The kids have been out of school for a little over two weeks, and we've already packed a lot of summer fun into our days. We've had movie marathons, sleepovers, all-day pool parties, play dates at the local video arcade/pizza buffet, daddy-daughter dates, manicures, father-son camp-outs, hanging-out-with-mommy nights, trips to the library, monster-brownie-sundae dessert nights, water fights, picnics... and my son just got home from a week-long "trek" (the young men and women from the congregations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in our area divided into families and handcart companies, then participated in a recreation of the pioneer trek west). We've been so busy, I've barely had time to stop and take a breath. Two-and-a-half weeks into the summer break, and I'm already on the verge of collapse. There's no way I'll be able to keep up this frantic pace all summer long.
And yet, several times a day, I hear a chorus of voices loudly proclaiming "Mom, I'm bored. There's nothing to do." And then I feel guilty. Maybe I'm not doing enough. Maybe we haven't planned sufficient fun activities to fill the summertime void. Maybe...
Hmmm.... Maybe the problem isn't actually my lack of fun-juggling skills. I'm only one person, after all, and I'm simply not physically capable of being a one-woman variety show.
Yesterday, when we picked up our son from his trek activity, he was all smiles and bubbling excitement. As we waited for our turn to attack the buffet of food for the family, end-of-trek picnic, he proudly showed us the sticks he'd whittled along the trail and proclaimed that the activity was really fun. An hour later, when we climbed into the car for the drive home after the picnic, I asked for details.
me: "So, tell me about your week. What did you do? What did you learn? What did you and your friends talk about?"
DS: "I learned that walking a lot makes my feet really tired. There was nothing to do, and it was really boring."
me: "What? All week long, nothing exciting or fun happened? Did you at least have fun with your friends?"
DS: "No. I didn't get a turn when we were rappelling, because the time for the activity ran out just as I got to the front of the line. And I was in the back of the group while we walked, so no one was talking to me."
me: But weren't you just telling me, while we were waiting for our food, about the fun conversations you had with Natalie? Maybe, if I press harder, you'll remember those times? "I'm sorry you didn't get a chance to participate in the rappelling activity. But there were OTHER fun things that happened this week, right? What DID you do? Did you learn anything?"
DS: "No. It was really boring, and my feet hurt."
... And a conversation with DD#2 Friday afternoon (after she spent all day Thursday in her friend's pool, followed by a sleepover & movie marathon with that friend Thursday night/Friday... followed by a trip to the library, where we watched a magic show)...
DD#2: "I'm bored. Mom, there's nothing to do. Can we go swimming?"
me: "I'm sorry, sweetie. I'm really tired right now, and I have to finish my work before I can play again. Why don't you read one of your library books?"
DD#2: cries "I never have any friends to play with, and no one ever wants to do anything with me. This summer is so boring."
I've had so many similar conversations in the past couple of weeks. And the common thread that weaves them all together is a severe case of negative thinking. It doesn't matter how fun and amazing the day or week is going, if you only focus on the things that aren't good enough, or the things that have gone wrong, you'll never be happy.
I've issued a challenge to my kiddos: Spend at least 5 minutes each day documenting (in a journal, a Facebook status update, an audio file or a video... I don't care how, as long as it's documented) the blessings and positive aspects of the day. I guarantee that, when they focus on what's going well, instead of life's disappointments, they'll find that this summer is anything but boring.
What about you? Are you suffering from a case of My-Life-Sucks-Itis? I'm 100% positive that a daily dose of gratitude is the miracle cure for what ails you. Try this simple experiment for a week, then check back in with me. I'd love to hear about your results!