I recently learned that July is anti-boredom month. I also recently learned that it was July—just kidding. Sort of. I usually know what month we’re in, but I’m always surprised by the date, so sometimes I don’t realize the calendar has flipped. I also try to keep things in order by days of the week and not the date. Certain days are for soccer, baseball, hockey, field trips at summer day camp, or playdates. And on those days my ex and I have to juggle our own social, work, and travel plans. Those commitments alone are the bare minimum reasons why my life is so busy and why no month, week, or day is ever boring around here. I’m not complaining; I love my busy life with three active kids and co-parents who have a variety of interests, but an anti-boredom month is laughable — I wish I needed a month to find things to keep me busy.
Alan Caruba started National Anti-Boredom Month in the 1980s as a way combat the moping around that happens in the summer after 4th of July festivities and before back-to-school planning happens. You can call that time boring, Alan, but I call that a welcome break. We are sports-free right now, our evenings are mostly clear, and we’re gearing up for a week of vacation. I am not worried about the negative side-effects of boredom you warn about, Sir. I would give anything to feel the pangs of predictability and mental laziness from a lack of things to do, see, or experience. My mind is tired, but not from a lack of thought or stimulus; my exhaustion comes from the chaos that is the ride or die companion to my family’s existence. Just like some people don’t understand my fear of squirrels—they’re assholes, okay?!—I will never understand thaasophobia, which is a person’s fear of boredom.
The National Today website has a list of lovely activities to try if you’re feeling the uncomfortable impacts of boredom. But I’m going to give you some alternative ideas in case you want to push those feelings from happy relief all the way to longing for the days of boring yore.
They don’t need to be yours. I know many parents who would be happy to lend you their children for a day or 20. It’s possible to feel soul-crushingly lonely while with kids, but I have never been bored while with my or other people’s children. My kids are still pretty high-maintenance, are wicked loud, always talkative, and sassy. They’re also always hungry so feel free to practice your culinary skills on their taste buds. Be prepared to be criticized. Kids may complain of boredom but it’s good for their independence and creativity and the shit they come up with is entertaining. So even if you hear the word bored, don’t be fooled; just sit back and wait. If that doesn’t work, give one child something but not the others and watch the Hunger Games unfold. I start my days of anti-boredom success by accidently giving one child more cereal or offering the last pancake to the child who has finished all of theirs while the other two still have plenty on their plates.
Attempt Any Task
Once you have kids somewhere in the house with you, pick something, anything, to do. In my house, cooking means navigating around children riding on hoverboards while playing hockey or keeping a balloon afloat. Folding laundry means losing laundry baskets to children who are suddenly pirates, babies, pets or some made up version of themselves who need said baskets for their game. Leave the laundry on the table and then deal with the mystery of what will happen to it by the time dinner rolls around. Mow the lawn. Make a phone call. Take a shower. Sit down. I promise you someone will ask if they can give their stuffed animals a spa day while the mower is going and after you JUST asked if anyone needed anything. Someone will need to talk to you. Someone will scream your name while crying and ask why do you didn’t come to their rescue sooner while you drip water all over the house. Or, but likely and, someone will jump on you or need to have their ass wiped.
Do The Basic “Fun” Stuff
Anything fun that involves my kids is like going anywhere and adding the upgrade and realizing you now own a timeshare you can’t afford. We can’t just go to the 4th of July fireworks, enjoy the memory of cotton candy and sparklers; we have to come home and let the dog out, who then finds a vole nest in the yard and eats the baby voles, which are a mouse/mole hybrid thing I think, while children scream and then coo while I save two baby voles and relocate the nest only to have what seems to be a stray cat eat them later that night. Or purchase an above ground pool to stay cool during the pandemic summers to end up paying three times the cost of said pool in repairs, pool noodles, and Gorilla Tape to keep the thing afloat.
But if you really want to beat the boredom, go out for ice cream for dinner at your favorite outdoor pizza/ice cream stand. The kids will still be hungry after their cones and you’ll end up getting pizza for dessert which will knock a loose tooth out of one child’s mouth. She’ll put that tooth on a paper plate which someone will grab because they’re after discarded cheese. The tooth will fly onto the ground at the exact moment another child needs to pee but can’t because the bathroom is out of order. You’ll decide you’ve had enough “fun” for one night, tell the kids to carry their pizza to the car, forget to tell them to Statue of Liberty it, watch one child lose their pizza to the vole killer because of course you had to bring the dog.
A juggler is coming to the park this Friday, but I don’t know if I can handle it. What I could use is an anti-fuckery month. Can we work on that, Alan? Thanks.