Parenting

Ep 20. Teach Your Kids How to Battle Boredom + Get Along

Mompreneur article about sibling rivalry + battling boredom
I'm Ashley!

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In today’s episode, I am so excited to share with you my three-step framework for how to battle the boredom with your children. And then I want to talk to you about really digesting, how to handle sibling rivalry and make the best of your time with your family.


Hey mama, welcome back to the show. I am so happy to have you here with me today. I know that this is a topic that a lot of people struggle with myself included. It’s so hard when our kids come to us and they just feel bored. And our instant reaction is to just give them an idea and send them on their way. But today, I really want to give you a system that you can use that will help you empower your children to make the decision themselves and to help them battle boredom on their own.

Now, before we get started, I think it’s so important to remind you that if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. And why I think this is so important is because so often I feel like we neglect to plan things like our schedule for our children, we neglect to plan self-care. There are so many things that we fail to note that we fail to plan. So that’s my first tip for you guys is to remember that without a plan you’re planning to fail.

Tip # 1: Brainstorm ideas with your Children.
Okay, so tip number one is going to be to brainstorm ideas with your children and get their input. I have a great reference template that I will include in the show notes, and you can grab it also by visiting the purposegathering.com/brainstorm. And it’s a great tool for you to print off and use with your children. So, I’m going to walk you through how to use this brainstorm template and exactly what to do.
So, this template is going to have four large rectangles at the top. So, I want you to sit down with your children, take about 20 minutes out of your day and decide where are four areas in your home or outside that your kids can play. So, for our family, we decided they could play outside, they could play in their playroom. We have a lot of family time in the kitchen and they do a lot of independent play there. So that’s one of our areas. And then they also have their own room.

So now what you do now that you have your four rooms is you break those rooms down into four subcategories. And these are different types of activities that they could do within each location. So, for instance, if we talk about outside time with my kids, there are four different things that they could do. They could do water related activities; they could do sports related activities. They could go to the park or they could do activities. So, you’re going to do that for each of your four locations and then you’re going to take each of those four subcategories and you’re going to break them down even further into five, very specific activities or games or things that they could do related to that location.

So again, for instance, we’re talking about the outside location and we’re talking about the water subcategory. So here are five ideas that my kids can do when they go outside to play with water, they could use the water table, they can run through the hose and the sprinkler. They could do water balloons. We could buy an inflatable pool that they could use, and then they could do a slip and slide. So those are five specific activities. So, you’re going to do that for each of your subcategories, and you’re going to create a huge master list of 80 specific ideas of things that your kids can do when they’re bored.

And what I recommend you do with this when you’re done is to either laminate it or put it in a sheet protector, which is what I do. And then you can post it around your house. That way, when your kids are bored, they have a reference sheet. And you’re going to have to train your kids, they’re going to still come to you and say, I’m bored Mom, what do I do? And you’re just going to reference that and say, hey guys, why don’t you check out the brainstorm template? I mean, don’t call it that, call it whatever you want to, go check out the brainstorm list. Where’s your idea list? Whatever you want to call it and make sure that they are taking ownership of what to do when they’re bored.

Another idea that I have for you guys is to create days that are themed with your kids. Right now, in Arizona, it’s still summer. And many of you listening, it’s still summer, but in case you’re listening to this after summer, I think it’s still so relevant. Something like on the weekends, you guys can have a theme day that your kids look forward to something like a movie day or a pool day or pajama day, where they stay in their pajamas all day. This just gives your kids something to look forward to and just a fun activity that they can do that day. I also recommend whenever you can plan to get out of the house at least every day, even if it’s just going on a walk around your neighborhood and going to a local park somewhere where you can get some fresh air and allow your kids to just be in nature. I think it’s so often it’s really easy for us to use technology, to entertain our kids because let’s be honest. They are really hard sometimes to entertain, and technology just seems so simple and easy for us to turn to. But if we give our children the tools right now for how to battle boredom, it will benefit them in the future.
Another way to break up the day and to help fight boredom is to meet up with friends as often as possible, especially as your kids get older. It’s so nice to be able to have their friends come over and play. It’s great for them and it’s also great for you. It gives you a break, it allows you to do some household things or just some things that you maybe want to do for yourself. So, when your kids are occupied and they have friends to play with, I don’t know about your kids, but my kids are always so much more well behaved when they have friends over. And so, I think that’s just a great tool to remember is plan play dates as often as you can, to help give you a break and give your kids something to do.

I also think it’s really important to foster creativity in your children. So, if you don’t already have a space in your home that’s all about creativity, I encourage you to create one in our home. It’s in our pantry since our kitchen, like I mentioned earlier is a great place that we all like together. My kids like to just sit at the counter and work on projects. So, we have a ton of different ideas and supplies in the cabinet that they have to ask to use. But typically, I allow them to use pretty much anything that’s in there, but we have play-doh, we have stickers, washy tape, glue, construction paper. I even let them paint as long as they follow the rules and put down a placemat or a tablecloth, and always obviously clean up after themselves. And we have scissors in there, we have just all kinds of different art supplies that they can work on. I also encourage my kids to write cards to people and send them. I think it’s a lost art, snail mail. So, I encourage my kids to create things and give them to people.

Another tip, this has nothing to do with your creativity center, but I just wanted to throw it out there because I do know that a lot of people spend a lot of time in the car with their kids. And it can be really frustrating when your kids are bored, and they don’t know what to do in the car. And so, they’re usually fighting or arguing or throwing things at each other. And so, I recommend having a car bin inside your vehicle for each child. Let them put whatever they want in it, but it stays in the car and they can only play with those items in the car. So, things that you can add in this box are things like little action figures, little people, cars, books, even like a little sticker book. Any kind of activity that is safe to do in the car and that’s not super messy, I recommend putting it in that box. This just gives your kids something to do on the drive.

Another thing that I utilize a lot is listening to podcasts in the car that are kids podcasts. Now I hear from a lot of listeners that you guys didn’t even realize they made kid podcasts. There are so many, a few of my favorites are Story Pirates. That’s actually my kid’s absolute favorite right now. There’s also one called Stories Podcast and then there is a podcast called Big Life Journal podcast. I think it’s something similar to that, but there are so many podcasts that you can find for kids. And it’s a really great way for them to imagine and listen, and it really keeps them from fighting. So, I recommend it. If you haven’t already get on the podcast, train for your kids.

Tip # 2: Making a Plan
Okay. Now my second tip is all about that plan. Remember how I talked to you about making a plan and how important it is and how we sometimes forget. Well, I want to teach you how to help plan and teach your children how to make a plan. So right now, we’re in the summer and I think it’s so important that our kids have structure. So, I time block out each part of the day, just as a guide. Obviously, we can change our mind at any time, but I really want to have a plan in place that I can fall back on just in case.
So, what I’ve done is created a schedule that starts with breakfast. So, between 7 and 8, we planned to have breakfast and just lounge. Then between 8-8:45, we do special time and together time. Now, if you’re new to the term special time, let me tell you what it is. Special time is a time where you spend with each of your children individually one on one for 10 minutes. Now I understand if you have a lot of children, this might be a little bit difficult, but I recommend it for multiple reasons. One of which it helps prevent misbehavior because the number one reason why kids act out is for attention. And if we give them positive attention upfront, they’re less likely to act out.

It also helps prevent sibling rivalry for that same exact reason. So, I want you to think about special time as a preventative measure. I think it is so important that you are giving individual attention to each of your kids. So, after they each have 10 minutes of special time, I want you to do together time. That means that you’re doing an activity with you and all of your children together. I typically like to do a together time activity for roughly 20 to 30 minutes, just depending on how much time we have, but obviously the longer, the better. So when you’re front-loading connection with your children and you’re giving them attention right out of the gate, first thing in the morning, they are going to give you a lot more focused work time and a lot more obedience and just being more cordial when you ask them to do things. So, this is a huge, huge benefit to both you and your child.

Okay next, we have a block of time between 9 and 11:30, and that’s for our themed day activity. So, something like going to a movie, heading to the pool, doing a play date at a friend’s house. So, we’re getting out of the house, we’re seeing friends, we’re doing some type of activity. And then remember in the car, I have the car activities and also the podcast to fall back on if I need to. Then we have time blocked out for lunch. Of course, I also forgot to mention this, but we do a 10 o’clock snack and a three o’clock snack and that should be in my schedule, it’s not right now. But planning ahead for snack time and mealtime is so important as well, because we all know that when our kids get hangry, it does not end well. So be sure that you are planning, lunches, snacks, mealtime, all that, and then plan for yourself too. Don’t forget about you, it’s so important that we are taking care of ourselves as well.

Okay after lunchtime, we always implement a quiet time or if you have children that are of age naptime. Now, when my children stopped napping, I absolutely was like, you know what? I still need this time, so I’m just going to turn it into quiet time. And you guys hear me talk about this all the time, and if you’re not implementing it already, you need to. Quiet time is going to be a huge asset to you, you need that time, whether it’s to work or just unwind or just to get housework done, you need that time. So set the expectation right away and let them know that it’s nonnegotiable. You’re going to have to train them, but they should be staying in their room for a set amount of time. So, for my children, it’s an hour and a half. They’re older, they’re six and almost nine, so an hour and a half is perfect.
Right now, my kids enjoy playing together so much that they spend their quiet time together, which is great, but it hasn’t always been that way. So, for the most part, they would play separately, and they would each just do individual activities in their rooms. Make sure that you are also switching out toys that are in their rooms, so they don’t get bored.

So, after quiet time, my kids do water play. So, between 2 and 2:30, they go outside, they get some fresh air and they’re able to play in the water. Now we don’t have a ton of water stuff outside, but we have a hose that they can play in. And we do want to get a water table or maybe an inflatable pool. So, we haven’t done that yet, but those are some things that they can work on. There’s also a ton of ideas on Pinterest, I recommend you and your children. if they’re a little bit older, they can do this by themselves. But even just with you, help you choose some ideas of what they can do outside with water or any activities they can add to that brainstorm list that we were talking about at the beginning,

Then we’re going to do snack time, I did include that on this. And then from 3:45 to 4:45, I’m going to be facilitating a free time or counter activities. So, this means that any of those craft or play-doh ideas that I mentioned, in our pantry they have access to all of that. I let them know this would be a great time if they want to write anyone cards, I get out the stamps. If your kids are younger, don’t put out the stamps, they will use them as stickers. So, make sure, I learned that the hard way, so just a tip. And then I let them just be creative and sometimes I have them pull out recyclables and I let them kind of create a city or build a rocket ship or whatever they want, I let them get creative. Now, does it get messy? Yes, but I totally would rather them be using their brains and being creative than watching TV all day. So, I am all about the mess, I just obviously have them clean up when they’re done.
Then from 4:45 to 5:15, it’s kind of free time again so they can kind of pick, do they want to go to the park? Do they want to go upstairs and play another game? I let them decide but then at 5:15, they need to take a shower or a bath and get into their pajamas while I make dinner. And this is a really great time to transition out of the fast pace of everything that we just did, and it helps their brain remember that it’s time to start settling down. So once. They’re in their pajamas and they’re bathed. We eat dinner around 5:45 when my husband gets home and then we try to eat fairly quickly so that we have time for a family activity.

So, I think it’s so important that you leave time in your schedule to connect as a family. So, my husband works very long hours, so when he gets home from work, I want to be sure that we have time to hang out together with him. So, our family activity usually consists of a game of some sort; some of our favorites so far are Ticket to Ride. We also love Catan, the junior version, and then UNO attack has been a new favorite, we also love Sleeping Queens. So those are just a few of the games that we play during our family activity and then our kids start their bedtime routine at 7:00 PM.
Now, some of you might be like, what 7:00 PM, how do you get your kids to bed that early? Well, it’s simple, we’ve been doing it for so long that they know they need to go to bed at seven o’clock. Doesn’t mean they actually fall asleep at seven o’clock, but seven o’clock is lights out and they need to go in their bedrooms. Now my daughter, who’s a little bit older, she’s going to be nine that’ll change. We’ll probably sometimes we even still do let her read in bed with the light on, and then we’ll just have her turn lights out at 7:45. But what this does is it encourages healthy, sleeping habits at a very young age. Our kids are so much more enjoyable when they get enough rest. And I think a lot of people don’t realize how much sleep their children need. So, we put our kids to bed early so that we have alone adult time. And I think it’s so important, so even if you have older kids or even younger kids that stay up later, you might want to implement an earlier bedtime to just get some of that time back with your spouse. So, I recommend having a firm bedtime every single night, whether or not they fall asleep. That’s okay, but at least you’re sticking to that.

Tip 3: Foster Sibling Bonding
Okay now let’s move on to the last and final tip, which is how to battle the boredom is going to be to foster sibling bonding and why this is so important is because isn’t it just a dream when your kids get along? Wouldn’t it just be great if they would play together all the time and you could just do your own thing? Well, it’s not always that pretty picture that we hope for and so I want to give you just some insight into why kids fight. So, the first reason why they fight is they are fighting for attention. So, like I mentioned before, if you give them that focused one-on-one attention, they’re not going to feel the need to fight as often because you’ve already given them your attention. When things aren’t fair or they feel mistreated, they will argue with their sibling. They also fight when they feel superior or inferior to another sibling. And last but not least, they maybe haven’t had enough time to practice conflict resolution with adult support. So those are some reasons of why kids fight.

So now I want to give you some ideas about how to prevent it. How can you be proactive here? So, number one, we mentioned this before, give them positive attention as early in the day as possible, create family rules for how to make things fair, eliminate competition completely and avoid comparing. Now, this is a big one, so I think so often parents feel like, Hey, you know, if I just encourage one kid over here to do better by showing the example of the older kid, I’m doing a good job right? Well, what that does is it automatically shows to the one who maybe isn’t told enough, or maybe isn’t competent enough, it shows them that they are inferior to their siblings. And so, they grow up feeling like they have to act out in order to show some type of superiority. So, what I recommend is never pitting your children against each other. If you’re going to do some type of competition, always make it kids against the adults or something like beat the clock that works really well with my son.

I could tell him to clean his room and he would be in there for 45 minutes doing nothing. But if I say, Hey, do you think that you can clean up your room in five minutes? And then I set a timer and I’m like, let’s beat the clock, then he’s much more likely to do it. But if I told both of my kids, Hey, let’s race, let’s see who’s done with their room first. There’s always going to be someone who wins and there’s always going to be someone who loses. And what does the kid that wins feel? They feel on top of the world, they’re like, I’m the best. They’re probably going around gloating while the one who lost feels angry, he’s he or she is probably going to throw something yellow, break down and cry. I mean, there’s just so many emotions that go into losing and it’s just something that I think should stay out of the home. There’s enough competition out in the world and especially with sports that we don’t need to make our home a competition.

Conflict Resolution Skills
Okay and the very last thing that I want to talk about here is to take the time to train and practice with your children conflict resolution skills. Now, this is super important to do when everybody is calm, because if you’re trying to teach your children resolution skills in a heated argument, it’s not going to work. They’re not going to hear you and they’re not going to want to listen. So, I recommend waiting till everything’s calm, nobody’s in a heated argument and just talk to them and say, you know what you guys? I’ve noticed that Scarlet you’ve been leaving out stuff on the counter lately that’s really special to you. And I’ve noticed that Jayden wants it and will take it. And then when he takes it, he runs around the house and you scream, and he gets a big hit of power and he thinks it’s hilarious. And so, he keeps doing it and then you’re screaming at him and you’re yelling and it’s becoming a bit of an issue, do you guys agree? And usually they’ll be like, yes, I agree. So, I’ll be like, okay, here’s what I’m thinking, what do you guys think? Or how do you think that we can avoid this? That goes back to creating family rules to make things fair.

So, for our family, I tell my daughter, whatever you leave on the counter is fair game for anyone to take a look at. Now, Jayden, when Scarlet leaves things on the counter that look really interesting. Yes. It’s fair game to take a look at, but it would be really nice of you to ask before you touch. So, I’m giving the family rules and it teaches my daughter that if she doesn’t want her stuff stolen, she needs to put it in her room. If it’s in her room, that’s off limits, that’s our family rule.

So, I hope this is making a little bit more sense, but you need to take time to teach your kids conflict resolution. Also having them model this with stuffed animals and say, Hey, this bear over here took the snake’s doll. What do you think we should do? And have your kids act out as if they were real people and it just makes it more fun and it takes the heated part out of it when you’re using stuffed animals.

Handling Conflict with Confidence
Okay, now let’s talk about how to handle conflict with confidence. So, remember the goal is not to eliminate the conflict, but it’s to facilitate a peaceful resolution. So, I want you to keep in mind that it’s not whose fault is it okay, there’s no to blame. It’s really just, okay let’s assess the situation what’s going on and what can I ask? What kind of open-ended questions can I ask? Something like what’s going on in here or how can I help? Timing is also everything, so I want you to know when to get involved; don’t step into soon, but also don’t wait too late.

So, if your kids are having a really rough time lately and you just hear them bickering and fighting all the time, you’re going to need to situate yourself right in the same room as them. And you’re going to have to keep your ear on them and you’re going to have to listen when things start to get a little escalated. Now, again, don’t jump in too soon and solve all their problems but when you hear that it’s getting heated that’s when you step in and say, what’s going on in here? How can I help? Is there something I can do to help you both? Something like that, so you’re asking an open-ended question. You’re not going into the room saying what’s going on in here? What happened? See the difference in tone? So, you’re going in with an attitude of wanting to help instead of an attitude with wanting to just end the disagreement.

Okay when you start to ask those open-ended questions remain calm because they’re going to mirror your reaction. Now, if you’ve waited too long and maybe you were downstairs or in another room, and really things got out of hand, maybe someone was pushing or hitting or screaming, that is really when you need to take the biggest breath, walk in, remain calm, make sure everyone’s safe. And then just ask one child to ask the child by name. So, for instance, Hey Jaden, can you tell me what just happened? And let the other siblings know they’re going to get a turn as well, but right now you’re asking for what Jaden’s perspective is. And then you’re going to, you’re going to hear it from everyone.

And then you’re just going to avoid taking sides, avoid punishing, and just start with the basics. Okay, I see that you’re upset because of this, is that right? So, repeat back what you just heard each of the siblings say, and let them try to come up with a compromise. Sometimes there’s missing information that they need to know. Maybe they didn’t understand the perspective of their sibling, but now that everybody has heard each other side now is a really good time to start asking children for compromises and suggestions about how they can move on from this disagreement.

How to Foster Sibling Bonding
Okay, and the last and final thing I want to touch on right here today is how to ultimately foster that sibling bonding. So there just a few things that I want to share with you, but I encourage sibling time with my children every single day. And this, you might have to start with 10 minutes and work your way up, but eventually the goal is to have your siblings, your children playing together for sibling time for 30 minutes per day. And this could be a game that they play; maybe they go play outside in the backyard together. Maybe they go upstairs in one of their rooms and play something, this is really just a great way for them to bond. So, let them know that they’re going to have some sibling time every single day.

Now you might want to facilitate some structured play together time, which basically means that you’re not just going to turn them loose and be like, hey guys, go play together. So, what I recommend doing is maybe changing up the scenery; so, taking a regular activity and changing up the location. So earlier this summer I had my kids do play-doh outside. They do play-doh all the time, but just taking it outside for some reason, made it so much more fun and they would spend two hours outside doing play-doh. I don’t know how, but they thought it was so fun just by changing up the location. We also have taken a card table outside; we’ve laid a picnic blanket down and just played cards or a board game outside. And again, just changing up the location makes it seem a little bit more fun.

Another thing that we love to do at our house is imagination time. I encourage my kids to get really creative. One time they set up a tent inside their playroom and they pretended they were camping. Another time I helped facilitate a veterinarian’s office and we even created real patient forms and made signs. So, it made it feel like they were in a real office. I brought in a fake keyboard and a phone and fake checks, and they were able to just really have fun with that, they did that for about a week straight. So, there’s just some really interesting ideas and creative ideas that you can facilitate during together time and then turn them loose during sibling time and let them just have at it.

I hope that all of these tips have been helpful for you to facilitate your children and teach them how to battle boredom, but then also for you to be able to handle sibling rivalry with confidence. If you enjoy today’s episode, I would love for you to take a screenshot of it and share it out on Instagram and tag me at The Purpose Gathering. As always mama I’m here rooting for you and you are not alone on this journey.

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My mission is to help fellow momtogs (mama photographers!) experience success in business and in motherhood. As an Arizona brand photographer for mompreneurs, I’m passionate about capturing authentic images that show off my clients’ unique personalities so they can connect with their ideal clients. And as an online business coach for momtogs, I LIVE for helping mamas experience incredible transformations that help them build a business they love, without sacrificing their precious time with their littles.

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