Ahh, colder days. Winter is coming. More inside time for your kids. Raise your hand if that realization comes with a little trepidation!
It’s Okay for Kid’s to be Bored!
It’s actually MORE THAN OKAY to let your kids be bored. Boredom is a gift to children’s imagination, to their mental health, and to the relationships they are building. This makes sense to us once we hear it and we can’t deny we want those advantages for our children. BUT! We never the less fight against their boredom, constantly wanting them to be “happy”, which in our minds means entertained and NOT bored. Let’s do our best this winter and beyond to remember that happy and bored can go hand in hand. Let’s allow time to let the boredom moments creep in, STAY, and work their way out, with much gained in the process.
Yes, It’s Against our Adult Nature
Our go-go-go mentality to use every moment efficiently has trained us against accepting moments of boredom. In fact, as I was writing this, I was put to the test. From the basement, where my two elementary school kids plus their three friends were happily engaged in imagination games for over an hour, I heard a pause in activity and literally heard one say “I’m bored”.
My immediate reaction was to run to them and give another great idea, because I have so many great ideas! (Fear not, I’m here to save you!) Then another tangible reaction came to my brain. I can’t have anyone feeling unhappy in my house… that’s a reflection on my good home. Those other children are here to have FUN… all these thoughts entered so quickly. Then I paused, realized the nonsense of it all, and instead of running to the kids, I sat there and listened. They definitely faltered for a moment in that precious boredom. Their movements paused, their voices slowed. This must’ve therefore allowed for some rest breaths, and for a little mental break from the ‘work’ of imagination and interaction, which I’m sure is all healthy. Some ideas were then given, there was some criticism of said ideas, (again, I told myself to stay away and to let them resolve conflict!) and soon enough, they were onto the next idea. And it was a grand idea. It was quite cool to witness (especially as I was writing on the very topic!).
Yes, it’s okay to be bored. Let it happen. I believe in our area, we have an even harder job maintaining empty time for kids – the pressure to have our kids engaged in some camp, class, or program in every waking moment is very strong. Living in these fast-paced areas, we all the more need to remember to let them be kids, and kids want to PLAY.
I’m Talking Unstructured Play
Unstructured play is kids’ favorite pastime. They crave it, they love it. It’s an essential element of their brain development from 18 months through childhood. We have long since passed that developmental stage, which is why we cringe when they want us to join in random imagination scenes. But the kids need it. They will be better students and better participants in the few activities or sports they ARE involved in if they have plenty of unstructured play time otherwise. Just like they will perform better when they have a full belly. Unstructured play can be alone or with siblings or friends. Schedule it in if that suits your personality. Don’t worry about where it happens – at home, at the park, in your neighbor’s backyard, on your weekend adventure, at grandma’s. Just make sure it happens.
Childhood is their time to imagine and to play, and YES, be bored now and then in that mix. Screens and over planned activities both deny them that time. Give it back to them. Watch those imaginations fly. And – witness the joy you and they both feel as it gets easier over time for them to self-entertain.
Self-entertainment is an amazing gift we can give not only our kids, but also us ourselves. More free time from them! In fact, try your best to indulge in some boredom one afternoon while they’re playing – it’s good for adults too! You may very well relish it tremendously.