Let Children Get Bored Again

"Boredom teaches us that life isn’t a parade of amusements. More important, it spawns creativity and self-sufficiency."

I’m writing to share this article from the New York Times about boredom and the value for our children of having nothing to do. When I was a little girl, I would occasionally whine to my mother during the long summer months about being bored, to which she would reply, “Go outside and play with your brothers and sisters” or the old chestnut, “read a book.” And that was the extent of my mother’s (who was hardly known as the Love Boat Cruise Coordinator) repertoire.

Years later when I lived near in Rhode Island in a small neighborhood by the beach, my two older children entertained themselves by gathering quahogs near the pond, biking, kayaking, reading, and simply playing. Leisure time also gave them contemplative time and it sparked many conversations beginning with, “why?” I loved their independence and their sense of adventure as summers were happy and more leisurely, even when they whined a bit. When we moved to the suburbs of Philadelphia, life was different, and my youngest immediately signed up for soccer and lacrosse, followed by sleep-away summer camp for seven weeks. I often wondered if he had ever lain in the grass as his older brother had, gazing at cloud formations rather that careening down mowed or turf fields. All are fabulous adults, unharmed by either mode of parenting, but I do wish all of our children had more downtime. I am pretty good at self entertainment as I had to practice.  

Times have changed, and organized activity is a part of the everyday life of our children, but sometimes it is a good thing to tell them to find their own entertainment, and our job and responsibility is not to facilitate their fun all the time. We parents also have our own lives and that is important for our children to realize. I hope you enjoy the article.   

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