April 21, 2020

The Art of Being Bored

As a teacher I have said for many years that children in this day and age have a tough time with silence.  

With the availability of visual and auditory stimulation everywhere we look in our lives, silence makes children uncomfortable and kids nowadays actually have to practice being bored.  

As digital natives, this is a hard concept for many of them.

I have always loved background noises.  I always wanted music on while doing homework as a kid, I fell asleep to music and I still like to fall asleep with the TV on for background white noise.  You can usually find Alexa playing some sort of music around our house if I have anything to do with it.  I don't have to have it, but I definitely enjoy it.

This got me thinking about my own children.  Are they dependent on certain types of stimulation?  Are they okay with silence?  Does it make them uncomfortable to have no direction from me during play times?

So with all of this time on our hands I started watching.  And observing.   And I noticed that they actually don't have to have that much extra stimulation at all.  They have enough creativity and expression going on in their heads already, that they don't need a whole lot of help from me (thank goodness!!!).

I know now that they actually like to make their own music and are constantly singing, coming up with their own songs or making noises themselves and many days we don't even turn the TV on until after 4 or 5 in the afternoon.  (Please don't get the wrong impression that we aren't TV/movie loving people...we are as a family, just not usually during the day, most days).

With all of the at home time we have been spending and the urge to have every minute of the day filled up with projects and stimulation, I will say that taking a step back and giving my kids time to actually "be bored" has been an amazing gift.  

They have gotten better at problem solving, using words to tell others how they are feeling and knowing when they need to step back and take a break.   And they are learning all of these things almost entirely on their own.

I have seen their otherwise average creative juices start to overflow.  They have come up with ways to play that I never thought they would independently.  

They have also become okay with playing by themselves and making up their own games.  They don't mind being bored and now they are so used to it they aren't depending on me to show them what to do or give them a list of what their options are...they just figure.it.out.  

During this time of social distancing our children have had time to go back to the basics.  

They have:

  • made mud pies in the back yard
  • played "house" with the neighbors
  • sprayed the hose at each other and have gotten soaking wet for hours at a time
  • climbed trees
  • created a bike obstacle course out of buckets
  • run around the house and kept track of how many laps
  • swung, hung and read in the hammock
  • eaten snacks in their rock garden
  • watched the birds that visit our bird feeders everyday
  • played board games and finished puzzles  
  • jumped on the trampoline for hours
  • begged to go on walks after dinner every night

They have had the opportunity to experience a truly unplugged childhood (after virtual classes of course, lol).

Having the chance to do all of these things that we usually "don't have time for" in our over scheduled lives has been so nice to witness and even participate in.

Do I miss being busy?  YES.  Do I miss experiencing new things?  YES.  Do I have a list of things I want to do once we are back to normal? Absolutely YES.  Have I enjoyed taking step back and finding other ways to occupy my time and talents...also YES.  I can say that I have learned that being busy is great, but being bored sometimes is ok, too.

The gist?  

When life gives you lemons...make a margarita and let your kids be bored.  They will thank you for it.

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