“There’s nothing to do!” How many times have we heard that from a child or said it as a child!? It’s a common complaint usually heard more often during the long stretches of unplanned time that comes with summer.
When I was growing up, when my sisters or I said we were bored, I still remember my mother’s response. “People who say they’re bored are boring.” Mom was a wonderful, loving, fun woman, but she did not suffer our foolishness. Her message to us was that with all our tangible and intangible resources (creativity, imagination, energy, safety, nature, toys, etc.) there was no reason for us to be bored. And she was right a few minutes of lackadaisical questions back and forth between my sister and me. “What do you want to do?” “I don’t know. What do YOU want to do?” Sometimes it just started with us lying “bored” in the grass staring at clouds or up through the leaves. One thing would lead to another. A conversation would start. A challenge would be made or an idea expressed. And we’d be occupied for hours with some project or game.
One of my family’s fun memories was born out of boredom. It was a multi-family neighborhood summer picnic. Most of us kids were in our teens and early 20’s. There was definitely a lull in the activity. Someone picked up a beach ball and tossed it over the badminton net. Someone else picked it up and batted it back over the net. Someone else mentioned the volleyball scene in the movie “Top Gun.” Next thing you know we all were assigned nicknames (some Top Gun-themed, some not) that we remember to this day! Many ridiculous rules were agreed upon (like “random side switch!” or “Dr. Mesmer ball spin!”), and we played into the darkness that evening, laughing until our stomachs hurt. That was the summer that Estee Ball (named for the free with purchase Estee Lauder beachball!) was born. It was game born out of boredom (!) and played for years to come at family picnics!
It may take some patience and the ability to tune out some whining. Give your children a chance to be “bored.” Don’t step in. They’ve got boundless imagination and energy to tap into. You may be surprised by the results.
Here are a few pieces about boredom and children:
This one is a little more in-depth about boredom, not just in children, and connections with mindfulness:
Have a boring weekend!