You’ve binge-watched all 254 episodes of “Bewitched.”

You’ve finally started that daily journal you were going to write, but there’s nothing to do and you’ve got nothing to write about.

You’ve watched so many “Love It or List It” episodes on HGTV that you already know if that couple in Memphis is going to love their refreshed house of if they’re going to list it.

We’re only a couple weeks into our enforced staycation and social distancing and already we’re all bored, bored, bored.

I was doing a little research for a potential Tribune story about what parents should do about their bored kids when I realized it’s not just the kids, it’s the adults, too.

When I retired, I decided, no more books on how to be a good manager. That was then. Retirement was now. I decided to read the entire Perry Mason series of books – all 52 of them. I know, not much of a goal but reading all those management books wasn’t particularly inspiring either.

Thanks to social distancing – and the Lake Houston YMCA being closed, I’m up to book number seven, “The Case of the Caretaker’s Cat,” but I thought maybe, in my unsophisticated method of research, I could find something to focus on for a while besides Earle Stanley Garner (he wrote all 52 Perry Mason books).

I was wrong.

Most of what I found was bizarre or amusing or just not me.

The “just not me” idea was the guy yesterday who ran 1066 laps in five hours in his own backyard in order to complete a marathon. I know it’s true. He livestreamed it. USA Today wrote about it. Bored people watched it!

The “bizarre” idea I read about was a recommendation to apply for a new job. You’ve got the time and you’ve got the remote work experience now, the writer suggested. On the other hand, most of us hope to hold onto the job we have now.

The “amusing” idea was the author who suggested, in jest I think, to text all your exes in case you have one more thing you want to get off your chest.

Two ideas I’m willing to try are meditation and looking at puppy pictures. One writer suggests we lie down, eyes closed, palms up, focusing on our breath. Or sit cross-legged and repeat a soothing word to yourself. I’d be thinking my breath smells and I need to brush my teeth. I don’t know if I could think of a soothing word. 

Maybe I could combine the two. Focusing on my breathing, cross-legged, of course, while I look at puppy pictures. The article had a link to photos from Puppy Bowl XVI and the author is spot on. Those puppy pictures are adorable. I’m feeling better just reminiscing about them.

Back to the bored kids, Jennifer Carney from Carney Tutoring suggests having a different theme every day helps. Play in the back yard day or clean your room day. She suggests giving kids missions to accomplish and attaching rewards to them, not necessarily money, either. Reward them with something they want or would like.

Jennifer also suggests sending the kids outside with gardening tools and then locking the doors. I’m pretty sure she was joking.

Lake Houston Psychologist Kimberly Boyd had some terrific ideas, too. Have a Bingo tournament, hold a treasure hunt, camp in the living room, interview an older family member via Skype or Facetime or create a time capsule to document this time in history.   

Maybe the most interesting – and difficult – advice, though, came from a registered psychologist, mother to two growing kids and author of “Discipline without Damage: How to Get Your Kids to Behave without Messing Them Up.”

Do nothing, recommends Dr. Vanessa Lapointe. Next time your child says, “I’m bored,” she writes, “you just smile at them and say, I love bored.”

“Kids need to sit in their own boredom for the world to become quiet enough that they can hear themselves. It is only when we are surrounded by nothing that something comes alive on the inside,” she writes.

Wow! That’s deep. In this moment of social distance, that might work for us adults, too.

Tom Broad
Author: Tom BroadEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Besides being a proud graduate of The University of Nebraska-Lincoln and, therefore, a Cornhusker, I am retired from Memorial Hermann. I am a correspondent and columnist for Lake Houston's hometown paper, The Tribune, as well as a director of the Lake Houston Redevelopment Corporation, a member of the board of the Humble Area Assistance Ministries, and Volunteer Extraordinaire for the Lake Houston Area Chamber.

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