How To End Kids' Boredom: Put Them To Work

by Toni Hammer
kids' boredom

What parent hasn’t heard the whiny cries of a preschooler proclaiming, “I’m booooooored”? It’s a phrase my 4-year-old has picked up and is now using on an almost daily basis — as if the woman scrubbing urine off the bathroom floor is having a grand ole time, partying down with her Clorox wipes.

I’ve tried being patient and steering her to toys. I’ve been creative and given her half of my wardrobe to play dress-up with. I’ve even gotten desperate and handed her the iPad. Nothing, it seems, was able to cure her ailment of having “nothing to do.” Fed up to here with the whining, I compiled a list of ways to kill a kid’s boredom and, lucky for you, I’m here to share.

1. Grab a broom, kid.

Start sweeping. Start mopping. Start wiping down the baseboards. Here’s a rag; it’s time you learn to dust. Get dirty. Make a mess. Get wet. Just get out of my hair.

2. It’s laundry time.

Personally, I’m not a clothes sorter. Once we had kids and I was washing cloth diapers and 5 million onesies, I just stopped caring about lights and darks and reds. Everything is stained anyway. But, hey, if my kids think I’m oodles of fun, then I’ll give them some fun. Sort them by color! Great job! Now sort by type! Now make up your own system! It’s all going to end up getting washed 18 times anyway, since I can never remember to switch it over to the dryer.

3. Match socks.

Make your kids do the shit you hate to do. We’ve somehow acquired a gazillion character-themed socks and I swear none of them have a match. My kids are unaware of how tedious and mind-numbing trying to find a matching Elsa sock is, though. Make it a game. Offer a prize for whoever matches the most socks. Then lock them in their room and sit down.

4. Organize the Tupperware drawer.

Eventually, everyone has to learn what a lesson in futility this task is and you might as well train them while they’re young, right? Bonus points if they just take everything out and hide in the cupboard. Walk away. What you don’t see can’t hurt you.

5. Clean under and between the couch cushions.

Most of the mess under there belongs to the ankle biters anyway, so make them clean it up. Sure, they might eat some stale three-week-old Goldfish crackers, but as long as they don’t take a swig from the long lost sippy cup, you should be fine.

6. Make the box of markers make sense again.

The red cap goes on the red marker, dammit. And give them some paper so they can figure out if the marker still works or not. Nothing prompts a banshee scream from a toddler quite as fast as when they want to color the sun yellow and the yellow marker is dried up like mom’s sex life.

7. Wipe down the walls.

Anyone with kids knows about the muck and mire that can be smeared on the walls of your home. And it’s always sticky. Kids just wake up sticky and wanting to put their fingerprints on everything. Well, no more! You touch it, you clean it.

8. Rub Mommy’s feet.

You deserve a break for teaching your kids to never again utter the phrase “I’m bored.” Payback is a bitch.

9. Sort through your toys.

Put all the blocks together. Put all the stuffed animals somewhere. Put all the Legos together in a box or, better yet, put everything in the trash. Embrace your inner OCD.

10. Play the quiet game.

This never, ever, ever lasts long enough but I’ve heard stories of yore about kids who accidentally fell asleep while trying to beat their brothers and sisters at this game. Hey, a mom can dream, right?

If a kid can walk and talk and hold a broom, they can be put to work. I’m not breaking child labor laws. I’m not even punishing them. I’m just doing a bit of psychological warfare.

Eventually, they’ll either learn to entertain themselves or they’ll take on all the tasks I hate doing. Either way, it’s a win for me and hopefully for you too. You’re welcome.