“I’m bored”: Two little words that can send your blood pressure through the roof in the blink of an eye. Bored? BORED???? Oh really? I have an idea—maybe you could get out the new video game that was the only thing you wanted for your birthday (I mean, besides the other things you wanted).

Did you forget about the miniature spa I bought for your dolls so they could be treated better than I was on my wedding day? Have you looked in that room, you know the one, we moms trickily call “the PLAY room?” It’s filled with toys, and games and crap you could not live without. The stuff that I ran around to seven stores like a crazy person trying to find on December 23rd when you spontaneously up and changed your wish list.

If there is a mom that exists who hasn’t threatened to give away every toy in the house to children that would appreciate them, I would like to meet her and give her a big ol’ high five…and possibly offer her my children. The last (of many) times my kids uttered those two words, I channeled my inner Zen (OK, I had a glass of Pinot) and realized it wasn’t that they had nothing to do. It was that they had so much to do that they couldn’t process it all. To save everyone’s sanity, my family created an “I’m Bored List,” and you can too with this simple battle plan:

Step 1. Make a list of categories for all the activities around your house: board games, toys, crafts, indoor activities, outdoor activities, make believe, etc.

Step 2: Call a family meeting (i.e., sit down for dinner)…preferably with a bag of M&Ms in hand (hey, bribery works).

Step 3. Tell your crew that you are going to play a game. Category-by-category go around the table and have everyone start listing things you have to do in your house that could fit into each category. Games, for example, could be Monopoly, checkers, UNO, etc. For each contribution, they get an M&M (win) and you get an idea to add to your list (win). You’ll be shocked by all of the, “Oh yea, I forgot about that game!” “That used to be my favorite!” and “We haven’t played that in forever!”

Step 4. Have everyone count their M&Ms. Announce (in dramatic fashion) that the number of M&Ms around the table are the number of things there are to do around your house (allow the smile to spread across your face as you declare victory in the war to prove that boredom is not humanly possible in your household).

Step 5. Type up all of the ideas and hang your new “I’m Bored List” in a prominent place in your home. Every time you hear those two evil little words, simply point to the list and voila!

Step 6 (optional, but recommended.)  In the rare case that the “I’m Bored List” fails to entertain, it’s always good to have a back up. I’ve found that simply adding the line: “If you still cannot find anything to do on the ‘I’m Bored List,’ come see mom for the ‘Chores List’” does the trick!

Laurie Larsh

Laurie Larsh is a freelance writer & travel blogger. She has paraglided in the Swiss Alps, hiked a glacier in Norway and jumped off a 1,400-year-old Italian bridge--none of which have prepared her for parenting tweens. Check out her travel insights for adults and kids at www.goexplauring.com.