When the “I’m bored” complaints start to roll in.
Summer break has started and with it comes a flurry of excitement and potential plans. Beaches, swimming pools, playgrounds, and water fights, may just be some of the exciting activities calling your kids names.
My kids always get so thrilled for summer and the potential it holds. They can’t wait for less structure, and more opportunity to just play. That said, it always appears that a couple weeks – or sometimes even days – into summer break my kids start with the “I’m bored” complaints. And with that the boredom train is in full motion.
Actually, as I’m writing this my son just walked up to me and said, “I’m bored!” What’s a parent to do? Hand them a tablet? Have a list of fun activities to do? Drop everything and take them somewhere incredibly entertaining? Chances are, after another year of homeschool/virtual learning, the last thing you want to do is have an epic schedule packed with activities. But you also don’t want to let them sit in front of a screen all day. So, what do you do?
Should you have a schedule for each day?
What’s your go-to going to be? Have a beautifully curated schedule for every single day? Filled with extraordinary activities, crafts, snacks and fun? Or, are you going to just let your child be completely bored all summer? Maybe a happy medium between the two? What’s your plan for the ‘I’m bored’ days?
First of all, let’s just address the elephant in the room. When our children complain it makes us uncomfortable. I mean, it’s supposed to, right? From when your child was born, you learned to help them. You fed them, changed them, cared for them, entertained them, whenever they needed it. So, naturally when your child begins to whine that they are just so bored, you want to solve this issue for them too. In those moments, it’s all too easy to just hand them the tablet to calm their cries of boredom and solve the temporary issue.
But you don’t need to do that!
Guess what? You don’t need to do that. See, obviously there are complaints that we need to take seriously from our children. But boredom? That’s not one of them. According to Dr. Vanessa Lapointe, boredom is actually really good for your child. She says: “Children need to sit in their own boredom for the world to become quite enough that they can hear themselves.” It makes us uncomfortable though, right?
I mean, as a mom I want my kids to be happy. I want to help them in every single way that I possibly can. So, when they complain I feel the need to fix it, even when it’s just boredom related.
However, constantly entertaining your children isn’t a source of help, but rather a source of harm. Before you freak out. Stop. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with planning fun activities for your kids, that’s excellent! But, you just don’t need to do it all the time! Because that’s usually recipe for parental burn-out. (Unless that’s truly your jam then go for it.)
Boredom isn’t bad.
“Children need time to themselves – to switch off from the bombardment of the outside world, to daydream, pursue their own thoughts and occupations, and discover personal interests and gifts. Letting the mind wander from time to time is important for everybody’s mental wellbeing and functioning.” Says Dr. Theresa Belton.
It’s true, in today’s world kids do have a much harder time with boredom than in generations before them. Why is that? Well, the answer is pretty obvious. Technology being one of the biggest killers of boredom. Following closely behind are extracurricular activities. We’ve essentially created a world where children have highly structured lives, with basically no time to just be.
What are the benefits of boredom for my child?
- Boredom inspires creativity and imagination. Research has found that people who are given a bunch of boring tasks to complete actually show more imagination when they’re then asked to take part in a creative thinking activity?
- Boredom teaches Resilience. Allowing your kids time to just be bored and have to ‘entertain’ or ‘amuse’ themselves is an excellent way to help your child develop resilience.
- Letting your kids be bored actually helps them develop problem-solving skills!
- Being bored can help your child learn how to build relationships.
- Boredom can improve mental health. Because being too busy (even as an adult) isn’t good.
- Boredom makes childhood happier. What? Really? Yes! Think about. When you remember back to your own childhood years, Aren’t some of your best memories the simple ones? The ones where you were creative from boredom? Chances are that’s a yes.
Many of the activities that we think would make our kid’s childhoods magical, aren’t. Because simplicity is the way to go, always!
What can you do this summer with the ‘I’m bored’ cries? Start with this.
- Set aside one day a week for an activity detox. That means no structured activities.
- Task them with creativity. (Check out ‘The Ultimate I’m bored items list’ to have around the house. Listed below).
- Limit the teach toys.
- Send them outdoors (and go out with them). If you don’t live in a location where your child can venture outside alone. Then take them to a park, let them run wild. Try not to jump in, instead just sit and watch them. If you have a backyard, let them have fun back there while you enjoy a cup of tea inside, or on the patio.
- Be a good role model. Our kids mirror what we do. So, if you find yourself grabbing for your phone every chance you get. That’s going to be what they want to do. Try to avoid that. Instead let them see you reading, writing, drawing, and creating. When they see you being creative, it encourages them to do the same.
Try this 'I'm Bored Checklist', next time your kids want screen time. Once they start going through the listed items, they might just find their own source of entertainment through the beauty of being creative and using their imagination
Check out The Ultimate I’m Bored Items List! And, try to keep a steady supply of these items.
For some fun lessons to help keep your kids entertained this summer. Check out the Schoolio Special Interest Units