Friday, March 16, 2012

Love Letters to and from the Bored Jar

I made the Princess a Bored Jar. Why? Because the kid is always. bored.

Seriously? There is nothing to do in this house.
(Photo by Grandma.)
"Mom. Play with me. Mom? Play with me. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom? MOM. MOM! Play with me!"

Look, I'm not saying I hate to play with my kid or anything (OK, maybe I am saying that Barbies? Bore the daylight out of me. Yeah. I said it). But you know, I've got another kid to deal with, and dinner to cook, and work to catch up on, and laundry to fold, and a husband to interact with, and it's my turn on all 13 of my Draw Something games so yeah, I can't play with you all the time.

It's healthy for kids to learn independent, creative play, right? I don't remember my mom playing with me all that much and look how great I turned out.

The Princess was an only child for 4 1/2 years, and I was a work-at-home mom for several of those years, so you would think she'd be an independent play pro by now. And she is, once you get her going, but her basic temperament doesn't really make it easy on her. She's a social butterfly and if I really loved her I'd have had at least 6 kids back to back so she wouldn't be so lonely all the time.

So. I found this "Mom, I'm Bored! Jar" on Pinterest. I won't bore you with a whole tutorial or anything, because it's kind of my policy around here to not be any more useful than I have to be. Nor will I claim credit, because it's kind of my other policy not to have any original ideas around here. So you should really go visit the Somewhat Simple blog and check it out, because that's where I got it.

Mine is not this cute. Mine is also made from an old pickle jar, so BONUS, the slips all smell like pickles.
It's a jar full of slips of paper with activities on them. And also...chores!! Every time the words "I'm bored" emerge from your kid's lips, she has to pull a slip from the Bored Jar. I didn't use Somewhat Simple's list of activities, I just made my own, and I made A LOT of them. I used some of her ideas, added some of my own, went through my "kid activities" Pinterest board and added some of those. I tried to keep them for the most part independent activities that she could do on her own.

Here's my Word file; feel free to download it, edit it, do whatever you want with it. Just don't sell it without giving me a cut. Some of these are specific to our house, so if your bored kid doesn't have a Leapster or a baby brother, you'll need to change those slips. Or buy a Leapster and bear a male child. Your call, really.

Our jar is mostly fun activities, with a smattering of chores. And guess what! If you say you're bored, you MUST pull a slip from the jar, and once you pull a slip from the jar, you MUST do what it says! (The exception would be if she pulls something like "paint your nails with mom or dad" and mom and dad are busy doing other things, or pulls an outdoor activity on a rainy day; mom and dad have veto power in these cases and we just pull another slip.)

But there's no whining allowed. So think twice before you come to me saying you're bored.

On day one, she was so excited about the jar that she actually brought it to me 3 times. Two of those times she pulled "do one chore of mom's choice." I did not rig the jar, I promise. But I did make her clean up the doggie doo in the back yard and empty the dishwasher. And she did both. Without whining.

She's still pretty excited about the jar and willing to risk pulling a chore, because she has gotten lots of fun things, like "draw the cutest animal you can think of," "make your brother laugh," "make a necklace out of pasta," and "write a letter." All things I might have suggested in the past, but it carries so much more weight when it's pulled from a jar, right?

When she pulled "write a letter" last night I figured it would be good practice writing. She's turning 6 next week and she's in kindergarten, so she's learning a lot but I don't really think of her as an independent writer yet, you know? Normally if we write anything I'm there helping her spell stuff. So I told her to just go in the playroom and do her very best to sound out the words she wanted, without asking for help.

I wasn't giving her enough credit.

Because this is what I got:

I. Officially. Love. The Bored Jar.


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