Photo: Surabhi Surendra

‘Mumma, I am bored. What should I do?’

The first time my pre-schooler uttered the word boring, I assumed she found the word fancy enough to use it and that she might have learnt it in her class that day.

Next day when she said it again, I asked her to cook something for her dolls.

When she complained yet again, ‘Mumma, I am bored. You are so boring’, for the third time in two days, I had my alarm bells ringing.

I am not a boring person as such so when my five year old found me utterly dull to complain thrice in two days, I had to be watchful of the way I was connecting with her. Mine is a single child so it is easier for her to find things monotonous.

I asked her what she wanted to do and she replied, ‘something interesting’ with frowns on her forehead and long downward curve on her lips.

‘Let’s make a sock bunny. Okay?’

‘What’s that?’, she still sounded grumpy.

‘It is a bunny that we make from one of your cute socks. Does it sound interesting?’

She was silent. I played a tutorial video on Youtube and as she watched the making of the bunny, she wanted hers to be made. So that evening when she was utterly bored, we made a sock bunny.

Since that day a year ago, I have made conscious efforts to become a more connected and involved parent with her. We have created rainbows and birthday cards. We have made videos of each other acting as rock stars. We have organized our respective rooms together and we have invented a dozen of games that only the two of us can understand and play.

Thankfully, she hasn’t used the word ‘boring’ again.

Here are five of my strategies that I use to keep her actively engaged and to become a less boring and more connected parent to her.

Create – Kids love creating, whatever it is, but it should be created by them. I learnt it the day she was glued to me as I made a bunny from one of her pink colored socks. Even though I didn’t let her use the needle, she was still watching me sew it attentively. She was not interested in the sock or the needle or the bunny. She was absorbed in the process of the creation.

Narrate – In first person, that is. Nothing keeps them more attentive than listening to their parents’ stories. My kiddo absolutely loves it. When I want to tell her a story, I mostly use the first person to make her believe that it isn’t a fantasy or a false story. Also, stories in first person send out a strong moral message which helps tremendously in inculcating good values in the kids.

Meditate – Not literally but childishly. By meditating, I mean spending some time with the kid with ‘doing nothing’ yet enjoying with her. For example, almost once everyday, my baby and I lie down on the couch in each others’ arms and do nothing creative yet we both cherish this time the most. This is our time of getting naughty with each other. We become the best of fools of ourselves and act as crazy as we can. These days we have been playing ‘word game’. I usually begin the game by saying any abrupt, crazy, meaningless or any kind of word. Lets say I utter – bamblaboosh. She says – ankatoosh. I say – hullooobulloo. She says – annabannoo. It does not necessarily have to be rhyming but she always tries to rhyme it up but that’s okay as long as she enjoys it. This time that I call our ‘naughty meditation’ gives us countless number of laughs as we bond over childish activities.

Relate (or associate) – Attach them to a small, minute yet crucial purpose. It is important for them to have a sense of purpose or responsibility even if they are pre-schoolers. My daughter has a room to herself that has her bed, cupboard, table-chair and her toys. Even though she sleeps with us in the bedroom, I make it a point to spend some time with her in her room saying, ‘let’s go to your room.’ I do it deliberately so that she relates to her room. Every evening when she plays in this room with her friends and converts it into a war zone, I ask her to clean it up. She hardly does any cleaning but she definitely picks up the pieces lying around and puts them on the table and half of my job is done.

Communicate – Nothing is more inquisitive for kids than an engaging conversation. Their curious mind is always running ahead to know what happened next. I have begun to talk a lot with my baby. Every morning as I wake her up for the school, I take her out in our balcony and show her the birds. As I feed her milk, I tell her the stories of birds who came to visit her while she was sleeping. I make up stories of how the birds were waiting in our balcony to meet her but she gets up late and by then the birds are gone.

My daughter now believes that all those sparrows and pigeons actually want to meet her and that they are her friends. So much so that she has now kept three bird feeders in our two balconies. Similarly, during winters when stepping out into the balcony early in the morning is not practical, I talk to her by asking her questions about her dreams. I also cook up stories of how she keeps rotating on the bed all night and keeps her mom and daddy searching for her. This totally cracks her up as she imagines that all night she defeats her parents in the catch-me-on-the-bed game. Converse with them in a way that has them as the main character. They need to be the heroes of their lives.

So far the steps above have helped me in keeping the phrase ‘I am bored’ at bay. With time she may outgrow these techniques too but then I will cross the bridge when it comes.

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