The Bored Jar
Summer is here. While my boys are still reveling in lazy mornings and afternoons spent outdoors, I know the B-word is coming. That five-letter word that heightens every mother’s frustration during those summer weeks: BORED.
With four boys to manage, two of which still take naps, I knew that my two older boys would need to be a bit more self sufficient this summer. I’m no entertainer, no cruise ship director who can plan out their every moment.
Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Plus, I’m a big believer that down time—that unscheduled space where kids are forced to use their imaginations, be responsible, and make their own decisions—is invaluable for their development. They need to learn to create and to explore. They need to get dirty and run and read and make mistakes. Summer becomes the perfect training ground for boys to make steps toward becoming creative, industrious, decisive men who don’t need their mamas no mo’. (That’s the goal, right?)
So to help my boys in this development (and to keep me from hearing the B-word one too many times), we created something special this past week: THE BORED JAR.
How It Works
The Bored Jar is what we use after chores are done and the boys have decided that playtime is no longer enough to entertain them.
The premise: You say the word “bored,” you get the jar.
The Bored Jar is filled with activity options that require little-to-no mom supervision, and whatever activity you pull out, you have to do.
I decided to include my boys in the creation of our Bored Jar, which definitely helped increase their buy-in. As we created the jar, we talked about the rules and how the jar would be used this summer. And here are the Bored Jar guidelines at which we arrived:
- The jar cannot include any screen time.
- Kids must be able to do the activity with minimal supervision from mom.
- Chores must be completed first. Because if chores aren’t done, then you OBVIOUSLY still have things to do…
Once we established the guidelines of the jar, the boys and I determined activities to include. The longer we did it, the more creative the options became. A few of my favorites include:
- Create a funny dance.
- Write and illustrate your own story.
- Go on a treasure hunt.
- Read a book.
We’ve used our jar for about a week now, and so far, the boys have had a great time with it. In fact, my oldest likes to say “I’m bored!” just to get to pull an activity out of the jar. We’ll see whether that holds true in a few weeks. But in the meantime, it’s been a Godsend.
Make Your Own
Want to make a Bored Jar? Well, the good news is that it’s fast and easy. No need to go crazy spending money. You can probably find most of these items (or easy substitutes) around your house. However, here’s how we created our jar.
- Gather your supplies. If you don’t have them around you home, you can find most of them online at Amazon or at your local Walmart, Target, or Hobby Lobby. (Note: An easy substitute for a traditional Mason jar is a large pickle jar or salsa jar. Just make sure to clean it well and air it out a bit before use.)
- Decorate your jar. It’s up to you to decide just how artsy you want to get with this step—or how involved you want your kids to be. Since the jar will be sitting on my kitchen counter all summer, I used a few random craft supplies I had around to make it cuter. But my boys could not have cared less.
- Talk to your kids about the guidelines. Before filling the jar, make sure your kids understand its purpose. Perhaps create the guidelines together. (Feel free to use or adjust my family’s guidelines above as a place to start. Yours will likely look a bit different, and that’s just fine!)
- Create activity sticks. Do this step with your kids to create excitement and generate buy-in. Write activities on the craft sticks (one per stick) and place them in the jar. Easy examples include: read a book, play a game, make a castle using LEGOs, write a story, collect five interesting things from outside, or draw a picture of your favorite place.
- Use it! Put it in to practice as soon as you’re done, and feel free to add activities as you think of other fun options.