Friday, July 10, 2015

The lost art of boredom

Our second lot of school holidays this year have almost finished. Youngest Son heads back on Monday, Eldest Son & Middle Son return the following day. Dare I say, they can't really complain about being 'bored' these holidays. We've headed to mini golf, a movie or two and an indoor trampolining place. They've visited friends and had friends visit them. We've been to the local park a number of times where we've played football and frisbee. Youngest Son spent a day with a friend in a holiday camp building Lego and swimming in the indoor heated pool. We've eaten out, spent very little time in shopping centres (something they dislike, unless they're buying something for themselves!) and played a heap of video games on the wet, cold days. I played an intense game of Junior Trivial Pursuit with Middle Son (and lost - ahem), and a number of games of Connect Four with the other boys. They've played board games with each other. They have, in my opinion, been kept sufficiently amused.

And yet, here we are on Friday, and they're asking if we can do something 'special' today. *sigh*

Kids really don't know how to entertain themselves these days. Back in my day (I know - I'm sounding just like an actual parent now), boredom was part and parcel of school holidays. I recall many times complaining of being 'so bored!' and yet my mother didn't haul me off to such venues mentioned above (in actual fact, she didn't even have a driver's licence), rather she suggested I 'play this' or 'play that' and in the end, it was up to me to amuse myself.

And guess what? I did. I read books, I wrote stories, I played many, many games of solitaire (with actual playing cards, of course). I had one electronic gaming device: a Nintendo Game & Watch (remember Parachute?), and believe me, although it was addictive catching all those parachutes in a boat as they fell from a helicopter, it was a just little repetitive after a while. I played with my dolls, I played 'schools' - pretending to teach my imaginary class of students about a made up island, drawn on my chalkboard. I set up a 'shop' in my cubby house, selling mud pies out of the window to imaginary customers. (Perhaps the imaginary parents of the imaginary students?)

I didn't even have siblings around to amuse me; being twenty-one years apart in age, my sister was well and truly out of the home before I was even born. I did, however, sometimes have her kids - my niece and nephew (my age) - come over for a few days to both relieve my sister during school holidays so she could work and provide entertainment for me. And together, we played all those imaginative games together (and partook in some very noisy sessions playing Hungry Hippos, from memory).

I think it's really important to be bored. I was bored so often as a kid, it taught me how to amuse myself and as a consequence, I've always been very comfortable spending time alone. In fact, I crave alone time, and I'm very capable of finding ways to keep myself entertained.

So, even though my boys get to do a helluva lot more than I ever did on school holidays, there are days (like today) I instruct them to amuse themselves, and if they tell me they're bored, I advise them I'll find them something to do. Like, say, empty the dishwasher or pick up the dog poo or replace all the toilet paper in the bathrooms or colour-code the Lego. They soon realise they can probably find something else to do that's a little more appealing than that.

Being bored, I say, is a great life lesson.



  1. I think being bored is one of the MOST important parts of childhood.

    When our children were small and used to complain to me about being bored, I'd say to them that saying "I'm bored!" means you're a boring person. Go and find something that want to do and become an interesting person. All your life you have to live with yourself and the best thing to do is to learn how to amuse yourself. Find out what you like doing and then all your life you'll be able to keep yourself entertained. And other people will find you interesting.

    They hated it at the time! But now they tell me it was the best advice because they didn't want to be boring and so looked for things to entertain themselves. Now they are extremely creative. They all have loads of diverse hobbies which they actively enjoy.

    I do feel quite thinly spread at this time of year trying to attend all their different events (there are four of them)!!

    My son finds it difficult sometimes because he does a lot of sport (like really a lot) but his friends mostly just play computer games. But he's so good at sport now that he actually assists his sport teacher as a sport mentor for the younger kids at school. This is a huge achievement for him because he is ADHD and autistic.

    As a parent, I feel a lot of pressure from society to do a lot with my children. To take them places and entertain them. I feel entertained (though exhausted!) then too. Of course, it's a different time. We can drive and have a car available to us. And there seem to be a lot more child oriented places to go, don't you think?

    I feel a lot more involved in my children's lives than my parents ever were in mine. We do more together, hang out more together, we even Whatsapp each other (occasionally while in the same building!!) ;-)

    I think it's great that you did so much with your boys, but you're totally right being bored for a bit will do them good. Because it will help them find out who they are.

    1. I remember there were times I wished my parents would play more with me - I was like an only child, after all! Our kids are lucky they have siblings to hang with - but I'm also glad I've developed the ability to amuse myself for many hours. I'm also comfortable not having to fill my day in with stuff all the time. When we holiday, my husband wants to do one thing after another. I like seeing things, but I also just love down time where we do NOTHING! I agree - kids these days live such scheduled lives and can be exhausting, which is why I think the boredom thing occasionally is so important. Otherwise, they'll never learn how to just R-E-L-A-X! :) So happy to hear your son is doing so well, Sarah! xox

  2. Thank you!! I am like your husband. I completely over do it on holiday. I have to see everything/try everything. The rest of the family think I'm mad!!!
    I had a brother and a sister but the first one didn't come along until I was 10 so I didn't play with them much. But they did keep me busy then. Until then I longed for siblings. Probably why I opted for four!! :-)


Thanks for stopping by and for sharing your thoughts. J xox