It’s been on my mind so much lately because it’s summer, and almost every day, you see an article here or there entitled “Fun Things to Keep Kids From Being Bored”, or “Best Boredom Busters for Kids”.
And while I have no problem with providing my children with constructive activities to keep their brains stimulated in the long summer days, I DO have a problem when it becomes my job to entertain my children.
It’s not my job to entertain my kids. Is it important to have fun with them? For them to laugh, smile, enjoy life? Absolutely! Of course!
But provide activities every moment of every day to make sure they (and their visiting friends) never have a dull moment?? Over-rated. Absurd.
Before you throw down a blanket statement or comment declaring I’m mean or a fuddy-duddy, let me explain why I feel this way.
You’ve all read the article circulating about growing up in the 80s, I’m sure. And my opinion is pretty similar.
Consider the Opportunities
Benefits of allowing kids to have an unstructured, program-less day are endless. Consider that giving them the day for free play, for roaming about outside, for building forts (inside or out), climbing trees, curling up with a book, playing for hours with dolls or cars, or making up “pretend games” with their siblings is how they’re wired. They’re doing what kids are supposed to do. They’re being creative! They’re exercising something, that’s for sure, whether that be their legs on rollerblades or bikes, or their imagination as they learn to write scripts and act them out.
I don’t remember saying I was bored too often when I was little. Free time was an open slate for fun, for exploring, for digging, climbing, somersaulting, playing kickball, skating, or playing with my dolls. Has it become a lost art? Have we, as parents, assumed a position of guilt and therefore responsibility in response to our children’s complaint of boredom?
Today, if my children say they are bored, they have some options. If creative play is not their choice, the other is productivity. If they’re bored and turn down a book, a bike, or a brother’s companionship, they can choose a chore. Mean? No way. It only takes a few times of responding to a child’s grumble of boredom with a chore chart to remind them that they have plenty of other things to do.
The bottom line here?
When my children come over to your house, I don’t want them to sit down on your couch and look at you wondering when you’re going to get up and take them to the movies or to the pool or shopping or to wherever. I want them equipped to roll with the rhythm of your family whatever the activity (or lack thereof) that’s going on in your home at the time. I want them to be content with right now, and if not, to explore and find something creative or productive to do.
Otherwise, if I consider my job as my kids’ mom to be their entertainer, I’ve done them a disservice when they grow up entitled and expect everyone to always cater to them and make sure their lives/jobs/families always have fun. Is that a realistic expectation to set up for our kids? I don’t think so.
The Solution to Boredom
The solution is simple. By all means, yes, have fun and enjoy your kids and your family. Laugh together, do fun things together. But allow freedom from schedule. Allow free time (still under your supervision) and exploring. Refuse the notion of boredom and teach that that idea is a signal for someone to use their time creatively or productively.