Boredom Busters spreadsheet

Not to harp on COVID-19, but all this staying at home is – what would you call it?

I would find a word but I gave up using those words in public, back a bit.

I love my kids to death and am actually soaking up the time with them; in between wanting to julienne them along with the carrots for dinner and make it look like an accident. They miss their friends enormously, and I miss mine, and I have become an inadvertent homeschooler overnight, which is both an ego boost and a death wish.

Half of me has no idea when I’ll get my work done, while the other half is busily outsourcing huge swatches of it to the younger generation and praying for more for them to do. But then there’s MY work, which they can’t do, and that part might as well rot along with the kale in the fridge, for all the attention I’m giving it.

Kale seemed like a good idea, when I was eating lunch alone some days.

I can’t describe how fun all of this is, and I mean it truly – hanging out and inventing a bunch of homegrown action and excitement – and how exhausting. Do you know what I mean?

What I’m looking for today are practical ideas for fun activities at home. The activities can be useful, educational, adventurous, or silly. I’m interested in the brilliant ideas you’d like to try, once you gather the supplies and the energy, and also the simple and rather modest ideas that take next to nothing and which you just did yesterday, to keep yourself and your children out of trouble.

Nothing is too small. I want to hear all of it.

Here’s how to share. Follow this link to the spreadsheet shown below. (You cannot edit it here on my blog page, only by following the link to the actual document.) Then add:

  • Your name (Purely optional.)
  • Description (Briefly explain your activity. Insert a link to online instructions if you want.)
  • Simplicity rating (One star means super simple, five means a little complicated but worth it. Just erase the stars till you get the rating you want. If you erase too many stars, scream for help.)

Is that easy enough?

Limit yourself to sharing five ideas per person, please, but otherwise – have at it! I’ll start with five of our Zook activities, though I reserve the right to add more later, and I’m inserting the ideas people shared in comments on yesterday’s post. (To which I randomly assigned star ratings – feel free to edit if they’re yours.)

I can’t wait to hear what you have to say!

TIP: If you have trouble editing your own words in the spreadsheet, try finding the text bar at the very top of the page – where it shows the same text as the box you’re trying to write in. You can click around in that text bar and edit easily up there.

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4 years ago

Shari, I have a request. 🙂 Please, pretty please! Covid-19 looks like it will be around long enough to make our Lent extend over Easter. (meaning no social gatherings, change in tradition). This will be sad (I’m tired of planning for and adapting to Covid-19 even while it is VERY VERY Necessary) but I wonder a. How the Lord will use it to grow our hearts when we have to celebrate a holiday full of tradition without the tradition and b. I wonder what ideas people have to make Easter meaningful in the era of physical distancing (I like this term better than social distancing). Could you do a post on this???? Blessings on your new adventures this Spring!

4 years ago
Reply to  Shari Zook

Its my favorite too! One thing I’ve done when isolated is have my own sunrise service – one year with my parents (we all had the flu), one year on my roof in mid Asia with my friend – we went out WAY t0o early and nearly froze), etc – and then come in for cinnamon rolls and coffee. Somehow being out early as Mary did helps make it real for me.

Wanna B. Writer
4 years ago

My carnal desire is to go on a rant about “Why on earth my phone is being innundated with boredom busting ideas” and “How on Earth can you women afford the luxury of boredom.” But the spirit of comparison/competition is something God has been trying hard to rid me of (it’s not leaving gracefully), so I’m going to scrap those words. Probably the reason I am not suffering from social distance quite like some people is that a large part of my social life feels obligatory. The only thing I feel very sad about is that I can’t go visit my mom. She is a widow and therefore very alone. She is also very vulnerable with her age and health issues so it is a loving, but hard, choice to stay away right now. In the few moments between intercepting toddler tantrums and keeping a very distractable first grader at his schoolwork, we do outdoor activities to refresh our minds. We live in the mountains so biking, hiking, and 4 wheeling are big parts of our normal life.

Wanna B. Writer
4 years ago
Reply to  Shari Zook

Please…please… laugh! I was (except for the part about my mom) sarcastically poking fun at my reclusive self, not trying to rain on your parade. This spreadsheet is going to be a sanity saver for many families. If I feel pressured by it – well, I can choose to not look at it, right? (Fat chance that will happen????????)

Shari Zook
4 years ago

Okay, now I AM laughing about the pressures we can’t avoid. Laughter is my personal favorite, although I am perfectly capable of laughing and facepalming at the same time. Often needed around here.

4 years ago

Ohhhhh, this is me!! The idea that my school children might need encouragement to use their free time wisely since they’re not in school sent me over the edge into tears yesterday. If everyone else is having free time with the homeschool situation, what in the (*insert word we don’t use in public*) am I doing wrong?!?! Of course not everyone else added their first foster child into this mix like we have, so there is that.

Excuse the pity party. This week has been utterly exhausting.

Shari Zook
4 years ago
Reply to  Bethany

Oh wow, I GET this. Prayers for grace and strength for you. xoxo

4 years ago

I can relate to all of this. Except my work is rotting like the cabbage in my fridge instead of the kale. Otherwise pretty much the same. I feel like I’m constantly fighting this battle of “Let’s make the most of this time” and “I just want it all to end.” I’ll try to add a few ideas to your chart since I’m enjoying others’ input.

Cathy Miller
4 years ago

I guess having older kids makes this pretty simple for me. They get their work done and then entertain themselves with basketball, puppies, virtual hunting, etc. Our evenings have started including a walk around town or on a local trail. Popcorn before bedtime seems to be a tradition as well by now. 🙂 With the rain in the forecast this week, I think I will get a puzzle started and have them clear the space around the ping pong table. I feel like all I do is cook and clean up though. 🙂 But sleeping in a bit longer and sharing my coffee while reading my Bible in the morning has been delightful. I do miss my church family but having several singles over on Sunday mornings helps.

Kendra L
4 years ago

I love all the great ideas that are showing up! I too want to make the most of these moments, create memories and all, but it is a big adjustment all at once to have school shut down, routines shattered, and so on. I’ve felt twinges of envy for the people who have to self-isolate for 14 days. (Think of the books I could read!) =) I have one child in particular who has a lot of energy and initiative, and if it isn’t being productively channeled, then we all feel the fall out. I’ve found it helps if I have a ready list of a simple jobs and activities. When he starts getting buggy, I tell him something like, you can dust or play Lego–you choose. And some good quality time (read aloud, table game or special activity) goes a long way toward the rest of the day.

4 years ago

One addition for homemade play-doh is to give your children googly eyes and pipe cleaners to dress up their creatures. It makes play-doh extra fun! (Even for moms.)

4 years ago

I tried the treasure hunt by Angela. My 5-year-old loved it and wanted to play it again and again and again….

[…] Have a sunrise service with your own family in your own backyard, and then come in for cinnamon rolls and coffee. (Blog reader MW.) […]

Linda Horst
4 years ago

My afterthoughts to this post and the comments under it are… Our family made an “Isolation 2020 Bucket List” with dozens of ideas for pleasant home-based activities (for a 3 and a 6 year old).This is not primarily because we are bored, and have nothing to do. It is not because we have to be on the road to be happy, because we love our home and being here. But having a fancy printed list on our refrigerator keeps us focused on the positive opportunities, keeps us planning about which fun item to try next, and keeps us away from the worrisome “why’s” of staying home and and practicing social distancing for weeks upon weeks upon endless weeks.
I was very impacted by this comment from a cousin, “The reactions of us adults will either trigger traumatic memories of the quarantine for the children in our lives, or good memories. Hopefully in years from now they can say to their kids that they had no idea it was such a critical time in our nation because of all the fun times they had as a family”.

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