Our kids are generally kept very busy with school, sports, extracurricular lessons, homework, play dates and hopefully some family time squeezed in. Their schedules often need a PA and chauffeur to manage them and if there is any free time technology seems to be the quick and easy filler. Free time seems to evoke anxiety and cries of boredom or having absolutely nothing to do.
We just barely survived winter break with very few concrete plans and only some skiing on our ‘to do’ agenda. There was a lot of free, unscheduled time. It seems that life for kids is much easier and time flies by so much faster when every minute is planned for them. Even though the time away from school was much sought after, suddenly hours with nothing to do makes the days seem endless and ‘boring.’
Life doesn’t always have to be planned and goal driven, it is good for our brains and especially for our kids to have space and time to contemplate their next move or in fact to not do much at all. While boredom may generate some negative emotions and in my kids case a bunch of whining and complaining it can result in new motivation and a desire to change track and reengage with tasks that we then gain pleasure from. Boredom can build self-reliance, creativity and self-motivation. Giving kids an opportunity to plan their own day, make their own choices and figure out a strategy to provide for their own happiness is a great skill builder. Check out this NY Times article for more support of letting children experience boredom.
At camp free time is intentionally built into our day so that girls have the space to think about what they would like to do and to fill their own time. There are organized opportunities provided like rec swim or a bracelet making party along with plenty of opportunities for spontaneous play be it in the gaga pit, on the courts or just around the cabin or in the woods. Girls may also choose to hang out in the Lodge and look at the logs, read a book or play a board game with friends. Often they can be found sitting on porches chatting or having fun with friends or visiting a sister or cousin in a different shack. Campers never seem to be bored at camp. They engage with each other, with adults and with their environment and take advantage of the opportunities provided to keep themselves engaged.
We are really doing our children a favor when we let them have the opportunity to get ‘bored,’ maybe we need to schedule boredom in more often during the school year!