Most of us can assume at least a little guilt in over-scheduling our kids. The options for after school activities are staggering and really, quite tempting. All parents have good intentions of exposing their children to all sorts of fun activities and we often break our backs and our bank account in the process. In my last post, I talked a bit about boredom and how it works for our family, but I am so intrigued by this topic that I have to say more: I am just so astounded at the benefits of boredom.
Even though I opted out of the activity frenzy awhile ago, as my boys get older I feel the business creeping back into our schedule. So, I wanted to step back and revisit the benefits of boredom, and focus on becoming more intentional about our time. I know I need time to be quiet, to sit and think, to have time to just BE. Little did I know boredom has such great benefits for my children.
The benefits of boredom
Boredom engages creativity in a world where so much is already planned for our children. Most kids are more often consumers than producers –they play video games made by someone else, attend classes that tell them exactly what to create and listen to coaches tell them how to move or play. Many children have little opportunity to get their creative juices flowing. Being bored leads to daydreaming and exploring new avenues. Kids become the creator of their experiences.
Studies actually show that screen time does nothing to foster a child’s creativity, in fact it stiffles it. But, when kids are bored(and devices are not an option) they can engage their creativity and build those divergent thinking skills which are so important for future success.
Boredom allows kids to listen to their inner being and decide what makes them tick. Seldom do we find kids without something or someone to entertain them. Many kids do not have a moment to themselves, being numbed by a screen during most of their waking free- time. Boredom quiets the buzz of screens and allows children to just sit and daydream.
Boredom builds self-reliant children. When children have to sit in their boredom, they take responsibility for themselves and their choices. They think about what motivates them, what makes them tick. If left to their own devices, children persevere until they find something that interests them.
Boredom is amazing to watch. I guarantee that you will see wonderful things happen when you let kids sit in their boredom. Forts will be built, make-believe will happen, games will be invented, conversations will be started. Your kids will display their true gifts and talents.
Okay, I get it. But where do I start?
As usual, my advice is, start with what feels right for your family. Step back and look at how your children are already spending their time. Then be intentional about what you plan–and don’t– plan for the future.
Chose your child’s activities wisely. There are many benefits to organized and group activities. But,too much is too much. Stick to your child’s favorites so they have time to explore on their own.
Do an experiment. Choose an afternoon and plan nothing. Put the devices away and see what happens. You may have to put up with some whining, but they will figure it out.
If you already incorporate some free, unstructured play into your families life, try more! Try a whole week without screens and minimally planned activities.
Invite a friend to join in on the fun. I love to see what a group of kids comes up when left to their own devices. They, quite possibly, will ask for more!
Here are a few more suggestions to get you started. and keep you inspired to bring boredom into your family’s life.
- Visit a park and sit on the bench with a book–your kids can figure out what to do.
- Maybe choose one day a week to be unplanned and screen free. Let your kids figure out the rest. If the whining starts, you simply answer with, “I know you will figure out something to do!”
- Have some supplies at the ready–paper, markers, colored pencils, scissors, glue, cardboard boxes, etc. for your child to create at will.
- Make sure board games and all those other things they don’t play with anymore are easily accessible. They may develop a renewed interest in that rarely used Christmas gift they had to have.
I LOVE BORED. It is amazing to watch, really. I guarantee that you will see wonderful things happen when you let kids sit in their boredom. Forts will be built, make-believe will happen, games will be invented, and meaningful conversations will be started. Let me know what happens–I’d love to hear your story.
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As always, thanks for taking the time to read this!