Humor Parenting

What to Do If Your Kid Says "I'm Bored"

Toilet in german theater munich
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It only takes once.

If your child says, “I’m bored,” this summer, here’s what you do.

First get all worked up into a thrilled frenzy. Then, in the most madly excited voice you can muster say:

“You are! Because I have the best thing for you to do, and I was just waiting for you to say you wanted to do something new.”

Take your bored child gently by the hand and guide him to the bathroom.

(Ed. note: *The brush needs to be there already or else he will try to escape.*)

Have your child stand before the toilet and hand him the brush.

(Ed. Note: *You must gush here. Very important to ooze gush.*)

Start swirling.

At first, your child might like this activity, especially after you add all the bubbly cleaning supplies and let him swish them around – but after a short while, as we all know, this task loses its magic.

He will want to stop.

When he moans or complains or asks to stop, look positively bewildered.

(*Seriously, you must appear profoundly confused. Furrow your brow, but only briefly. We don’t want to leave wrinkles.*)

“But you said you were bored…”

Don’t forget to remind your child that you have X more toilets to clean if you hear him say he is bored again.


Monkey has not said “I’m bored” since he was 4-years old.

On a down note, for the last 7 years, I have been the Chief Cleaner of all Things Porcelain.

What tactics do you employ when your child complains that he or she is bored in the summer?

• • •

Today marks my 200th post. To show how much I love the folks who comment and to make sure you are not bored, I have a fun little exercise: If you leave a comment on today’s post, I will create a fabulously fun post which will share how we met. Of course, all the content will be a lie. That’s right, I will create a piece of fabulous fiction to include each one of you. If you have a blog, I will even show you some linky-love. So let’s have a little fun! If you’ve never left a comment before, this is the day to do it!

76 thoughts on “What to Do If Your Kid Says "I'm Bored"

  1. Well, so far this morning, on this the first weekday of the school holidays, I’ve suggested:
    1. Trip into the capital.
    2. Trip to see new neice to make her laugh. Which is easy.
    3. Making a film – story, recruit mates as actors, film and I’ll help edit it.
    4. Other stuff.
    5. The threat of a long walk.
    …to no avail. Perhaps I should accidentally-on-purpose let my resident creative genius (aka daughter) read your suggestion. But stop her before she gets to this comment.

    Anyway, as far as I remember, it was a chilly day in Bratislava as we fled hand in hand across that iced over river. We hadn’t even been properly introduced.

  2. Thankfully as long as she’s been going to overnight camp she isn’t here to say she’s bored. Gotta love those overnight camps!! 😉

  3. Although I don’t have any children myself, I like the way you think! As far as how we met, I am sure your memory (imagination) is much better than mine. I look forward to reading about it from your perspective! 🙂

  4. One child jumps at the chance to clean the whole house, and the other doesn’t say she’s bored, just asks if she can see what Monkey is doing. Actually, I tell them to stretch for dance and then they leave me alone.

  5. I’ve actually done the exact same thing! Except oddly, my kids liked it. The little freaks would fight over who got to scrub the toilet. I haven’t cleaned a toilet in years.
    Luckily, my kids always loved to do crafts and I kept a steady supply of materials for that. When that didn’t work, the suggestion of practicing large quantities of math facts (long division and subtraction of large numbers across zeros were a favorite) usually kept them in line.

    I can’t wait to hear how we met!! Congrats on your 200th post!! 🙂

  6. Well, that’s some serious fun coming up for my daughters (grinning while I type)! Today I plan on creating my own list of intriguing items for them when they are in the “bored” stage of life; cleaning the grout with a toothbrush just might get me called, “Mommy Dearest”!

    Great post!

    “Really?!? I’ve got something that you can do.”
    “What is it!?!?!?!?!!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!”
    My most serious deadpan: “Clean your room. It’s a pit.”
    “Then are you really bored?”
    Sheepishly: “No…”
    “Good. Then go outside and play. You may clean your room this evening rather than watch TV.”

  8. Too much. When my daughter, my niece and nephew say that they are bored. My sister and I say in unison that when we were your ages….. “We would come home from school, do our homework and immediately go out side and play with all the kids in the neighborhood. We had a kickball, a skateboard, bike, and tennis racquets. We made due with those things and played all night until our mom screamed out that it was too dark and we had to come in. NO electronics back then. Want us to take them away?” They disappear and we laugh because we sound so old!

  9. I was well trained in the ways of motherhood by my own mother and had this cure for the common boredom well ingrained before I had children of my own. Yes, usually chores were involved. However, those chores were quickly done and adorable people were once again using the “B” word. It was heard often in my home. We turned eventually to journaling or I’d throw out some math problems usually related to whatever I was cooking. Why are they always bored at dinner cooking time?

  10. Nothing gets me more riled than hearing the words, “I’m bored,” unless it’s the seventy-ninth request of the day, “Can I go on the computer?” My response? “Go sit in the hammock,” or “Go throw the ball for Tobey,” the newest addition to our familly, who also gets bored easily…and turns to mischief-making to solve his boredom! Hammock-sitting turns into an afternoon, well maybe only an hour, of swinging or drawing in the shade. Then I become grateful for my grandchildren’s boredom because they are experiencing the deep calm of summer vacation.

    1. PS I always keep a ton of art and craft supplies for grandchildrens’ visits. Duct tape wallets and roses won their hearts this trip!!!

      1. Talk about an enormous generation gap, right? Why don’t they want to sit in hammocks? Or dance in the rain? Or ride bikes? Or even play REAL Scrabble? They’d rsather play virtual Words With Friends on the couch than set up the board. Weird.

        Thanks for posting, D’Alta. Can’t wait to tell everyone how we met. I still hate that girl. You know the one, right? 😉

  11. I think I’ve only used this tactic once, but I definitely use it when my kids complain when I ask them to clean their room (“Fine, I’ll clean your room and you can clean the bathrooms”).

  12. I am commenting and I want my own story!!!!!!! Very nice idea to exercise a bored child’s mind!!!!!

  13. Wow – kids these days are getting soft! The house I grew up in had three bathrooms. There were three of us siblings. My mother offloaded the cleaning of a bathroom every couple of years as we each reached the age of eight or so. We had to clean it each Saturday, with a post-chore inspection to clear as well.

    I wish I could say that made me vigilant about cleaning my own bathroom now, but I would be totally lying. I think, two decades after leaving my parents’ home, I’m still rebelling and thinking “I’ll clean the bathroom when I damn well feel like it.”

  14. When I was growing up, my mom filled my summers with math camp, chemistry camp, writing camp, and every other kind of nerdy camp out there. My friends seem to think this explains a lot about me.

    Psst, secret: I actually really enjoyed most of the camps. If your kid likes learning and has run out of normal fun sleepaway camps, I’d highly recommend 🙂

  15. “I am bored”
    “Hi bored, I am mom, nice to meet you”
    “MoooooooOOOm, I am bored”
    “and who is responsible for that”
    child pauses, “Um, you are”
    “No, you are responsible for your time (when not touching an electronic device), however if there is something you wish to do, I am more than happy to help you, play with you or take you. until that time do not say I am bored”
    “MoooOOOOm, I am bored”
    “Hi bored, nice to meet you!”
    (child gives up and miraculously finds an activity)

    1. Hi Lisa:

      I’m bored. And I’m relentless. Or haven’t you heard. 😉 Boy do I have a doozie about how we met. It will be a complete lie, of course. Do you still have that rosary. You know the one, right?

  16. Love, love, love it! Haven’t tried this “toilet trick” yet, but sure will give it a try! Congrats on #200! Wow whee, girl!

  17. I love this! I’m definitely going to have to tuck this in the back of my mind for future use. Of course, this Thursday’s post is actually about how Li’l D appears to be more cleaning-inclined than either of his parents. (No idea how that happened!)

    This reminds me of an encounter from my childhood. My mom was delighted to see my just-younger sister and I doing dishes without protest. We were standing side by side at the kitchen sink with arms immersed in water. My mom took this to be a sign of diligence the first time she entered the kitchen. When she came back ten minutes later and found the exact same number of dishes done (maybe two?), she realized we were actually just diligently playing “dishsoap mermaids.”


    1. If you have a cleaning inclined child, you are so psyched. Make it a privilege. Like you are TRUSTING Li’l D with all these chemicals and stuff. Oh, she will be so psyched. LIke for ten minutes.

      I love “dish-soap mermaids.” Please turn that into a blog entry immediately. 😉

  18. I use the same things my mom employed.
    1) Clean your room.
    2) clean your closet.
    3) help me clean the house (dust, vacuum, clean bathroom, etc.)
    4) weed the garden/flowers
    5) sort out the clothes that don’t fit any more

    *evil chuckle*

  19. I like your idea. I guess there’s always weeding. I always suggest a) go swim in the lake, b) go ride your bike, c) read a book, d) write a letter to your grandma (or post card to a teacher), e) call a friend, f) empty the dishwasher, I guess by then I am out of options. I’ll have to try your method next time. I am glad Monkey is never bored – he sounds like he keeps himself busy!

    1. Hi Clay!

      Monkey has learned to keep himself occupied. He knows too much about toilets. And there is always practicing Hebrew, which is pretty low on his list of favorite activities. I think he’d rather your list — which he has learned to do on his own.

      Can’t wait to tell you how we met. Because it was truly such an embarrassment. And you were such a gentleman. I so appreciate your never speaking of it again. 😉

  20. Congrats on 200 posts! I’m making my way to 100 and am trying to figure out what fun things I can do to mark the occasion .

    As for what to do with kids who say they’re bored…I would totally put that kid to work. My parents would immediately put us to work or give us a 10-minute lecture (which was even worse than the chores!). I don’t think it’s a good idea to indulge the child and let him/her believe that other people are responsible for his/her entertainment. Plus, I just don’t have the patience for the “Well, let’s go find something fun to do!” because then I would be bored 😉 And this is another reason why it’s very likely a good thing I don’t have kids 😉

  21. Hi Renee,

    My fallback response to “I’m bored,” is to throw my arms in the air and exclaim, “It’s SSCD! Super Saturday Clean-up Day.” [Modify the acronym and day where appropriate].

    As parents, we’ve failed in the get-her-to-keep-her-room-clean department, with our youngest, so there’s always clean-up to be done.


  22. Hmmm, having no kids of my own I can’t really comment – but I want to anyway, because this is your 200th post and that is fantastic; congratulations! 🙂

    So let’s see… When I was a kid and told my parents I was bored, I was given chores if I couldn’t come up with a way to amuse myself. Luckily it wasn’t all that often because I usually had my brother and sister for company, but at times, helping dad with the gardening was a big one for us. It got us outside and there was ALWAYS gardening to be done.

    1. Hi Christian. Thanks for the congratulations. So you were big on the weeding, eh? Interesting because I kind of remember a time when we were in the weeds and you didn’t hava very good time. I’ll refresh your “memory” later. 😉

  23. Renee, I like the dramatics you employ! Your excessive bubbliness is a very marked difference from my father’s surliness. Anytime my siblings or I would claim to be bored, my father would look us straight in the eye and say “There is no such thing as bored.” He would then glare at us until we decided to believe him. We learned to be creative, bring a book with us everywhere we went, and keep our mouths shut. Otherwise, he would continue on to say “Or I’ll make you board!” with an enormous grin on his face. Oh, my silly father with his puns. 🙂

    Have a wonderful day!

  24. I’ve enjoyed being a silent follower of the blog. I say the blog because it is the only one I follow. I’m piping up to say that I too wave the toilet brush in response to my children’s summer exclamations of boredom. Although today Hannah was made to clean out the coat closet. (Toilets were already in good shape.) This because she had finished her book and had nothing to do. She later mentioned that she thought it was time to continue working on her own book and disappeared.

    1. Hi Becky!

      Cleaning seems to be the answer to the “I’m bored” statement. Your Hannah sounds like a smart gal — taking her book and making herself scarce! 😉

      I have a pretty good idea how we met, you lurker, you!

  25. My daughter is 20 now and I asked her what I did when she said, “I’m bored.” The answer from me was “read a book” which she claims she never did. Not a very effective strategy, I guess.
    Congrats on your 200th post! I enjoy your blog.

    1. Hi Ermigal!

      As long as it kept her quiet, perhaps it was more effective than you think. There is value in learning not to whine, right? 😉

      Can’t wait to tell everyone how we met. Do you remember your hair?

  26. We told our children early on that we should NEVER hear the words “I’m bored!” We remind them of that every summer. We say we are NOT their cruise directors. They need to find their own fun and activities to keep them occupied. They have every toy, gadget, video system, tons of sports equipment, woods to explore, a pool, friends in the neighborhood, day camps and overnights camps, and they have mandatory reading and writing time each day. How can they ever be bored? My husband and I tell them stories of how we kept our days busy. We had no video games, no “good” tv of 1000+ channels, no movies to poop in, no cell phones, no texting etc. So, instead of “I’m bored.”… my children say, “So, what should I do now?” UGH!

  27. I agree with everything you got here, but I would add that changing the brush to a toothbrush and pointing to the underside of the slimy beast is even more effective.

  28. I have made the suggestion of “clean your room” to the declaration of “I’m bored”, and somehow she still manages to reply “I don’t want to do that!” So, I haven’t been very successful in getting my kids to clean when they are bored. Although any time I have the vacuum cleaner or broom out, my younger daughter does want to take over for me. (Yay!) Unfortunately, she isn’t really capable yet of doing a very thorough job (Boo!). I have, however, successfully used the cleaning of the bathroom as a punishment. After the umpteenth time that older daughter forgot something for school, and asked me (by cell phone, while still on the bus en route) to drive it over, I decided that this was a good tactic to employ. Since she was inconveniencing me during the early morning rush to get everyone out of the house and myself to work, she would have to do something to lighten my load – clean MY bathroom – thoroghly! The toilet was the easiest part – how hard is it to squirt that stuff around the bowl, swish the toilet brush around, and flush? No, the hard part is scrubbing the shower – the floor and the walls – removing all evidence of soap scum! Once she was done with my bathroom, she had to repeat in hers! She didn’t forget anything else for school the rest of the year!

    Of course, I’m dying to hear how we met!

      1. No, no. She had to do mine first, THEN hers. Had to make sure that my bathroom was done first – priorities, you know.

        Yes, I’m quite certain that’s where we met!

  29. Eek, seriously full of comments, this post! And I’m late responding, cos… cos… well, I plead ‘computer problems’ and… other things.
    I’ve no kids, but getting yours to do the toilet is just marginally better (worse?) than my mother’s cure for boredom which was getting is to soak smelly cane in buckets of water and then weave baskets out of them. I chucked out the last misshapen basket just a few years ago…

    So, how did we meet? By the hotdog stall at the base of Mount Etna or somewhere equally splendid?

  30. My 10 yr old LOVES to clean the toilets. No joke. He told his friends he knew how to clean a toilet and they were all amazed. Then I did some elaborate praising of his stellar toilet cleaning abilities. After that, he felt like the best toilet cleaning 10-yr-old alive and he has become unstoppable. 🙂

    Congrats on 200!

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