With summer coming to a close and you reflect back on your time with your kids, how many of us heard the dreaded B-word?
“Mom, I’m B-O-R-E-D!”
If your house is like mine, we have a revolving door of neighbor kids and friends over no matter the time of year. This summer we had the opportunity to also spend time with other families and kids on adventures in and out of town. Interesting if you pay attention to the words you hear when the kids are interacting with each other or when they come to you to ask, “Maci’s mom, we are bored. Will you play with us?”
Do words in your household reflect your goals and values?
As our children get older, one thing I have been impressed with is how observant and reflective my kids are about what they are seeing in the world around them. My son, in junior high this year, has noticed this difference in family values. (Maybe it is all the taxiing him to soccer practice or nighttime ‘Moments of Receptivity’ conversations sinking in – fingers crossed.)
Background story here. My kids know that in our house, we don’t say the B-word. We don’t say BORED. My mom always said, “If you are bored, then you are ___________________.” How many of you know how to fill in that blank? I can’t imagine my mom being the only parent to use that little nugget of truth! If you are bored, then you are a boring person. This was not meant to be an insult, it was meant to imply that your state of mind is up to you. You choose. In our house, we find the fun, we create the fun. Why would there ever need to be a time that you are bored, when you can be imaginative and find something to do, find something that you consider to be fun??
Then the extension of that mom-ism is, “If you are bored, then _____________________!”
You got it! “…then I will find something for you to do! The toilets need to be scrubbed, the laundry needs to be folded, and how about some weeding in the backyard?!!” My mom’s personal favorite was having us clean the grooves in our harvest gold, blue, and white linoleum kitchen floor with a toothbrush, or wait for it…with a toothpick! If you don’t believe me, ask our neighbor childhood friends, Dawn and Erin, they helped with this task on more than one occasion.
My husband’s favorite extension of that is “Go Outside!” Yes, we know that it is over 100 degrees in the Phoenix area in the summer time (and also really until October)! That does not mean that we need to hibernate in the AC playing video games. It certainly does not stop us from ‘finding the fun’ outside. Using our imagination and not too much dough, we have invented some fun in the sun (when I say “we”, mostly I mean my husband who is a child in a grown man’s body). To “Create the Warm Weather Fun” and “Get Outside”… Try:
- Sprinklers on the trampoline
- Or a neighborhood Fav: Inflatable swimming pool on the trampoline
- This one is loved even by those friends who have backyard pools (which we currently do not)
- This year a Slip-and-Slide made a comeback (however brief)
- Take slow-mo video of any of the above for even more creative fun
- Listen to Music – IMO Music makes everything more fun or more relaxing or whatever mood you are going for
- For hydration: feed the posse watermelon, cucumber, grapes, frozen treats like Otter Pops and popsicles, or if you are more Pinterest-y than me, make some homemade chocolate frozen bananas or yogurt dipped frozen grapes
- Swimming is a given if you have a backyard pool
- If you do not have an in-ground pool:
- Visit your local Aquatic Centers for a small fee
- Get yourself an awesome inflatable pool which they make pretty large these days for $30 or less
- Become close friends with your neighbors who have pools
- Get yourself invited to lots of pool parties
- Not too hot out:
- Go on a bike ride, a hike, play basketball at the park, play soccer, draw with sidewalk chalk, dine al fresco, explore your own state. #GetOutside
- An important tip: enjoy these activities with your kids, play with them, do not just watch them play. It does not have to be every time – but it definitely should be some of the time. PLAY with them. If Fun is something that your family values, then you must role model the attitude.
I digress. Back to the story of awareness of family values. Several times this summer – and I mean at least 4 different times, 4 different children uttered the “B-word”.
One of which led to a “Laurie Lesson” discussion, because as Rosalind Wiseman says, “it is important who we have for our villagers (to help raise our kids)” and “every kid is my kid (if a kid comes to my house and helps himself to snacks, he is my kid).” If you are ‘my kid’ and something comes up not in alignment with our values, I will say something.
So, picture two girls playing outside, in the wilderness, in the forest, in the cooler summer weather… and one (not my daughter) says, “this is so booooring.”
Surprised with her assessment of what is a completely memorable day outdoors with several families getting to hang out, I say, “Oh? Why is it boring?”
“There is nothing to do.”
“I am bored.”
I of course respond like my mom would, (isn’t that fun when words come out of our mouths that sound just like our parents?), “You know what it means when you are bored, right?” You know how that ends.
“Let’s find the fun! What could be fun out here?” This part of the conversation was a little rough with most ideas being shot down by Ms. Bored with excuses for why they would not work. Mind you, I do not mean to infer that my children have never said they were bored…but when they did, we followed up with a similar version of the above dialogue.
This interaction in the woods led to a short family chat with my hubby, 12-year-old son, and 7-year-old daughter. My son notes, “I hear that a lot from friends (bored). I like that our family doesn’t say ‘Bored’. I like that about our family.” Be still my heart. Me too, buddy, me too.
The rest of that 5-minute family discussion (all important ones should be brief), as we are walking down a trail in the tall Ponderosa Pines, was about what we like about our family and our values. I think my words sounded something like this:
“It’s true. Our family may say the S-word (Shit, like the actual S-word) and the occasional F-bomb (as a way to really emphasize something), but we do NOT say the B-word (Bored), the H-word (Hate) and we do NOT say the P-word (Perfect). Those are values that we uphold as important to us. We DO say: the other S-word (I’m Sorry), the other F-word (Fun), the other H-word (Honesty), the L-word and A-word (Love & Acceptance), and the E-word (Empathy). Those are our family Values. Words are very powerful. We do our best to use words in our household that reflect those values.”
What are your family values? What are the words that you hear in your household or from others that resonate with you? And what are the words and values that you hear that make you think – huh, I am not down with that.
It is okay if they are different from the next. I hope that they are. We are all unique individuals bringing our upbringing and life experiences along with us, maybe that means combining with another human to make a family, and that unique human has their life experiences and their attitudes that make them who they are. Love yourself for who you are.
If you have not spent time or thoughts on your family’s goals and values, I encourage you to give it a go. If your kids are old enough, have them help you to come up with them.
A couple easy ideas:
- Dinner time discussion – go around the table and let everyone share
- If opening up discussion is difficult, have small pieces of paper folded and put in a hat or bowl. On each paper is a word or phrase you can come up with ahead of time. After someone pulls a paper, they read it and agree or disagree, “this value is important to our family or it is not” (and why or why not) or “this is a word that we DO say or DO NOT say in our household” (and why or why not).
- Have an ‘Art Night’ (something we like to do, like ‘Movie Night’ or ‘Game Night’ but with Art – you get the idea) …take a big sheet of flip chart paper and everyone be armed with crayons or markers or your art medium of choice. At the same time, everyone can write words or draw pictures that depicts your Family ‘Words’ and ‘Values’. This is something you can then discuss and then hang up in your home.
Another B-word moment to cap off the summer: picture floating on a raft behind a houseboat in a beautiful Lake, sun shining, music on, adults playing in the water, children giggling as they are jumping from a floating trampoline into the warm lake water – when what to my surprise, a little girl swims up by my side and says, “Maci’s mom, we are Bored. Will you play with us?”
I look at my daughter’s face which is wide eyed, shocked almost, and shaking back and forth. You would think that she heard the actual B-word come out of that 8-year-old girl’s mouth. “I’m not mama, I’m not bored!” she says confidently. Boom. I have done my job.
“And yes, mommy will come play with you. I would love that! In 10 minutes though, because right now I am having fun listening to this song and gazing up at the blue sky.”
Have FUN my Friends!!
In the trenches with you,
❤ – Laurie
Note: I am seeing lots of juicy topics by digging into the Values, since this one covers mostly the B-word. Stay tuned:
- Why is “Perfect” a bad word in our house? Hint: I am a recovering perfectionist.
- “Hate” is the opposite of “Love & Acceptance” – it is about tolerance & unconditional love for yourself & others.
- Two of the hardest words to say, “I’m Sorry”: The importance of Apologizing.
- How do we model “Empathy” and do our best to Raise Empathetic little humans?