Monday, May 30, 2016

Don't Fear the "I'm Bored"


Do you hate the feeling of being the family entertainer?  Is the thought of the upcoming summer with all those open-ended hours giving you a knot in your stomach?  Not this mom.

You might think I'm about to point you to all those great posts online about idea jars, bucket lists, summer boredom busters, etc.  I'm not going to do that.  While those ideas are really great and have their place, for sure, they still leave you with the work of planning and organizing, not to mention the expense that may go along with some of them.  No thanks.

My standard response to a kid saying "I'm bored" or "There's nothing to do" is...

"Ok"

And I leave it at that.  Because being bored really is ok.  I haven't done the research to confirm this, but I'm 100% sure that no child has ever died, or even become ill, due to boredom.

When I first started doing this, I got a lot of blank stares, but when the kids realized I was not going to drop what I was doing in order to create an elaborate treasure hunt to keep them busy for the next three hours, they eventually wandered off and found something to do.

Boredom is the impetus for creativity and invention.  It's been my experience that a bored child will only stay bored for five to ten minutes, tops, if you just let them be.  And, as a silver lining, the thing they come up with to do is usually creative, engages them with their siblings, and keeps them busy for a lot longer than, say, my playing a board game with them would.  Especially if screen time is not an option.

Now, before you think I'm too mean, this is not all to say that I never use some of those super-cool, super-fun ideas or that I never take the time to sit down and play with my kids.  It's important to spend that quality time with them.  I'm just careful to make sure that my spending time with them does not morph into my being their personal event planner.

And besides, I think my response of "Ok" is a lot softer and gentler than another popular response I've heard mentioned which is, "Only boring people get bored".  Ouch.  And so not true! Sometimes kids DO need a little help coming up with a few ideas.  Especially in the summertime when they might have several days in a row being at home and kind of exhausting their options.  Everyone needs some variety in their life, after all.  You'll be able to recognize those times by your rapidly rising blood pressure as you listen to kids whine, complain and bicker after you've tried the "ok" approach.  When that happens, I'll go ahead and consult Pinterest for some boredom busters and mom's-sanity-savers!

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