Dear 21st Century Moms,
No child has ever actually died of boredom. Really.
As a teacher, I was always taught that you can minimize disruptive behavior in your classrooms as long as the kids are always engaged. If they aren’t bored, they won’t act out. I took that message to heart and applied it in parenting as well. And while it definitely has some truth to it – you cannot spend your entire life trying to find ways to keep your kid entertained. A) It’s not healthy. B) It’s impossible. At any given point in a day, there are naturally other things that you must tend to – and during that time, your child must be able to problem-solve and figure out what to do with themselves.
This week was Spring Break in Houston and I’m sure, just like me, many moms and dads were busting their backs trying to plan a fun week for their kiddos. Nothing wrong with that. And if you’re taking a family trip – congrats, that’ll be a good break and great bonding time for everyone! But if you’re going to be staying at home – you shouldn’t feel pressured to fill up every minute of your kids day with some sort of social gathering or activity. It has actually become a norm amongst yuppie parents, on a day to day basis, to completely fill up the schedules of even their youngest toddlers – little people who can’t even speak yet! From Montessori’s, Daycares, Mommy’s Day Out programs, to swim lessons, karate, music class, baby gyms, etc. We are always trying to find endless ways of ensuring that our kid is always BUSY, and therefore, hopefully happy and growing.
But guess what? Busy doesn’t always equal happy and growing. It may seem like boredom doesn’t equal happy and growing either, but it will… in the long run. And the personal growth will be significant. Because boredom is good for kids. “Unstructured” time, where kids are left to figure out life for themselves leads to many adult-life benefits:
- learning how to manage your time vs. someone else setting up your day
- bringing out your inner creativity vs. partaking in structured activities
- figuring out what your own interests are vs. things being provided to you
- depending on yourself for entertainment vs. your parents, friends or other adults
Kids also just need some down time in general. As they’re growing and their minds are absorbing more and more – they need breaks to rest up and process all the stimuli around them. Some quiet time at home or relaxing time with mommy and daddy actually goes a long way even though it may not be as exciting as go-karting or indoor playplaces.
During Spring Break, I too have been guilty of ushering my three littles out of the house every morning, trying to pack in some sort of fun activity before nap time. This morning, we actually went strawberry picking at a local farm and the girls had a blast! They learned the difference between ripe and unripe fruits, used hand-eye coordination for holding and cutting off strawberries themselves, and just enjoyed being outdoors in the fresh air with their grandmother and I. (See how I planned out all these benefits in my head before taking them?! So guilty of new-age obsessive parenting). But as much as I thought this was going to be their entertainment for the day – I realized later, that our afternoon at home had been equally enjoyable for them. We washed dishes together, the girls played UNO in their playroom, and then they were trying on and cat-walking in my shoes while I straightened up my closet! The amount of laughter and joy I’ve seen in the afternoon was equal to if not more than the morning! Kids are pretty simple people. They don’t need all the “awesome” playdates and activities that we so carefully plan for them. They just need to be surrounded by love and given the freedom to play and explore.
So in light of my reflection today, I’m suggesting that maybe all of us need to take a break from busting our backs to organize and execute fancy activities EVERY SINGLE DAY for our darlings. It is definitely healthy to get out of the house when your kids are little and let everyone get some fresh air. It helps the day goes by faster and you just need to change up the routine a little for sanity’s sake. Just don’t over do it.
Getting out of the house with three littles can often be a huge challenge in itself. So instead, let them get bored once in a while. THEY WILL SURVIVE…and despite some nagging here and there…YOU WILL TOO. While outside activities may enrich them socially and expose them to new concepts (such as strawberry-picking!), giving them indoor downtime is fulfilling their emotional needs and helping them developmentally too. Kids when they’re “bored” at home learn to be independent, creative, and bond with their siblings and parents uninterruptedly.
Well, that is if everyone doesn’t annoy the crap out of each other first.
Just saying. I’m a mom of three littles. I know how it goes. 😉
For those of you curious about our adventure today, Blessington Farm was an awesome experience! They’re super-friendly, kid-friendly, have tons of strawberries in stock, and reasonably priced. Check out the pics below!