyboard a few times. OK, perhaps I’m exaggerating a bit. I love my kids dearly and I do enjoy having them around a bit more, but I have to admit that there are times that I wish I could just send them outside and tell them to be home for dinner like my parents did. These times include the constant presence of terms like: “Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom” and other gems like “I’mmmm boooooored.” So what to do, what to do?
After a year of “winging it” through a summer and feeling a bit frazzled now and then, I decided to do a little preplanning. Nothing fancy. I didn’t even have to think of the ideas. Between fellow moms, local resources, the Internet and my kids, we were able to create our very own…(drum roll) “Summer Fun Jar” (also known as the “Mom I’m Bored Jar”). This is not a new invention, I know, but it’s a worthy one! By taking the time to write down doable ideas, this not only helped me plan my days, but it gave the kids something to anticipate. And here’s the kicker- we also added in not so fun things like chores (dishes, cleaning rooms, etc.) Let’s face it, we can’t do something all the time, every day. The chores were a good down time and added an element that made the kids think before they whined or asked for the jar. In the end, it was amazing how fun it was to pick something for the next day and look forward to it. Plus, it took the burden off me to think of something spur of the moment and helped us save money, as most of our ideas were free (or close to it)! So as simple as this idea sounds, it worked well for us.
To make your own “Fun/Boredom Jar”, involve your kids. You can use a jar, coffee can, a bowl or whatever you have handy. You can decorate it or just stuff your ideas in it. I’ve seen ambitious people use Popsicle sticks, but personally, we just fold pieces of paper. You can always use websites like Pinterest to scout out more creative ideas.
As far as what to put in those jars, that’s up to you. Remember, you can put your favorites in more than once. Here’s what’s on our list thus far:
Water balloon fight, go to a park, science experiment (you can put individual experiments – the Internet is full of easy ones!), lemonade stand, go swimming, blow bubbles, do dishes, outdoor picnic, create a water wall, paper mâché animal, piñata, whip cream pie fight, clean room, read a book, play a board game, yard work, go to library, play in the dirt, scavenger hunt (use whatever you have around- we use toys.), make Flubber, road trip, play dress-up, quick math, bake something sweet, explore a museum, vacuum,build a racecar from a box, paint rocks, organize garage, back yard scrabble, chalk art, dance party, make a comic book, pick something at dollar store, find a fair/festival, make ice cream, fly a kite and enjoy your time together!