I probably heard that within the first sixty minutes of the kids finishing up their school year. I’ll probably hear it an exponential number of times this summer – starting in the morning and progressing throughout the day and building up to a roar at 4pm as I’m wishing I had figured out dinner at 8am and so on. I’ll probably answer well then you can do chores or find something to do or go outside an equally infinite number of times.
Here’s the truth.
I’m okay with them being bored.
In fact, I kind of want them to experience boredom in childhood. I realized it even more after I was reading this article – I’m Done Making My Kid’s Childhood Magical – in Huff Post. I think I’ve always kind of known that I want them to be bored, but have never articulated those boredom feelings from the brain to a written document. Maybe because boredom isn’t trendy or we look at being bored with not being a good parent because we think we should be giving them opportunities and stuff to do always.
But what if boredom is the opportunity?
Really? Think about this:
Boredom just might be the space in which creativity and tenacity and invention and excitement happens.
Our kids live in this over scheduled and hyper busy world. Us parents are expected in a way to entertain, just like the above mentioned article references, over and over and over. There’s this weird guilt in a way as well – like maybe our children won’t turn out right if we’re not on the floor with them playing dolls or flipping flashcards or running at the park every single day. I know, I’ve dealt with the guilt of not being the ever present parent.
But, as soon as I write those words I realize even more that I want my kids to get to that point in life where they sit in the tension of boredom and have to push through that feeling to figure out what to do next.
I want them to figure it out – not be told or rely on someone else to provide them with momentary happiness of something to do that just fills the space of boredom but really doesn’t solve it.
It reminds me of when I worked merchandising at Pier 1 Imports. When I’d interview I’d look for the person who wouldn’t look for me to tell them what to do next but would rather be looking for what could be done without the handholding in the moments of workplace boredom. That’s what I tell my kids too about work – always be seeking out the next thing and don’t wait for someone to tell you the next item on the list – and if you can’t figure out something you can always sweep.
I think some of that being able to figure out what to do next comes in the boredom moments of childhood.
Boredom is where the creativity is forced to be born and be unearthed. If I’m always giving the next agenda or filling the gaps of boredom with things to do then they’re simply not forced to figure out on their own the joy in exploration and reading and what to do when it feels like there is nothing else to do.
So I let them be bored.
The interesting thing is that the things that seem like they are an expected part of childhood – going to the park daily, playing croquet at night, projects and crafts and everything – no longer are expected but are rather appreciated a bit more. Like they realize that we all have stuff that we need to do and finish and family moments spent together are moments of joy.
You’re going to play this tonight? Woohoo!! This is awesome!
That’s what I hear.
Maybe it’s because I’ve learned to become okay with them understanding the lazy days of childhood. Maybe it’s because I’ve become okay with not needing to keep them occupied every single moment.
Being bored isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Being bored might be one of the greatest gifts we can give our kids – even though it can be quite aggravating until they figure out what to do next – because we are allowing them space to think for themselves. To seek opportunity. To figure out options. To create. To invent.
Boredom means a bit of space.
And in a world now that suffocates most moments with the busy maybe a bit of boredom mixed in is exactly what is needed.
It sure does make going to the park more meaningful. Or games in the backyard. Or that board game in the afternoon.
So, yeah, I’m going to hear I’m bored this summer. But chances are by the time summer wears on and the days get hotter and so on that the sighs of boredom will be replaced with adventure and inventing and more.
If not, well, there are always chores.