As Christmas break approaches, some of you might be thinking “Oh no...what am I going to do with my kids for two whole weeks?!” (No? Just me?)
I don’t know about your house, but at ours, boredom tends to set in pretty quickly over breaks when we don’t travel.
The first day of lounging around in pajamas is fun, but after that the whining takes over. I came up with a solution over our recent Thanksgiving break that worked really well for the problem of too-much-boredom over a school holiday.
My philosophy is that it’s not my job as a mom to entertain my kids. We can debate that as I’m open to other viewpoints. But in general, I think kids today have so much entertainment they don’t know what to do with it, and they should be required to stretch their own brains to come up with activities to pass the time when necessary.
My kids definitely don’t agree with me on this. When they’re bored, I’m the first one they come to. (And sadly, if I don’t produce, they’ll just move on to fighting with a sibling.) I can start to feel like I’m in a hostage situation by hour 2 of a school break, and I have generally good kids!
So I invented The Bored Jar. Because of my philosophy (see above) it was intended to be a consequence for whining to me about boredom. But since I’m not officially trying to win the Meanest Mom Ever award this year, I decided to add in a few fun ideas too. But the vast majority were meant to be things they don’t really want to do. (Chess against yourself anyone?)
Shockingly, my kids thought this jar was the most fun thing ever. I thought it would stop them from coming to me about their boredom, but the reverse happened. They started whining to me just so they could choose out of the bored jar! Well, whatever. My house has never been cleaner.
Here are the rules I established:
1- You shall choose from The Bored Jar immediately if overheard saying any variation of the phrases, “I’m bored,” or “I have nothing to do,” OR at the sole discretion of your mother or father should they even *sense* boredom in your demeanor.
2- You shall immediately perform whatever is instructed on the card you draw with a happy heart whether it is a chore, a bit of fun, or something much, much worse.
3- You may not draw another card, switch, or trade. You may only draw another card when your task has been completed. You shall return the card to the jar immediately after you have read it.
4- If you draw a task that you just did, you must do it again, unless granted a reprieve by your mother (reprieves will be issued based on degree of whininess that led to The Bored Jar drawing in the first place).
Weirdly, they just kept coming back for more. When I wrote the index cards, I tried to write them in a 1:1 ratio of chores to fun. As it became obvious that the jar was my kids’ new favorite game, I started adding more and more chores. After all, the point is to make them want to invent their own fun.
One last note on my card contents: NONE of the things inside the jar can require any involvement on my part. So no, at our house you won’t find “Fill up a kiddie pool in the kitchen with jello and splash around with the dog in it.” But that’s the beauty of this idea...how you customize it is entirely up to you.
Ready to make your own Bored Jar?
All you need is a jar and some slips of paper. Make them all the same color or the kids will get wise as to which pieces have their favorite tasks and which ones they should avoid.
Then, write one task on each piece of paper. Fold them all the same way, and put them in the jar. Done! You can be as creative as you’d like. And if you’re a much nicer mom than me and you want to put all fun stuff in there, no judgment. It’s an idea that you can use as a consequence or as a fun bonding experience. Either way, no boredom = holiday break win.
Here are the full contents of our jar (our kids range in age from 5-11):
- Clean your room
- Wash the pots and pans
- Workout of the Day: Run up and down the staircase 5 times (must time with a stopwatch)
- Play piano for 15 minutes
- Workout of the Day: 3 rounds of 10 burpees, 10 push ups, & 10 squats (must time with a stopwatch)
- Make a list of 20 things you’re thankful for
- Play chess against yourself
- Clean off and/or wipe down the kitchen table
- Write a loving note to one of your grandparents
- Brush your teeth
- Load or unload the dishwasher
- Write down 3 things Mom and Dad could do to be better parents
- FaceTime your grandparents
- Get a piece of gum
- Make sure everything is tidy and neat in the front entry closet
- Write down all the first and middle names of all the stuffed animals in your room. (Give them middle names if they don’t already have them).
- Make a Christmas present for Dad (maybe a coupon?)
- Write a note to Jesus about why you love him
- Walk through the house and write down how many things you can see that rhyme
- Wash the dog’s placemat
- Play hide and seek with the dog
- Use paper and scissors to make paper Barbie dolls or army men
- Play kinetic sand
- Clean your bathroom mirror
- Empty the upstairs garbage
- Memorize Philippians 2:14 and recite to Mom when ready
- Write down 5 things you love about your mom
- Go tell Mom she’s beautiful
- Vacuum your bathroom floor
- Put away laundry
- Make a drawing
- Read for 15 minutes
- Wash the back door windows
- Make a drum set out of household objects, write a song, and perform it for a stuffed animal audience
- Make a sculpture from straws and marshmallows
- Clean the family room
- Vacuum wood floors
- Make sure your closet is neat and tidy
- Clean the playroom
- Take the dog for a walk around the house on the leash
- Write a worship song
- Construct a paper flower
- Take a shower or bath
Happy Christmas Break!