"Go read a book." You offer,
"Go play on the swings."
"Go play lego."
"Go play with your friend."
"Go play with your sibling"
"How about we do a puzzle."
"How about I stop what I am doing (because nothing *I* am ever doing is important, obviously) to build you a fort that you will enjoy for all of 15 minutes, then ruthlessly destroy, and come to me again whining about how bored you are?"
"How about you pull an activity out of my 'boredom jar' that I found out about on Pinterest and spent 2 hours of my precious time creating for you because the worst possible thing you can be in life, dear little one, is bored."
<--------- I hate this shit.
Ah, boredom. We all remember how terrible it felt to be bored as a child. That anxious, stressed out, wiggly feeling in your belly. Like you have just got to do SOMETHING, and you have got to do it now, but your little brain just can't possibly figure out what that thing should be. Being bored is uncomfortable, and no fun, and boring. Being bored is boring!*
But, what if being bored isn't the worst thing that your child could be?
What if being bored, in it's own way, is actually a GOOD thing?
And sometimes, we are bored and nothing comes of it. Instead, we are forced to find some amount of joy in just listening to the rain fall outside. Or sit peacefully in our homes, bored out of our fucking skulls, while our children run around happily in their pyjamas at 3pm, and we're going to have to find joy in that. Sometimes we don't jump up and make any incredible amount of fun for ourselves, and what we get instead is peace. That's good too.
The majority of us are going to spend a good chunk of our lives bored. We are going to be bored in our jobs. We are going to be bored in our marriages. We are going to be bored in our perfectly happy, mundane little lives.
We are doing our children a disservice by acting as if their boredom is the worst thing that can happen to them (and us) that day. I argue, instead, that we need to teach children to learn to sit with, and with okay with boredom. We should go so far as to create situations in which our kids can be bored.
- Enforce a daily hour of 'quiet time' where they must sit in their rooms with only a stack of books or lego (no screens!)
-Don't allow them have friends over every single day of the week. Give them an opportunity to be bored enough to play with their siblings, or have a conversation with you.
- Avoid scheduling after school activities every single day of the week. Give them a few days to sit around at home, play in the backyard, work on a project, or generally just chill out.
- Go camping somewhere with no wifi. Your kids (and you) will go out of your minds with boredom. It will be fabulous. Maybe you'll play card games, or go swimming, or roast marshmallows. Maybe you kids might even talk to you! With their mouths!!
- Let them see YOU relax. Let your children see you read for pleasure. Tell them to go away while you read 2 chapters of a book. It's GOOD for them.
- Instead of playing with them in the playroom all the time, bring a cushion down, lay on the floor with your eyes closed, a smile on your face, and invite them to come lay with you. Show them that you can enjoy someone's company without "doing something with" that person at all times (this will be a valuable lesson in marriage, when the time comes)
- Meditate with them. Do children's yoga.
-Invite one of YOUR friends over, and sit at your kitchen table, drink a cup of coffee or tea, and tell your kids to get lost. Let your kids see that face-to-face time with friends is important, and that you have important relationships with people outside of your family home.
If boredom were a garden-- peace, creativity, ingenuity, & self reliance would be flowers that grew in it. Being bored is a gift. Let your kids be bored. Let yourself be bored. See what happens.
"Let us not forget that boredom" is also a plight of the privileged. No child in Africa who spends 8 hours of their day retrieving water, is complaining about boredom. Let's remind our little shitheads who have kitchens full of food, taps full of water, and bedrooms full of toys of that little fact.