I’m bored, I’m so bored, I am bored. It doesn’t really matter which way my kids say it. When I hear those words come out of their precious, little mouths I just want to scream SO FUCKING WHAT! That’s the conversation I have in my head. Because what really comes out is, go play with your toys, go read, go draw, go play with your sister or brother or the dog. And, no you may not have a screen, which is usually how this conversation begins.
I am by no means a “free range parent” just check out my Halloween costume from last year. Helicopter mom of the year.
What is Unstructured Playtime?
However, I do believe in unstructured play time. By definition – at least to me – that means my bored child or children have to figure out how to entertain themselves without a screen in the safety of the whatever environment we happen to be in (home, grandparents house, etc.)
This does not mean I plan their unstructured playtime activities. It cracks me up when I see posts with titles like 6 ways to create unstructured playtime or 13 unstructured playtime ideas. Isn’t the idea here to not structure your kids – i.e. back off?
Parenting Resolutions for 2017
Author Braden Bell inspired me to write this post after reading his article in the Washington Post. As a dad, he wrote about his parenting resolutions for 2017. I really liked what he had to say. Among his resolutions:
- Allow his kids to struggle and fail
- Spend more time coaching his kids and helping them to develop their own ideas and solutions
- Do chores
- Allow his children unstructured time even to be bored
They’re all challenges we face as parents. But, I believe it’s also our responsibility to instill these values in our children which include hard work, contributing to the family unit and engaging in thoughtful conversation and problem solving.
Bored Child – Why You Should Do Nothing
My oldest child can entertain herself. Maybe it’s because she was an only child for the first 5 1/2 years of her life and we were pretty hung ho on no tv or devices (we didn’t own any devices so that was easy). I didn’t even have the ability to text message until 2010. My youngest, he likes to be entertained. He grew up with an iPad and was pretty competent with it by age 2. He’s the one most likely to yell “I’m bored.”
Allowing your child to be bored is tough. It’s right up there with allowing them to fail. But, sometimes you just got to do it.There are many benefits of boredom like creativity, curiosity, problem solving and risk taking. Cindy Foley is the Executive Deputy Director for Learning and Experience at the Columbus Museum of Art. She did a whole TEDx talk about the benefits of boredom. It is definitely worth watching.
Wrapping it Up
My kids made out pretty well at Christmas and Hanukkah, since we celebrate both. But it never fails, even though they got most of the items on the their wish list, they probably had the most fun with the big box that one of the items came in. Go figure.