Have you heard those dreaded words of “I’m bored” escape your kids’ mouths yet this summer? As a kid, I remember how much I looked forward to summer. When that last day of school let out for the year, there was such a feeling of freedom!
It didn’t take long, however, before my brother and I were bored. We would watch Brady Bunch and Gilligan’s Island reruns until we were blue in the face. We would whine and complain to our mom about how there was nothing to do. It wouldn’t take long before my mom would turn us outside for the day to come up with something to do on our own.
That’s when the magic happened.
We would sit in the yard for awhile and think. Then, inspiration would hit and we’d come up with stuff to do. We used to ride our bikes to the pond near our house and try to skip rocks. We would sit on our skateboards and race down a nearby hill. We would play hours of cops & robbers with my brother’s cap guns. We could climb on top of our rickety metal swing set and pretend that sharks were trying to jump up and snap at our dangling legs. We built many a fort in the nearby woods with other neighborhood kids.
When we were kids, our summers weren’t filled up with play dates or camps or extracurricular activities. My mom didn’t drive us to friend’s houses or movies or to the mall. In fact, there were several years when our family only had one car so we were stuck at home all day long for the vast majority of the summer.
We stayed at home and ran around the neighborhood looking for stuff to do. We only came home when our stomachs were achingly empty or when the dimming light let us know that it was time for supper.
Summers aren’t like this anymore.
My boys, and probably yours, are being flooded with a myriad of possible activities. They are attending film camps, church camps, drama camps, and grandpa camps. We are heading to friends’ houses and reconnecting with extended family. We have family reunions and family camping trips to attend.
There is value in letting our kids be bored sometimes.
Being bored can be the catalyst for waking up their imaginations. Being bored can propel them to discover new things about themselves that they would never have known otherwise. Being bored can be a blessing!
Here are 4 Ways to Give Your Kids the Blessing of Boredom:
1. Stay Home Sometimes
Believe it or not, sometimes staying home actually needs to be scheduled onto our calendars. When my husband and I were first married, we found ourselves having commitments every weekend of the summer. So, the next year, we scheduled in some D&M (Dennis and Michelle) weekends before summer ever began. That way, we could legitimately say that we already had something planned if we were asked to do something that weekend.
2. Turn off Electronic Devices
Most boys LOVE their electronic devices. While having some time on the screens isn’t bad, it’s easy for this to get out of control on long, summer days. Be sure to give your kids certain times throughout the day when they aren’t able to use their devices. This will allow them to “get bored” and find something more productive to do.
There’s nothing like facing a few hours outside with “nothing” to do to activate our kids’ imaginations. This time is more likely to be successful if you provide the kids with some tools especially if unstructured time outside is new to your kids. Nerf swords, slip and slides, bikes, basketballs, etc are all fairly inexpensive and will give kids something to do while they are thinking After your kids get used to this time outside, they’ll be able to use dirt, sticks, and even bugs to come up with their own entertainment.
4. Don’t tell your kids what to do
The key to boredom being a blessing is that your kids need to figure out what to do on their own. Telling them what to do defeats the purpose. We want this to be a time when their brains will light up and they will come fully alive. Initially, it can take some time for them to come up with stuff to do on their own. As they get used to it, however, they will be able to think of stuff quickly and entertaining themselves will become second nature.
This summer, as possible activities are presented to your family, try to keep in mind the blessings associated with boredom. Find the balance between having a structured and an unstructured summer. Although they may not realize it right away, someday your kids will look back and thank you for giving them such a valuable gift.
Question: Do you see boredom as a blessing? Are your kids ever bored or are they too busy to feel that emotion? Do you think boredom can be beneficial? Please leave a comment below.