The Gift of Bordem
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“Mom, I’m bored!”
Do these words just sent you off? To me there is nothing worse than my kids whining about being bored.
We are about half a month into our summer vacation, the kids don’t go back to school until the first week of September. The second day of our summer holidays the “I’m bored” started. Oh I nearly lost it. But after watching the kids, and talking with friends I realized that there was a reason the kids thought they were bored.
Structure and Directed Play
You see Wander and Flora both attend school. It is a normal part of pretty much most childhoods. I’m not a home school mom (at least not yet, as much as many try to convince me otherwise), and so going to school takes up a large part of the kids’ day and a very large part of our year. The school bell rings at 8:55 and lets out at 3:15. Much of their day is set by a very structured schedule. They have never really had to depend on themselves for something to do.
As each minute passed and the kids were complaining more and more loudly, I just kept telling them to play. And that’s when it hit me, they don’t really know how to play. I mean the kids will with their toys but often it is because a parent, grandparent or friend as directed them in that direction. It has almost always been some sort of directed play.
Creativity in the Outdoors
I needed to take an active roll to change this “I’m bored” mentality. I want my kids to grow up to be self sufficient, as parents do. However, I realized that the life filled with constant activities, directed play and various other commitments wasn’t doing them any favours. I decided to take action. We finished our “scheduled activities” for the summer. These are the activities where their every moment was scheduled, must like school. We had two weeks of Vacation Bible School (because Husband was in charge of one of those weeks). I have not pursued any other directed play or day camp like activities. Instead, we have turned to a life lived mostly entirely outside in our backyard. At first the time outside was a huge struggle for Flora, and at times it still is but she is adjusting.
There is just something about the outside air (and possibly the lack of comfortable couches and screens) that seems to foster their creativity. I’ve watched them go on high seas adventures, they have built secret bad guy lairs, they have been hungry explorers searching for food and the list goes on. Their creativity seems to know no bounds outside. Inside, well that’s still the struggle. But they are learning. No longer am I the constant source of things for them to do.
Boredom’s Place in the Simple Life
While boredom seems to be the cataclysmically worst possible thing to ever happen to a child, it has a place. I know for myself it is often in the moments of perceived boredom I feel compelled to learn a new skill, pick up a book in a genre I have never considered, or even just move my body more. It is in these moments our creativity is sparked, we add life and joy back in to our mundane every day.
Boredom has caused us to carefully examine what things we have in the house. Are they objects or toys that foster creativity or is their soul purpose to direct play. As a result we have significantly pared down the number of toys we have in the house. The ones we have kept help to foster the kids’ sense of wonder, creativity and awareness skills. Boredom has its place in simplifying and streamlining your life. Often it can even be the catalyst you need to make the change!
“But I’m still Bored!”
These are still words we hear periodically in our house. However, I now have better coping mechanisms and while I still may feel like crawling out of my skin, I hav
e learned to direct them to themselves to find something to do.
I’ve been reading this really amazing book called “There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather” by Linda McGurk. I highly recommend every parent read it. In it she has an entire section on boredom and creativity. I absolutely loved her suggestion of what to say to kids complaining about nothing to do.
“When your child comes to you and says he’s so “booored’ give him a hug and tell him, ‘Good luck, my friend! I look forward to seeing what you get up to.'”
I’m sure by the end of the summer my kids will have everything well in hand, but until then I will continue to say to them, Good luck my friend!