I have a confession to make: I like it when my kids are bored. There! I said it and I don’t feel guilty! Now, let me explain.
I do not worry that every weekend is bursting with plans or jam-packed schedules just to keep my boys entertained. We don’t have a heck-it’s the-weekend unlimited TV or IPad rule. I do not arrange play-dates far in advance, just because I know we have an upcoming Saturday with nothing to do! Some weekends are very busy, but others are not, and we enjoy it that way.
Of course, we may do things with the boys around the house… We create together, dad builds Legos with them, we play games, but we do things without them too. Dad and I like lying down to read or rest after lunch. We cook, we organize stuff, and we allow ourselves to do other things that don’t necessarily revolve around our school-aged children.
Since our 5 and 7 year old were very young, we have encouraged them play on their own, distract themselves, without the need of permanent adult supervision or company. Screens have never been the default option. It isn’t that my boys don’t ever watch TV; they do, but they don’t depend on it as their form of entertainment. We do not own a video game system. And we have just one family IPad, a really old version that the boys share on Saturday and Sunday mornings for about half an hour after they wake up and wait for us to gather the energy to get out of bed and make breakfast.
When my kids tell me they’re bored, which isn’t very often, I mention all the amazing things they have in their room: Legos, Magnatiles, paints, markers, games, blocks, etc. It’s a little reality check I throw in there every so often to remind them how lucky and blessed they are.
BOREDOM; I love the sound of it and I have seen wonders come from boredom. And that’s why I want to encourage you to let your kids get bored. Don’t go out of your way making busy schedules for them; on the other hand, embrace the quiet weekends. Keep in mind you are not their full time entertainer and they have to learn to deal with silence, with activity-free days, with staying home every now and then with absolutely nothing to do. There’s nothing wrong with that.
On the contrary, you will see that they will have to be more creative as they find ways to keep themselves entertained without involving a screen. They will come up with fresh ideas and new games. They will play outside, they might get dirty (Pray they do!), and they might make a big mess (Just breathe!). They will be kids, just like we were.
Encourage the creativity that boredom can bring by letting them ride in the car with no screen, keeping on hand a few sketchbooks and crayons (“paint by sticker” books is a favorite in our car; you can find these on Amazon). Let them go shopping with you without bringing mobile devices; involve them in the process, ask their opinion, talk to them about what you are getting. Let them wait in lines or at doctor’s appointments with just a white paper pad and markers or maybe a few books. Teach them there’s nothing wrong with the silence. It is important for them to learn patience. It is important for them to learn to distract themselves, to be on their own. Teach them they have everything they need in order to be happy and complete.
I know this can all be challenging at times, and giving in is sometimes the easiest way out, but be strong. I struggle with this myself every day. But remember, persist and prevail. You will not regret it. There will be great days and there will be others not so great. But I promise the most amazing creative ideas come out from those moments of silence and boredom. I see it in my children all the time and I’m sure you will see it in yours too.