Do you ever get bored?
Our five-year-old son has recently started throwing out the “I’m bored” line, usually when something he was looking forward to doesn’t work out and he’s “stuck” playing inside at home.
The funny thing is that I realized I was a bit jealous when I heard him say it!
When I was a kid, I probably told my parents I was bored no less than 100 times a week.
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We grew up in the sticks, and we were quite poor, so I didn’t get the chance to do a lot of the stuff that my friends from school were doing. No Little League, no soccer, no Boy Scouts and no neighborhood kids to play with.
Now, this wasn’t entirely bad. It really helped me develop a love for the outdoors and a pretty wicked imagination.
I guess that will happen when your idea of fun is getting yourself lost in the woods so you can find your way back home, all while pretending you’re a ninja. But, alas, I was quite a bored little guy for many years.
And I miss it.
No Time for Boredom!
Of course, nowadays there are WAY too many things going on to ever be bored.
I’m sure you can relate to the hectic life of a young married couple, especially if you have little kids looking to you to keep them entertained (and fed).
We work a lot to advance our careers, and many of us continue to grow our education at the same time.
We help out in our community and church as much as we can.
We coach tee-ball and attend every weekend soccer game to support our kids.
We visit our own parents to see how they’re doing and to show off their grandkids.
We take shopping trips to Wal-Mart (that sometimes make us feel like a ninja again), and we work on our family finances to provide the best life we can for our family.
We try to exercise and spend time with our friends occasionally.
We read books to expand our mind and watch TV to help it contract back a little.
We make sure our spouse knows they’re the top priority in all of this craziness by carving out a few sacred minutes each day to spend some quality time together.
And some of us even blog late into the night to help make sense of it all for others (but mostly for ourselves).
Personally, I am a lot of things, but bored is not one of them!
Help Your Kids Be Bored
I have to be honest: when I hear our kids say they are bored, I smile a little.
They are involved in a lot of activities and they certainly are not suffering from a lack of “stuff” to keep them occupied even if, God forbid, there’s a rainy day that keeps them cooped up. But they do have down time in their young lives to just sit and draw, play together and imagine they are on crazy adventures that don’t require a TV or a schedule.
Our kids get bored sometimes, and that is awesome.Photo by John-Morgan
That’s wonderful that you were able to appreciate that he has that luxury of boredom (instead of getting annoyed). I can’t remember the last time I hard that joy!
.-= Bucksome Boomer´s last blog ..Update your Interview Wardrobe without Spending a Fortune =-.
Thanks, Bucksome! Naturally, he doesn’t see it as a luxury, but I guess that’s part of getting “old” and wise. 🙂
Another difference you didn’t mention – I’m guessing that your son is not allowed to get himself lost in the woods. 🙂
Even so, I think you’re so right that kids need to be bored. When their lives are overstructured, there’s no chance for their imagination to engage. What a shame that would be, to go through childhood with no time for flights of fancy!
Good point, Susan. Of course, I don’t think I was quite roaming solo when I was five years old, but I do have a hard time seeing how we’re going to feel okay with him doing much wandering alone as he gets older. It was a big part of my childhood, but it just seems so unsafe to let kids do anything unsupervised nowadays.
Regardless, we will certainly make it a point to not to over-schedule our kids, so they have plenty of time to cure their own boredom. 😉
I know what you mean – but I wonder sometimes if it’s really less safe, or if it just feels that way because we have websites and 24 hour news stations that are trying to draw an audience. That said, I certainly wouldn’t be willing to risk my children on it!
Not only will your children benefit from the boredom, your pocketbook will, too!
I grew up out in the sticks as well…unlimited space and no one other than my sister to play with. We loved it, and I would give almost anything to have some of those long “boring” days in the woods back! I’m making notes for when we finally have kids…make sure they have some “boring” time scheduled. 🙂
Yeah, in hindsight, I’m totally glad I grew up that way, Jen. But at the time, it seemed like I was being tortured by my parents! 🙂
Interesting post, Dustin.
Where our children go to school, the educational emphasis is enshrined in the view that “the parents are the main educators of their children”. Fortunately, our school ( www.Tangara.nsw.edu.au ) provides a Key Parent Function every school term. Just recently our school organised for a speaker, Mrs Kathy Walker, to present “Preparing your Children for Success: Focusing on the Early Years”.
Kathy Walker’s presentation was illuminating and most encouraging. She stressed the importance of play for children as this helps them to come to terms with themselves and the world around them. It fosters their creativity, imagination, initiative and self confidence. She emphasised that children up to the age of 8 years should not be allowed more than one hour of screen time per day (includes television, computers etc).
I guess my point with all this is the structured activities (singing, dancing, pre-school, tutorials for pre-schoolers etc,) that we impose on our children can result in negative long term effects inc poor socialisation and low self esteem.
“Play” is to children what “Work” is to adults.
“Play is to children what “Work” is to adults.
GREAT quote, Gerry! In fact, I liked it so much that I tweeted about it.
I could become famous!…oh my God I’m having hot flushes!
I think it should have read: “Play” is to children like “Work” is Adults.
Hi Dustin – I really liked this post because I tell my son all the time: It’s ok to be bored.
He never agrees, but really – when being bored is what results when the TV or video games go off – I’m ok with that!
Absolutely, Melissa. Thanks for the kind words!
I have to admit my son’s (he is almost 5) boredom does bother me. I am not someone who believes in scheduling children’s activities, but I feel he should learn to think of something to do himself when he is bored so he learns to use his mind. Last month I was reading this post (http://outspokenmedia.com/social-media/smart-marketers-never-get-bored/) on Outspoken Media, and I really like what her mom told her in response to the “I’m bored” complaint “Smart people can entertain themselves. They never get bored.” And I think that is how I feel about my son, I don’t believe that me scheduling things for him to do is the solution to his boredom, the solution is him learning to use his mind responsibly to NOT be bored. I can help teach him this responsibility by the way I react to his statement. So I try to encourage him to think about what he feels like doing so he learns to come up with the solutions himself.
“Smart people can entertain themselves.” I really like that. Although I’m not sure it always applies to a 5 year old, I do see the value in using that as a guiding principle as we respond to the “I’m bored” line from our young kids.
Ahhh…boredom, that was the life! When my brothers and I got bored (which was frequently) we built forts inside the house and played games inside them, or played sports outside, or made up imaginary games, played lego…I mean, we had FUN! I’m kind of glad we were poor too, because you’re right Dustin, it leaves much more to be imagined:)
.-= Esther @Purpose Passion Purity´s last blog ..The Good Wife’s Guide =-.
Yeah for the poorhouse, Esther! 😉
My closest brother in age was six years older than me, so our playtime together was pretty limited. Our kids are much closer in age, so I definitely think that should help them stay entertained (and hopefully even bond and like each other a little).
I rarely got bored when I little either, too much to do and explore and create and try and…..
However my goal now is to slow right down and even stop.
Most of our creativity needs us to be at rest to create – this includes problem solving.
Interestingly so does so much else, ie rely on us being at rest, including having quiet time with God!
.-= Cathy J´s last blog ..Cost of Dating: Part 2 Turn Financial Costs Into Wise Investments =-.
You are totally right, Cathy. This is something I struggle with as a busy adult. I actually wrote a post in the early days of this site about the idea of “sitting for ideas.” Have you checked that out?
Hello! I just recently “stumbled-upon” your blog. I can not wait to read more! My fiancé and I have been engaged for 2 months now and we just started a pre-marriage/engagement blog! I will be on your website a lot to find ideas and to learn more about marriage!