“We are bored Mum!” is a statement with which I am very familiar. It is also a statement to which my response has always been “and?!”
It is not a problem for me if my children are bored. In fact, I actively encourage a bit of boredom here and there.
You see, for me, being bored is a rite of passage through childhood, an art form to learn and quite frankly a necessary part of life. I can tell you for certain that I was often bored throughout my own childhood and it did me no harm. I was always expected to sit and wait nicely for my dinner to arrive if we ate out at restaurants – there were no colouring pencils, iPads or parks to play in. I was always expected to just “go and play” without further direction or assistance. My sisters and I found this to be the norm and as such made our own entertainment; grinding up plants and flowers to make perfume, roller skating down the hill (the only freedom we were allowed!), making up plays and then acting them out for our parents, reading actual books, sometimes just sitting quietly and thinking how god damn bored I was. Not only did those times of boredom do me no harm but I would actually argue that they were character building and important.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not some Miss Hanson-like figure who locks myself away in the cupboard with my bottle of gin whilst my brood of children run amok amidst a plague of boredom. I like a good day out with the kids (lies) as much as anyone and I spend time each day playing, building toy towers and pretending that the pack of sponges under the sink are actually tickets for an imaginary train I must get on. And off. Repeatedly. But I also am completely unsympathetic to the cries of “I’m bored!” once these things have been done or if I have other things to be getting on with.
I have a feeling this is going to be an unpopular opinion amongst the parenting community because if you were to casually open Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest and search for kids activities, you would find a plethora of video’s, social media posts and blogs all disagreeing with me and showing you 101 ways to “keep your children entertained this summer”.
But why I’d like to know? What is so heinous and unacceptable about being bored? What awful things do parents think will happen if boredom sets in for a little while?
I think the argument in favour of boredom goes further than a casual lack of parenting and I’d even go so far as to say there are genuine benefits to boredom. For example, I really believe that being bored nurtures and fosters imagination like nothing else. It allows a child time and space to think for themselves, to dream, to be silly, to use their imagination to create play and opportunities (maybe hide the glue and paints at this point) without constant direction from an adult.
Being bored also has another advantage amidst all of the youth-centricity that we are now living in because it happily teaches the valuable life lesson that a child is not always the centre of the universe. That might sound harsh but if a person grows up thinking they must always be centre of attention and that their needs must always come first and appropriate entertainment must always be provided then what sort of adult will that person become? You know the answer to that.
So the benefits of boredom this summer are three fold:
- You get time to do the things you need to do guilt FREE thank you very much.
- Your child will get time to actually use their imagination and exercise a modicum of resilience
- You will be teaching your child a valuable life lesson about co-existing pleasantly with other people – ie. it ain’t all about you all of the time.
With that said, I will caveat by saying that of course we do have a lovely summer planned here at Casa del Chaos, with a few nice day trips and a camping trip with the fam on the horizon but I for one, will also be welcoming the inevitable cries of “I’m bored!” with a shrug of the shoulders and a nice, ice cold G&T. And I suggest for your sanity you do the same.
Happy summer holidays folks