I’m Bringing Boredom Back.

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long live boredomIf I were the sign-carrying, protesting type, I would totally protest summer.

I’d stand sit in my lawn chair under an umbrella out on Scottsdale Road with a long sign that read, “Shame on you summer!”

I would hang outside the library and stalk invite you to sign my anti-summer petition.

I’d chain myself to April and refuse to leave.

I’d write my congressman and be sure that every Facebook post reminded you of our nation’s great need for Summer Reform. 

Why, you ask? I’m really disappointed in what summer has become. 

There was a time when summer meant long lazy days, unscheduled weeks, and endless hours of boredom.  Not today.  Today, summer is a thing of the past and boredom is but a memory from days gone by.  We schedule, we plan, we micromanage.  Camps, lessons, play dates, computers, iPad’s, iPhones, activities, driving, stay cool, stay active, stay clean, stay busy, keep occupied- summer is anything but boring.  Maybe I’m the minority but I absolutely LOVE it when my kids utter the words, “Mom, I’m boooorrred!”

We’ve eliminated the possibility of boredom and robbed our children of the beauty of summer.  This summer, I’m bringing boredom back.  

Boredom breeds creativity. We have literally boxed our children in with structure.  Of course, structure is a necessary part of life. It offers safety, helps foster education, and teaches responsibility.  But when schedules leave room for unbridled discovery and play, the imagination kicks into high gear.  I’ve watched my “bored kids” create elaborate and beautiful masterpieces.  Imaginary forts, spectacular restaurants that serve menu’s of pretzels and goldfish crackers, and fly hot air balloons over the Pacific.  It starts the same every time. Electronic screen time ends, the chores are done and they come to me, begging me to find something for them to do. They are completely and absolutely BORED.  The temptation for me to step in and tell them what to do, to cure their boredom is great.   But I’ve found, more often than not, if I ignore their repeated petitions- eventually boredom leads to creativity and before long they are lost in an imaginary world of wonder that I could never create for them.

Boredom breeds exploration. We are creatures of habit, and so are our kids.  It doesn’t take long for the same toys they’ve played with over and over to become old hat.  If your kids are like mine, they’ve fallen prey to the marketing all around us and are always begging for the latest toy, the newest edition, and the next big thing.  Rather than hop in the car and head for Target, let boredom take over!  I’m pretty sure Lewis and Clark’s discoveries were products of boredom.  And I’m 43% positive that Columbus most likely grew tired of the familiar and boredom led him to explore new lands.  Rather than supply our kids with the next toy fix, why not allow them to explore what an old cardboard box can become? Or discover the view from the backyard tree? Let boredom be their guide!

Boredom breeds rest.  The generation we are raising demands entertainment.  Show me. Wow me. But only use 30 seconds or 140 characters because after that I’m over it and onto the next thing. Our attention spans are shrinking, and our patience dwindling.  We fill our lives with noise and over-plan, over-schedule our days. And, I wonder, why?  Are we afraid of the still, quiet moments?  Are we teaching our kid’s to follow our lead?  In boredom we become aware of our thoughts, our feelings, ourselves.  In boredom we can listen.  Teaching our kid’s to listen and take time to reflect is priceless.  Rather than running off to the next activity, we can teach our kids the value of living in the present moment.  Let boredom lead the way to conversations on the couch, afternoon naps and quiet moments of rest.  Boredom brings balance, if you let it.

So, there you have it. That’s why I’m brining boredom back.  And in my best Jerry Maguire voice, I now ask, “Who’s coming with me?”

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Noelle Larson is a mom still searching to find the “balance” between her spiritual journey, family, ambition, inner peace, world peace…all while trying not to blink so she doesn’t miss one minute of her beautiful, messy life.  Noelle writes at metromom.org where she journals her crazy days chasing after her kids and husband, deep thoughts, and captures her latest adventures.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Love. I grew up playing in the AZ heat all summer and I agree that it’s time to get the littles into the same non structured fun. As B turns 4, she can have that alone time to come up with something new – I just need to remember to give her that time! The first week of camp this summer I realized that I over did it. But July is about as unscheduled as it comes so I’m looking forward to the boring times to come!

  2. Thank you Noelle for this and I’m going to share. I need to grasp the boredom; my kids are already “bored” and I feel guilty that nothing is going on but no more I’m going to take boredom by the horns and let them be creative and come up with fun things. Now to find a few big boxes!!!!

  3. Love this Noelle!! This summer we are “bored” too!! We have 2 VBS camps and 1 gym camp and that’s it. The other 7 weeks of our summer are going to be all about bordom – otherwise known as being creative, playing outside (yes in the heat), and “mom I’m bored!”. So glad to know that there are a few other moms out there in my camp too!

    • Christy, those cardboard boxes are priceless! Appliance stores are great places to look! Abbi, I’m so glad you’re savoring summer with ME!

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