Why Summer Boredom Is Healthy For Kids


Summer Boredom

The sun announces its arrival a little too early.

Although the blinds are shut, there is enough light to allow several rays of morning sun into our room. It’s only 5:45 a.m., but the day begins, even if I am not always ready.

My daughter  has never embraced “sleeping-in.” Her footsteps will soon greet me. Breakfast, brushing teeth, bathing, and the same predictable question:

“What are we going to do today, Momma?” 

Summer break is here and trying to answer this question is always a challenge. I’ve struggled with the answer. As a little girl growing up in the suburbs of Texas, I didn’t attend summer camps or have playdates scheduled every day of the week. Because I was an only child for almost 9 years, I learned to play on my own. Part of playing included simple pursuits, like riding my bike down the street, skipping rocks at the local creek, and hanging out with neighborhood friends in the front yard. Other parts of my summer were filled with trips to the library, where I checked out several books at once. I spent time reading in one particular corner of the couch so often, I can still recall the pattern on the sofa fabric.

My mom and dad were not shuffling me from one place to another in order to keep me entertained during the summer. And yes, like most kids, there were long stretches of time where the phrase,”I am so bored” kept coming up. A few days ago, my daughter uttered the same phrase,“I am bored, Momma.”

I found it a little odd that she would say this, especially because her weekend was full of activities: a swimming party, a playdate, and a dinner outing. It irritated me when she said this, partially because I saw it as a shortcoming on my part, but then as I pondered her statement, I thought, what’s wrong with boredom? 

I told my daughter, “It’s OK to be bored.”

Part of appreciating time is knowing it’s there. Our society perpetuates this myth that over-scheduling and saying “yes” to everything and everyone is somehow the perfect recipe for happiness. I am not exempt from buying into this myth. I spent years not allowing myself to be “bored.” Filling my time with self-created errands and commitments that weren’t really fulfilling, I saw much of my time evaporate, and questioned what I had really accomplished.

A few days ago, my daughter and I spent the evening being bored. And this is what it looked like:

  • we spent an hour reading together side by side
  • we cooked dinner together as she asked me about a new word she read in her book
  • we played shadow puppets in the dark with the flashlight.

I felt the gravity of time in our interaction and the purity in our spending our evening together. We were not driving around or stimulating her with television or other people or things, but allowing time to take over enough to truly appreciate it.

Do you advocate boredom for your children? How do you respond when you daughter or son says, “I am bored!”?



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here