Like most parents, I want a lot of things for my children. I want them to be happy, feel loved, get a good education, have compassion for others, develop long-lasting friendships, have self-confidence, value money…the list goes on and on.
But I’ve decided that I also want my kids to be bored.
Sounds strange, I know, but stay with me.
You see, as parents it’s really easy to fall into the trap of feeling we need to be event planners or entertainment coordinators. We often strive to fill every minute of the family schedule with play dates and birthday parties, dance lessons, and little league practices…trips to the playground and swimming pools, plays and theme parks, camps and movies. You name it.
Why? Well, if we are honest, one reason is comparison. The Joneses posted these cool pictures on Facebook of their kids picking apples. We need to take our kids to pick apples! We are terrible parents…our kids have never picked apples!
Another reason is the notion that we want our kids to experience all the things we never did while growing up. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but do we have to cram it all into the first five years of their lives?
I can tell you my wife and I have been guilty of this. Here’s a list of things our kids did a while back…in just one day.
- Went out for doughnuts
- Saw a children’s play
- Ate out for lunch
- Spent a couple of hours at the pool
- Went out for ice cream
Emily and I didn’t even realize all that had gone on until we recapped the day’s activities that evening! We had fallen victim to the entertainment trap without even knowing it!
So the next day we were determined to do nothing.
And after some grumbling about the TV not being on, guess what happened. The kids played…together even! They built a fort and played in it for hours. They laughed so hard that we could hear them through the entire house. They even shared their toys and put a puzzle together.
It was so much fun! And, it made me think…we don’t let our kids get bored enough.
All too often we move them from one activity to the next, thinking we deserve some kind of parent of the year award because of all the cool things the kids get to do.
When, in actuality, we are doing them a disservice. You see, being bored is when kids build forts and open lemonade stands. It’s when they make up stories and games. It’s when kids learn to think and imagine.
Being bored is when siblings become teammates and friends.
It’s when they learn to be independent and self-sufficient. It’s when some of the best childhood memories are formed.
For example, one day when my family was just hanging around the house…no activities, no TV…my daughter wrote a book. She loved it and she was proud of it. And that book never would have been written if we had been out painting pottery or something.
Make no mistake, there is nothing wrong with activities.
I do want my children to experience different things in life; that opinion won’t change. Hey, I love a good doughnut run as much as they do! But, we need to strike a healthy balance.
It’s time we stopped viewing the phrase “I’m bored” as an insult or a personal attack on our parenting skills, but rather as an opportunity for our kids to do something truly memorable.
As I said, I want a lot for my children. But maybe, just maybe, one of the best things I can give them is a clean schedule.
I'd like to hear from you! Do you ever find yourself becoming an event planner for your children? How do you strike the right balance? You can leave a comment by clicking here.