bored

July 7, 2011 |  Category:   life parenting

Can’t tell you how many times I hear this word in a day. I usually reply with a few suggestions (that usually get shot down), but sometimes when I feel really exasperated I might say, “only boring people get bored” (god, wouldn’t you hate it if your mom kept saying that to you?). The girls have been out of school for almost 2 weeks now and while we’ve managed to schedule a lot of outings and activities since then, I can’t do it everyday. I just can’t. I’m not afraid to admit that I’m a homebody at heart, but this is hard to be when you have kids. I need quiet and alone time for my sanity and sometimes I just need to stay home for awhile. Sounds selfish as a parent, but trust me, it’s not. It’s really hard to be “on” all the time. I’m not Julie, the Cruise Director, not even close. While I do believe that kids need activity and stimulation, I don’t believe that it needs to be constant. I think my generation of parents feel like they need to schedule activities for their kids everyday, but where does this come from? When we were kids growing up, we didn’t really do much. We sometimes went to camp and we watched a lot of TV. I’m not even sure who babysat us during the day in the summers after my grandmother moved out because I don’t remember. Different times.

My girls are pretty good at entertaining themselves by reading and playing and they aren’t the type of kids who bounce off the walls and need to be outdoors all day, but when I hear the word “bored” not even 10 minutes since the last time they complained they were bored, I just have to remember that I was once a kid too. A kid who at times felt bored during summer vacations because the days felt impossibly long. A kid who draped herself listlessly on the couch because there was “nothing” else to do. I guess times really aren’t that different.

(btw, that isn’t our house, in case you were wondering. You can get bored in other places too, apparently).

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  • Susan July 7, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    I’m a homebody too, and I have wondered how that will play out as a parent. I was an only child, and somehow I was never bored…but then again, I also had some imaginary friends. 😉

  • Ana July 7, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    That’s exactly how my girl look right about now.

  • Vanessa Rae July 7, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    As a stay-at-home mom I struggle with this… a lot. I try to get out-and-about at least every other day but with two little ones under the age of four these outings consist of the park, library, etc. I just bought two activity books to implement when the summer is over but that’s about two hours worth of hands-on activity and then an hour of reading together. Is is bad that three hours planned activity is about all that I can muster?! Looking back, do you appreciate the time you had with the girls before they started school? Was is hard for you to feel like you always had to be “on”? I watched a lot of tv as a kid and played by myself a lot. These days it seems like that’s considered child neglect. Nothing in ever permanent. Thanks for sharing.

  • Renita July 7, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    My mother would suggest that I ‘clean the house’ when I was bored … that shut me up and I would settle down somehow.

  • adornedlife July 7, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    i laughed out loud at “julie, the cruise director”…amen!

  • snowhill July 7, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    hahaha….
    Whenever my kids complain like that, I always say ” ENJOY YOUR BORED MOMENT~”
    I always see your website. I love it. So I;m not bored.
    anyway, my english is not good. sorry… but I’m your fan~

  • gail July 7, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    Boredom is the fairy godmother of creativity.

  • Laura July 7, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    My youngest liked to make a list of things that she could do in the day: read, bike ride, write a story, make the bed, play a board game, draw a picture, make playdough, do chores; and then she would check the things off the list as she did them. Now that the kids are older, they stay home by themselves when I’m at work. They have a couple of chores to do while I’m gone, and the oldest one usually bakes something.

  • lilcg July 7, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    it is funny, but I don’t remember being bored that often. I don’t know if it is an only child thing, but I was usually able to come up with something to do–even if it was just to reread my favorite books. my daughter, also an only child, is only two, so she might start to get bored soon, but so far she seems happy to play quietly by herself. she’ll wander off and I’ll find her sitting in her comfy chair with a pile of books nearby.

    when my cousins and their kids came to visit for spring break she actually had kid overload and missed her alone time. she kept trying to hide with some books or puzzles, but they thought she was playing hide and seek and would track her down!

    we do play together a lot and she does go to school and has a lot of friends, but sometimes she wants alone time.

  • oilandgarlic July 7, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    I think it’s okay, great even, to let kids get bored. They’ll find things to do — parents should let them be creative more often instead of trying to be activity directors.

  • Meghann July 7, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    This is a new one in our house hold. My almost-four-year-old has taken to the same complaint. I agree with you about children not needing constant entertainment. i think its good for their brain, imagination and independence.
    But sometimes I come down on myself and feel bad for not playing with her more. But then I read this and it lightens my mood and makes me feel a little better. Thanks, friend.

  • Lecia July 7, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    My mother always said, ‘if you’re bored, I’ll give you something to do’ (ie chores) and we were always able to find something to do, miraculously, to snap us out of our boredom. I use the same line on Abbott and Cal, and it works on them, too.

    Lots of ‘research’ indicates that kids need time to get bored; that it inspires creativity and all sorts of other things. I agree. Our garage has become a sort of ‘laboratory’ as a result of some boredom.

  • tina July 7, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    When I was young and living in the city, I was outside all day until I got called for dinner. Good times.

  • Dinah Claire July 7, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    I can’t get over that little haircut – ever.

  • Rachel at Eat and Write July 7, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    I think it’s totally awesome/acceptable that you have your homebody days. I agree that sometimes parents overschedule kids. Though I don’t have kids yet, the kind of parent I want to be is one that is, well, still Rachel only with kids. I know kids make life complicated, but I don’t want to be one of those people who have children and suddenly every single thing they do is about their kids — I think that would drive me insane! And I don’t think it’s selfish to want a life that isn’t about pleasing your children 24/7, because I don’t consider that what parenting is about.

    As far as the “boredom,” I recently read that the older we get the more our perception of time shifts so that we believe time is going by faster. So it seems likely that us adults feel bored less, because we feel like time is going so fast (and there’s so much to do)!

  • Kathy July 7, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    I recently came across your blog and just had to comment on how refreshingly honest and lovely it is. 🙂

  • joanna goddard July 7, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    love this. i remember telling my mom that i was bored, and she would suggest things for me to do, and if i said it again, i remember (to this day!) how she would look at me like i was just really unimaginative. in the end, i always came up with something 🙂 (i remember once lying between our sofa and the wall for a really long time, haha! kids are so weird/awesome:)

  • Ez July 8, 2011 at 12:43 am

    Oh my goodness, I sooooo hear you on this one Jena. Being a total homebody myself, I’ve always struggled with balancing my need for sanity and my daughter’s need to blow off some steam doing kiddish things. It’s refreshing to know I’m not alone. Thanks for always being so honest and lovely. xo Ez

  • unha July 8, 2011 at 12:50 am

    haha. you know, i believe being bored is a wonderful segway into being creative.
    yeah, all these scheduled activities for kids all week long are crazy!

  • Stéphanie July 8, 2011 at 5:50 am

    Get a big big big box in cardboard (?carton in french). make your self a hole for the door and little holes for the windows and tell them it’s a castle and that they have to customize it with glue and paper or with pencils, ….
    Fun for days….

  • Janine July 8, 2011 at 6:12 am

    I definitely agree with everyone that children don’t need activities to be scheduled all the time. When I was a child, going to the zoo or the cinema or out for a meal was a massive treat that you looked forward to for days. If these sorts of trips out become too commonplace then children don’t look forward to or appreciate them as much. As long as they don’t just watch TV ALL day then I think it’s great for them to stay at home!

  • Dee July 8, 2011 at 8:08 am

    It doesn’t sound selfish at all. I am also a homebody who values time alone. We sometimes play the quiet game just so I can think in peace. I don’t remember getting bored much as a kid, but when my kids tell me they are, I just point them towards some chores that need doing.

  • jenn July 8, 2011 at 9:58 am

    ahhh, my mom used to tell us “if you’re bored, you’re boring!”. it kinda made me understand that if i was bored, then it was up to me to find something entertaining. i have a brother and sister, and there were a ton of kids living on our block, so really there was never a need to be bored. and yet…

    🙂

  • LookWhatICanDo July 8, 2011 at 10:18 am

    Thank you for this post. I am also a home body and I feel a lot of pressure in the summertime. If we had more money we would take a few short trips…. But we don’t. So it’s up to Mama fun time guide to dazzle & amaze!!! My 3 year old is easy…a trip to the bank that includes a lollipop is like a safari adventure!!!
    While mt 9 year old daughter is another story. My fault really…as she grew older as an only child ( at that time) I took her all over the city & made a ton of plans!
    I still make a bunch of plans but on the days I just need to stay home I get a lot of attitude.
    As for being bored…as a kid we always kept busy & I never really had the time to be bored but I didn’t expect my Mom to entertain me…that was my job 🙂

  • yen July 8, 2011 at 10:49 am

    This so resonates! My kids do exactly the same thing and I feel exactly the same way about it, especially about the need for some silent alone time. It is moments like this I wish I had a backyard so I could just send them outside.

  • Jane July 8, 2011 at 11:51 am

    I think a lot of us had similar moms! My mom was always the first to say, “ok, if you want something to do, I’ll give you something to do” and it was usually putting away laundry or something exciting like that. I had toys, books and as much tv as I could possibly want, and working parents who had no patience for a whiney kid! But I don’t remember anyone having lots of activities planned for them, we mostly ran around the neighborhood with our friends and sat on the front steps!

  • plum July 8, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    I was so bored and lonely as a kid that i taught myself to read by 4 with my tape player and sole disney book tape. After that I read constantly but also spent too much time doing really really stupid stuff (ant torturing comes to mind). Time that could’ve been spent learning a language, music instrument, sport anything! Now I’m a mum, I have no qualms about packing my 42mth old little girl’s day. She’s free to take a break whenever she wants but she loves it. I am very grateful though, for those days when she’s had enough and just wants to stay in and watch ceebeebies (british advert-free childrens’ television, available free online)

  • hyzen July 8, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    We’re not quite at this stage yet with our kids, but here’s an idea. Maybe next time they complain about wanting to do something and can’t because you don’t have time at the moment or whatever, tell them you’re going to put it on a list for next time they’re bored. And then when they come to you saying they’re bored, let them pick something from the list.

    This actually helps me. I have so little free time, and I spend my work hours daydreaming about the fun things I want to do. Then, when I actually get a free moment, I sometimes freeze like a deer in the headlights and can’t think of what I wanted to do (or, just as likely, I can’t choose which thing to do first), and I end up squandering my moments in front of the tv or computer. The daydream to-do list helps me not to waste time.

    As a kid, though, I seemed to fill most of my free time with reading. Reading, drawing, playing with the dog, watching tv, playing at the neighborhood creek when I got old enough to go by myself…. I was very scheduled during the school year, but in summer there were more hours to fill.

  • catherine July 8, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    Growing up I recall my mother told us ‘bored people are boring people’ (obviously alot if I still remember it at 38!). I agree with it, however. I was actually the child playing alot by myself, always inventing new things to play with or do, so perhaps my parents had it pretty easy with me. Bored children need a good dose of imagination and creativity. My eldest needs more attention than my second child. I think the ‘i’m bored’ stage happens to every child and it’s not a case of parenting style but part growing up and part personality. Just found your blog through Cup of Jo today!

  • kate July 8, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    can i just tell you how much i relate to you at this moment??
    i have two boys, home for 2 wks too. and they do bounce off the walls. and they do say they’re bored a dozen times a day.

    my grandmother used to say there’s no such thing as the word bored. that’s what i’ve been saying to my kids 😉

  • Bianca July 11, 2011 at 1:13 am

    Love this post. My kids have just started their mid-year holidays over here in NZ and I’m waiting for the inevitable “I’m bored!” It put a smile on my face to see that you also use the term “only boring people get bored”. I love throwing that one out there. I think kids almost NEED to get bored – that’s when new games are invented and good old-fashioned fun happens. Enjoy every moment of the holidays. 🙂

  • Ayse July 11, 2011 at 3:13 am

    And that is why my usual reply to my son is “Back in my day, there was no such thing as getting bored”. I totally relate to every word of this post.

  • Tania July 11, 2011 at 8:57 am

    I think it’s sooo important for kids to have time to be bored! In my (not always popular) opinion, being in school and having other scheduled activities makes kids forget how to enjoy that puttering around, those quiet moments that are so important for so very many reasons…it’s one of the reasons we don’t send our kids to school, actually…

  • Louise July 11, 2011 at 11:25 am

    This is a great post – my 6 year old daughter frequently complains that she is bored. Like you we do plenty for the kids, but sometimes it’s life if they are bored – it certainly does them no harm. I had to laugh the other evening. As I was going to bed, I took a quick peep into my daughter’s bedroom to check on her. Usually fast asleep at this hour, the night in question she was wide awake. I asked her if she was alright and why she wasn’t asleep. Her tired and sleepy answer ‘I can’t sleep – I’m bored’.

  • Georgia July 12, 2011 at 6:22 am

    I have 3 and 4 year old girls, and I find that we have to be at home doing nothing for a whole day, and I have to work very hard at ignoring them, to let them get into the rythmn of playing at home by themselves. Eventually, after a few hours of drifting around, watching telly or complaining, they will find a game and become completely absorbed for hours! The best thing is to have a book you really want to finish. Sit on the sofa reading, then they have your presence, sitting still in one place, which they seem to like, but they can do their own thing. I love my home days, and it is definitely harder just having a hour or two of down time to fill as there is no time for them to get bored and become creative!

    I have just found your blog recently and I love it.

  • Closet Cravings July 14, 2011 at 9:24 am

    You may want to consider creating a “bored” jar. You write down different activities/projects/ideas for kids on a piece of paper and put them in a jar, and when they say they’re bored you have them pick an activity from the jar to do. Seems like it could work. =)

  • Lindsey July 14, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    I completely back you up on not planning and executing “outings” everyday. My husband and I are both Montessori teachers and we find that most children are so overstimulated and expect to be constantly entertained. In the end, this reliance on external forces to feel engaged in activity leeches these little beings of their creativity and makes for people who are, well, really boring. So kudos to you for following your instincts on that one!!! xo

  • Swedish in Atlanta July 16, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    Great post! I totally agree that somedays are best spent at home, even if it gets a little boring at times, both for me and the kids:)
    Petra

  • valerie July 27, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    I couldn’t agree more! I think it’s healthy for kids to be a bit bored here and there. I too get to feeling guilty when my nine-year old wants to know the day’s minute-by-minute itinerary, and won’t relent until I start to spin and spit green soup, or I oblige his activity-thirsty little soul.

    I’m happy to hear someone telling like it really is~

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