“Mom, I’m bored.”

“I’m busy, Dear.”

“There’s nothing to doooooo.”

“Well, figure it out or I’ll find something for you to do.”

It’s super cliché but this happens in every house in the country. Every time my kids come to me with this kind of complaint, I roll my eyes. They have toys, books, art supplies, costumes, puzzles, and more but want me to entertain them. Give me a break!

But something a little humiliating occurred to me lately. I do something pretty similar. I don’t go whine to my husband or my parents (cough, “much”) but there are certainly things in my life that bother me and I seem to be waiting for someone else to do something. Or at least it must look that way to my kids.

I want them to see me taking the power in my own life to change what’s around me. I’m sure we all do.

To start, we can find those little irritants that make us grimace but just sit there.  For me, they tend to revolve around cleaning, things like the smudges on my windshield or a disorganized cabinet in the bathroom. If you are naturally more organized than I am, maybe you have little irritants in your daily schedule or with an event.

Then, when the kids are around, we can take steps to fix them. I plan to take a spray bottle and paper towels with me the next time we get in the car. I’ll tell the kids, “These smudges have been annoying me. I’m going to fix it right now.” It’s obvious there’s nothing magical about those words but I hope that there will be a sort of magic as they watch me do this repeatedly. Maybe at some point, they’ll think to themselves, This thing is annoying, and then follow it up with, Oh! I know what I’ll do.

Now, paper towels and spray are easy enough. The hardest part is me remembering to take the cleaning supplies. But if I’m really honest with myself, and I suspect if you are honest with yourself, there are much bigger areas of life that boil down to the same concept. To tackle these, we need to face the hard truths. What are those areas of your life that lead you to discontent or guilt? What things weigh on you like an anchor?

For me, our family grew out of our tiny house a while ago and the resulting confusion stresses me out every day. Instead of grumbling, I need to make a plan to improve the situation and include my kids in it. Obviously, winning the lottery and buying a new house isn’t a viable option. So, my kids and I are going to empty one entire room at a time then put things back piece by piece in a more efficient way that makes sense for our lives now.

You might not need to worry about your house, but I bet you have something on your mind. What is it? And more importantly, what can you do to improve it? Show your children by example that, like finding something to do when you’re bored, they can take steps to change what they don’t like.