This weekend we picked up Amaleah from her first overnight camp. Yes, she survived and loved it and may have initially snubbed her family a tad in a very preteen way when we first saw her, but quickly got over it and warmed up to her old self again…oh, and lest I forget, she stayed in the same cabin that I stayed in as a kid. And no, nothing seems to have changed, it may have even been the same mattress, but I digress…On the way home, one of my sweet children just couldn’t take the boredom of being in the car any longer, and was begging to play a game on my phone, but I thought it was ridiculous and so I said,
“Embrace your boredom.” And immediately I felt that I had brilliantly coined a phrase that I have used several times since then (much to my children’s annoyance).
And it has totally led me to think over this whole boredom thing. Since when are we so afraid of our kids being bored? (and I say “we” because I’m assuming you may be going through the same thing at your house). Why is it such an unfathomable thing to have bored children every now and then? Yes, I know the sound of the whininess and no, I don’t like it either, and yes it makes me crazy when I list off 348 things they could be doing only to hear them say that none of those things sound good. But still I feel like in recent years there’s such a push to cater towards keeping our kids from being bored at all costs, and it’s starting to drive me crazy. Especially when it’s so easy to silence the boredom complaints by turning on the tv or passing your kid a device that will take away all their boredom problems (a solution I fall prey to far too often but am not willing to let it control me or this problem).
Of course, none of us want little ragamuffins running around, vandalizing our neighbor’s cars and mailboxes, making prank calls, and overall just being up to no good. Of course we want them to be good citizens that are productive and hard working, good managers of their time, useful with their hands, true renaissance people, able to turn a dull moment into the life of the party, always working, etc, etc. But come on, could it really hurt our kids to actually sit on their bottoms and have absolutely nothing to do??? I mean if you really think about it, when was the last time your kid just sat next to the window and stared out, bored looking, or plopped down at the kitchen counter and just sat there twiddling their thumbs? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that for most of us this just doesn’t happen that much anymore (enter in iPods, iPhones, iPads, computers, video games, and your favorite pinterest summertime blues boredom buster list). For that matter, when was the last time you sat around bored with nothing to do (yeh, when do moms have time for being bored, but you get my point don’t you?)
We are so consumed with having every single minute of our lives filled with something productive that we can’t even sit around with nothing to do, and we’re pressing this into our children, that every moment of their lives has to be impeccably planned out and if a moment comes where they feel they don’t know what to do with themselves, they better fill it up with something, anything, and quick. It’s easy to jump on my kids about being lazy when they have a moment of not having anything to do. But maybe these moments of boredom can be an opportunity to soak in life and think about your thoughts without being inundated with all the ways you can be productive.
Sometimes I just feel paralyzed with making sure I have good, productive options for my children to do in their free time–plenty of art supplies and educational toys, books to read, field trips to go on, friends to play with, and so on. I don’t know how to handle my kids pleas for something to do and satisfy them with the right answer. It’s tons of pressure to feel like I have to manage their time (I have a hard enough time managing my own) without ever having them be bored.
So what I’m saying is this: I think I’m going to allow my children to be bored. They know the options, they know all of the things I have in the craft area and the game closet, it’s not like they are clueless to what we have available for them. I’m not going to be so quick to fill their time with technology time or tv time, and I’m going to allow them to sit and daydream. It’ll be good for them to have some quiet moments to listen to their thoughts, perhaps come up with something off the wall to do (and in Landis’s case it might actually be climbing off the wall), and figure out their own options for things to do, even if it means stare out the window for a little bit.