Are You NOT Entertained??!! (Episode 212)
Could you handle a 6 hour car ride with zero “entertainment” for your children? Do you dread hearing “I’m bored” in your home, and you feel like you kids are in constant need of stimulation?
I'm reminded of a scene in the movie "The Gladiator" where Russell Crowe comes out to the gladiator arena and wipes out the soldiers there, amidst a crowd of boos. The frustration and absurdity of the situation was so apparent to him, he quickly went to the end result, yet the crowd was not entertained. "Are you not entertained??!!" he cried, "isn't this what you want?"
And therein lies the question. When kids are bored, what do they really want? What does it look like for them to be entertained?
In this episode, Nathan and I break down the "BORED" acronym, share specifically about insanely long and "boring" road trips, and how the concept of fasting has opened up so much for us.
"I'm bored." We've all heard it as parents, and, let's be honest - we've most likely felt it ourselves as well. Bored. Lack of direction. What is boredom, really, and what do we really want for our kids? What do you want your children to learn? How can you best equip your kids to survive - and thrive - beyond your care?
Bigger than the WHAT to do/be/think/act is the HOW. How do you learn, grow, do...be? How do you navigate the ups and downs of life, build emotional resilience, and equip your children to find the answers they are looking for in life?
With our functional education model of living, we really want to teach our children the how to living life to the fullest - and ask them questions for them to be able to come to their own understanding of why they want it. We've found time and time again, that when people are internally motivated, the are way more likely to learn and grow from something.
If my goal is to equip my children with tools on how to navigate life on their own, then the pressure of entertaining them in the process goes down tremendously. We tend to get stuck in one of three things -
- Being the constant source of entertainment - kids aren't equipped to do anything on their own.
- Maxing kids out on extracurricular entertainment - keeping them so full of activities they are exhausted and there is no time for boredom.
- Leaving them to their own devices, and maybe they have a boredom crutch of passive entertainment, like TV.
Instead of giving them all the answers, eliminating the opportunity for boredom, or getting stuck down a path of complacency and potentially even addiction, we want to simply give them a framework.
Yes, don't just throw your kids "to the wolves" to figure it all out on their own, and don't tell them what to do. There actually is a common ground. We use it all the time in school when we create those outlines and talking points that just highlight the essentials.
A framework isn't the whole picture; it's simply a foundational component to start from.
The BORED Acronym
I found this on Pinterest ages ago and we use it all the time. I love the basic approach and the openness for where you can go from there. Below is the big graphic of it, and here is your breakdown:
- Be creative - this can be so broad. How does your child like to create? Is it in the kitchen? Is it with crayons and paper? Maybe it's building a fort or making music on GarageBand. What, if left to their own devices, would your child create? What simple questions can you ask to get their imagination going?
Parent tip: Make sure you bookend their ideas with follow-through. What you create/get out/etc, you must follow through and clean up. Be clear on your expectations for cleaning up so their creativity can be celebrated.
- Outdoor play - again, is this riding a bike, playing tag, painting with chalk and water...adding a little creativity in can open the door for all kinds of variety, and a shift in scenery can do wonders for someone who is bored.
- Read a book - reading is such an easy way to get lost in another world - we make reading material readily available everywhere - put books and magazines by the toilet in the bathroom, in lounging areas, maybe even the car.
- Exercise - this isn't just about your body - you can exercise your mind as well! Maybe you're going to exercise your body by going for a run, or you're expanding your mind through watching an insightful documentary. Maybe you're doing brainteasers, or maybe you're doing yoga.
- Do something for someone else - this is such a beautiful ending to this list, because, so often, if we are lost in our own helplessness, the best thing we can do is reach out and help someone else. I often advise my coaching clients who are stuck in their own heads to look beyond themselves to someone else they can help and serve. It's amazing what helping another can do for your own well-being. It can give you a feeling of purpose that can be a driver to get you out of any funk you may be in. When a child comes to me saying they are bored, I can always find something they can do to help me clean up and organize in the house!
Experiment with Fasting
Yes, we are absolutely okay with our children feeling bored. And, we want to open the door to experimenting with what is really important to them. We do this often by way of "fasting". Now, the technical definition of fasting is specifically abstaining from food and/or drink for religious purposes. However, we take it a step beyond this, and see fasting as a break the norm to bring more awareness to a situation.
Yes, we've fasted when it comes to food. We've gone from a culture that swore by three meals a day, and breakfast being something you never dare miss to intermittent fasting being all the rage, and people realizing they can go days without eating and still survive.
Think about what food you put into your mouth. How much of it is for survival, and how much is due to boredom, socializing, and cultural expectations? So we've experimented with being hungry as a family, not eating snacks out of boredom (seriously, are these typically healthy choices anyway?), and learning our limits in our own bodies as to how hunger feels and how we address it. And in our own experimenting it also opens the door for empathy as we talk with our children about how many people there are out there who don't have the luxury of food and water when they are hungry and thirsty.
Beyond fasting with food, we looked at what other breaks we could do.
What else might you break from? Maybe a week off screens would re-set your family. Maybe it's a break from constant background noise of music and tv in your home. Maybe you try a stretch of no criticism allowed in your home. A full day of silence, even? It's crazy what can happen.
Yes, we've experienced all of these. A full day of silence had a profound effect on all of us. Eliminating all sound in our minivan opened the door to all kinds of imaginative conversations between the girls and us. Only focusing on gratitude as our default was an experiment we stuck with long-term.
We're essentially teaching our children how to live with a "hungry ghost" - how to manage our wants against the reality of our lives so that we can get the best experience.
Your Weekly Challenge:
Your children are looking to you first and foremost for how to navigate boredom. How are you modeling a positive and innovative opportunity for them? Maybe this bored acronym is a framework for you to use in your life just as much as your children.
Go through the BORED acronym with your family. Make your own sign to put up in your home - mine was on our fridge in our house, so anytime that "bored eating" urge happened, they had a reminder on other ideas as well.
Pay attention to anything that has become a crutch or a bone of contention in your home. What can you experiment with letting go of this week? Not forever; maybe just for a stretch. What are you willing to remove that may make way for something else? What can you create space for that you want more of in your home?
It's healthy to be bored. And it's enlightening to experiment with letting go of vices. It fuels the path for creativity, innovation, awareness, and focus. And it allows us to have grace for one another as we learn, grow, and adapt. Because we are beautiful humans in this constantly evolving world, and the more we can give grace for the growth as we learn what works best for each of us, the more we can celebrate how the uniqueness in each of us strengthens all of us. Namaste.
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- Finding Gratitude - Logsdon Family Virtual Campfire Chat (Episode 122)
- The Steps For Emotional Resilience (Episode 150)
- To Build Resilience, Let Them Bounce (Episode 36)
- How do I equip my kid to “adult”? (Episode 89)
- 10 Essential Lessons for Life – Foster Independence
- Personality Styles
Questions or comments?
Personality styles, marriage/intimacy, parenting, education, minimalism or travel - what is pressing on your mind?
Or, hop on over to the Unschooling Families FB group and ask your question there!