Anyone who is acquainted with me knows I come up with a lot of crafts and activities to keep my kids busy. Yet, I don’t entertain my children all day. Nor do I spend my time carting them from one structured activity to the next. And, sometimes, when my daughter comes up to me and says I’m bored, I think good and I say, “Well, be creative and find something to do.” I spend enough time reading, playing and creating projects for my kids. However, I also realize I’m not going to be “on” for the 12- 14 hours that I’m often taking care of my kids each day. I’m also not going to spend a bunch of money entertaining my kids because…being bored can be a good thing. Here are a few reasons why.
I watch my kids. I enjoy a good game of tag. However, sometimes I like watching without participating. Kids don’t need an adult hovering over them every second of the day. While my young children still need plenty of supervision, I find great enjoyment watching my kids interact from the “sidelines.”
Let Your Imagination Run Wild
When kids are not watching television, playing video games or being entertained, they have to think. These are great ways to get those creative juices flowing. As a child, I used to play with blocks. I used to look through catalogs and make up stories about the people inside. Currently, my daughter is on a mission to look for rolly pollies and examine other insects. My son has taken to playing with water using cups and spray bottles. I doubt they would ever do these things if I didn’t give them the time to be “bored.”
Unstructured Play Time
Sometimes, I feel like my kids are the only ones who don’t have multiple extracurricular activities going on at once. My kids have done swimming lessons, ballet, ‘mommy and me’ gym class and soccer. This summer my daughter will be doing Vacation Bible School for the first time. I’m not against camps or extracurricular activities. In fact, I think it’s beneficial for kids to be involved in sports, music and other activities. However, when kids are carted from one structured activity to the next, it doesn’t leave them any time for unstructured play.
Open Ended Activities
When your child says they are bored, this doesn’t mean you should ignore them. Rather, give them some tools to help foster their creativity. For instance, I have a craft box that has paint, crayons, stickers and some other odds and ends. My daughter has a spiral notebook that she writes in several times a week. A few years ago, we gave away almost all of our battery operated toys in exchange for blocks, arts and crafts supplies and other opened ended activities. After all, open ended activities can help spark your child’s imagination.
Allowing your child to be bored, sometimes, helps foster independence. In other words, if the caregiver isn’t always entertaining the kids, the children will have to come up with activities on their own. I think this will help them be more independent when they get older.
I’m not planning on throwing away my television or tablet anytime soon. I’m also planning to sign my daughter up for ballet and do story time at the local bookstore this summer. Even though I have plenty of outings and boredom busting activities planned, I imagine sometime this summer my kids will say “I’m bored.” Sometimes, I will guide them in the direction of a craft or open-ended activity. Other times, I plan to say, It’s okay to be bored. Use your imagination and think of something fun to do! Just remember, the key is to let your kids be bored sometimes, not all the time.
More from Melissa:
How to Stop Being a Whiny Parent
A Survival Guide for Parents in the Suburbs
4 Reasons to Stop Nagging Your Kids