kidsThis week’s installment of Self-Care Sunday continues the theme of vacation. Not only do vacations play a huge part in our well-being, helping our kids learn to put their learning to use over vacation helps us enter into the spirit of life-long learning. A win-win situation for everyone!

Bored Kids=Vacation Disaster

“I’m soooo bored!”

Nothing strikes fear and frustration into the heart of a parent faster than those three words. Except maybe, “There’s nothing to do!” Part of us wants to snap back, “Just go outside and play!” The other part longs to plop our child down in front of the television or game console and just give in.

These summertime hacks will act as an antidote to boredom for your kids. As an added bonus, they’ll have opportunities to put into practice things they learned during the school year in fun and creative ways.

At-Home Activities

No parent wants to hear, "I'm soooo bored!" from their kids during vacation. Check out these boredom busters. #lifelonglearning #vacation #parenting1. Menu planning. Enlist your kids in helping you plan weekly menus. You’ll find the perfect opportunity to talk to them about healthy eating choices, balanced meals, and food preferences. Let each child choose one completely new-to-them food menu each week. Research recipes and make ingredient lists. If appropriate, have them help prepare that meal.

2. Grocery shopping. Once you create a menu with your kids, take them along on the hunt for groceries. Make it an adventure. Assign them items to find and explain how the grocery store is laid out. Some grocery store apps even allow you to locate the item by aisle number before you get to the store. Have your kids plan out the route for inside the store, and then stick to it.

3. Cooking, baking, and meal prep. Every child who has finished the first grade should know the basics of preparing a simple meal (and depending on their age, they may or may not need supervision after the first time). When kids help provide for their family, they gain a deep sense of their worth to the family unit. Kids who feel needed at home (in a healthy way—not as a substitute BFF) develop family loyalty and identity that helps them combat peer pressure.

4. Quehacers. That’s the Spanish word for chores, and I like it a lot better than the English word. ‘Chores’ sound like a burden. The word ‘quehaceres’ means ‘to-do things.’ Things that we just do because they have to get done in order to make our lives more comfortable. Make sure kids understand how the things they have to do contribute to the family’s well-being. If they see you doing the to-do things as an act of service, they’ll adopt the same attitude.

Other At-Home Ideas

5. Have kids help you make up a daily or weekly routine. If kids help plan out their days and weeks, you can always remind them that they came up with the plan. Kids secretly (or not so secretly) crave order and routine.

6. Summer reading programs. Most libraries offer summer book clubs and reading programs. Come up with a plan for helping your kids earn prizes. Schedule regular library visits and help kids keep track of their progress.

7. Other low-cost, local activities. Have a cookout at your local park once a week with the entire family. Local YMCAs or cities often have low-cost swimming lessons and pool times. Check out the local animal shelter for volunteer opportunities. See if there’s a soup kitchen where your family can volunteer.

Back-up Plan for Bored Kids

8. Activities jar. At the start of the summer, help your kids brainstorm lists of things they would like to do. Make three lists, things they can do on their own, things that require minimal planning and adult involvement, and things that require more planning (and more adult involvement). Write each activity on color coded pieces of paper—you could use the stoplight colors to help them learn all about stop lights, for example.

Easy activities on green paper might include, read a book, play a game, have a doll tea party, color, draw, build a furniture and blanket fort, etc. Activities that require more planning (written on yellow paper) could include, have a friend over, make cookies, plant seeds/flowers, go to the park, etc. Write activities that require more planning on red paper. For example, plan a party, go for a hike, camp in the back yard, visit the library.

Fold the slips of paper in half and put them in a jar. If your child claims they don’t know what to do, tell them to pick a green slip out of the jar. If you have time to assist them with an activity, they can choose a yellow slip. Save the red slips for when you have plenty of time to assist them.

This activity will not only teach them to categorize, it will help them learn the benefits of delayed gratification.

Vacation Planning and Learning Opportunities

Just in time for summer vacation! Huge list of boredom buster activities for kids. #lifelonglearning #vacation #parentingIf you enlist your kids in planning your family vacation, you’ll have a plethora of opportunities for them to use their creative and practical thinking skills.

Geography—Use the destination as a geography lesson. Talk about how you use maps and discuss the physical features of your destination.

Math—have your kids help you figure out the cost of gas, plane tickets, hotels, food, etc.

Personal finance—help them understand the importance of a budget.

History—let them choose historical places to visit along your route or at your destination.

Physical education—teach them new skills like boogie boarding, body surfing, or rock climbing.

Language arts—make books they’ve read guide your destination. One of my favorite vacations as a kid was to St. Simons Island—the location of a book my mom, older sister and I all read. On long car trips, you can listen to audio books and discuss them.

Art—teach them how to take better photos.

Music—let them help create playlists for car trips. Talk about the music genre, what you like about it and why.

Interpersonal relationships—teach them how to resolve conflicts with their siblings kindly.

Science—visit National Parks and learn about the geology and geography. The National Parks also have a great free junior ranger program that kids enjoy participating in.

The key to a productive summer that combines play and learning lies in the ways you enlist your kids in the planning. Give them creative opportunities to think, reason, and put their learning to use. By doing so, you’ll do your kids a huge favor.

Q4U: What great ideas have you discovered for busting boredom during summer vacation?

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