Summer is here, school is out, and you are about to hear the endless onslaught of “But, Mom….I’m bored!” It is so tempting to think we need to fill every moment of the summer with fun activities and events. We read the endless blogs about how there are only 18 summers to spend with your kids, and the plethora of advice on how to keep your kids busy in the summer, because we are conditioned to think boredom is bad. But before we rush into summer camp registrations and buying summer gear, let us consider the benefits of boredom.
In a world that is inundated with instant gratification and our dopamine receptors dependent on technology for their “fix,” summer is a great time for our kids (and even us) to SLOW down and participate in the real world. Sure summer camps are great, a vacation is a welcome reprieve from reality and creates lasting memories for a family. BUT, boredom may also have a valid place in your child’s summer agenda.
Our kids are told what to do all day long by teachers, then by parents; almost every moment of their day is planned for them, and they rarely get to make decisions for themselves.
Boredom is a great tool that allows kids to find ways to entertain themselves.
We will do an obligatory summer camp, we will have some fun days at the pool and play dates with friends, and hopefully a summer vacay. However, not every day of our summer is planned. For one, my husband and I both work, so who has time for that? What we do have time for is for our son to fill his own time! Here is what I mean, and yes, HE WILL BE BORED. But that is his problem to solve.
I will certainly give him tools for this problem. As parents we can say, “ok, I know you are bored, just find something to do!” …as we try to shoo them away. As a teacher, we often create assignments we call “choice boards.” This is something I have transferred into our home life and it is a great tool! Giving kids options they can readily read and see is essential. This gives them ideas on hand, but can also inspire ideas of their own.
I created a list that looks something like this:
He will come to me with the whiny voice I love to hate, “but, Mom….I’m BORED!” And I will point to this handy dandy sign and remind him he can solve the boredom problem on his own using these choices, or another choice he may discover on his own. He will whine and cry often, I am sure, because that is what he does when he doesn’t get what he wants (and let’s face it: he wants technology or a friend to play with). He will continue to whine and complain while he goes through the list and hates each thing until ultimately he decides on something or creates his own fun that is not on the list, BUT he will eventually come around and forget he hates me and get lost in his own world, where HE was the solver of his own boredom problem.
These moments of boredom are not easy to deal with as a parent because the incessant whining is grating and can make the most sane person break. It is much easier to say, sure go watch tv! And I am sure I will give in sometimes. However, staying strong is worth it. Letting our kids be bored allows them to find solutions to their problems, not rely on someone planning every moment of their day, encourages creativity and critical thinking, and reduces dependency on technology as a time filler or source of entertainment. For more ideas beyond the list I created, check out this link to read more about the benefits of boredom.
Though boredom has benefits, there is nothing wrong with some planned fun also! Check out this list of summer camps in the area to provide a little spark in your child’s BORING summer, and maybe to give you a well deserved break!
But don’t forget, it’s ok if you don’t have every minute of summer planned in a Pinterest worthy manner. When that guilt creeps in, just remember there are benefits to boredom!