As I looked at my two boys I realized something had to change. At that time, it was the beginning of Summer and I had to wrap up work before I could dive in with my two kids. I’ve worked from home for more than a decade. Our 8-year-old, the older of the two was sitting on the couch, literally staring out the window. His younger brother by two years was laying on the floor – listless.
When had they forgotten how to play and be a kid? When had my kids become “bored?”
How did this happen? How had staring out the window or lazing on the floor become the best option for my kids to do when there was no playdate, tv, electronics for them to plug into or when I (or a teacher) wasn’t literally telling them what to do?
Had I done too much for my kids? I’ll admit I’ve been the queen of planning for them. We’ve definitely been on the mommy cruise ship for a few years — planning play dates, day trips, fun crafts and science experiments. I was the Events Coordinator of my kid’s lives. This Summer our oldest boy had gotten into the habit of asking “what’s on the agenda?”
When they’re in school, it’s more of the same. Their entire day is planned for them, moving from project to project, thing to thing. No time to think for themselves, or get creative or play — really genuinely play.
Maybe that was the problem?
When I was a kid I played with dirt and collected rollie pollies and ants in old jars and I had a good ol’ time. My clothes got dirty and my hands and feet even dirtier. My older sister and I would be outside for hours letting our imagine run free. I turned out just fine, (depending on who you ask.)
Don’t get me wrong.. I love play dates and water parks and craft stuff just as much as the next mom, maybe even a little too much. BUT is it really helping them? So here’s the challenge – for you and for me. When your kids are whining about being bored, and you feel overwhelmed to spin and twirl and sing and pull out your Mary Poppins bag and paint an instant smile on their pouty faces, remember this:
Two things happen when kids are bored
1. It forces them to get creative and expand their imagination. Awesome. That’s a nice life-skill to have. In fact I’ve read a lot of reports lately, and maybe you have too, that say creativity will be in greater demand in the future than any other “skill” because so many kids (and adults) lack it. We will need people who are able to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions.
2. When kids are bored it also reinforces the concept that they are in charge of their own happiness. Learning to be content is an inside job and entirely up to them. They don’t need more things to enjoy life and they start to figure out that it’s not someone else’s job to present them with everything they could ever want on an expensive silver platter and tied up with a giant red bow.
These are things you can easily teach them now through letting them experience boredom (and the other side of it), or things they can learn the hard way later.
And, admit it. Kids are better at having fun than we are. I hop on Amazon when I want to have a good time, or I sit quietly in my car…like, I just sit there and literally do nothing or maybe return some messages with my besties. Kids do things like use a cardboard box as a stuffed animal bed, turn their room into a nightclub (yes it’s happened in our home… not sure our 6-year-old knew about clubs but ok) and use laundry baskets as canoes.
They win at knowing how to play every time, so never let yourself fall into the trap of feeling guilty for letting them do it.
P.S. Since giving my kids more free time to just play, I’m happy to report they are back to their old crazy, imaginative, wild selves as my little boys. Giving them time to be bored was the best gift I gave to my kids this past Summer. Best to you mama! You got this!