Ah, it’s summertime and the living is…easy? Not for the average mom who feels obligated to drive her kids to endless camps and classes as well as coming up with a cruise director-worthy daily activity list, lest her children feel bored.
Hey Mom, guess what? It’s good for your kids to get bored. In fact, boredom leads to creativity and productivity. When children experience boredom, their brains are yearning for neural stimulation. Eventually, their bored minds will daydream, create, and produce ideas. Yes, some of their ideas will be questionable, like when my kids found a dead duck in our creek, used a shovel to load it into their red wagon, and then produced the idea of going door-to-door in our neighborhood trying to sell it to someone for dinner.
But if we put aside concerns about salmonella, aren’t you just a tiny bit impressed with their ingenuity? Only a truly bored mind that is searching for something to do could produce such a fowl idea (sorry, I couldn’t resist).
Boredom is not a bad thing, it’s a necessary thing. Our kids have to be forced to go into their heads for ideas, but when they do, they may surprise themselves with the interesting stuff they come up with. Somehow, we’ve adopted this myth that kids being bored is a terrible situation to avoid at all costs. They moan “Mom, I’m bored,” and we moms feel pressured like this is our problem to fix and guilty like we aren’t doing enough to make their summer interesting.
Your children’s boredom is not your problem. It is an opportunity for your children to go into their own head, turn on their problem-solving brain, rev up their imagination, and learn to entertain themselves without a screen or an adult feeding them ideas. These are critical life skills which your kids will need to succeed in life, and boredom will develop those skills in ways that a jam-packed summer schedule or non-stop screens cannot.
So, get off the we-have-to-do-something-fun-or-educational-every-day train. It’s headed to Crazy Town. You really don’t have to keep your kids occupied every moment of the day. And you really can, and should, turn off the screens so your kids will be forced to turn on their minds.
Here are responses you can use when your kids say “Mom, I’m bored!”
- “Here’s a dust rag. Go dust the living room.”
- “Only boring people get bored. Figure out something to do.” (This was my mom’s favorite response and led to me and the neighborhood kids reenacting in our basement entire episodes of Battlestar Galactica, as well as creating haunted houses, skateboarding demonstrations, and a gerbil show that didn’t end well.)
- “You are responsible for making your own fun. Go find something to do.” (This sounds like something a psychologist would say, doesn’t it?)
What suggestions do you have for what to say when we hear “Mom, I’m bored?”