homeschool helps,  Parenting Tip

How To Combat Summer Boredom… Don’t

I have spent the last ten months of my life teaching these children, planning events, toting them around all over town to soccer practice, play rehearsal, the goat farm, youth group, play dates, enrichment classes, field trips, field day, celebrations, park days, and so. much. more.

I am on summer break just as much as they are. I have a list of things I cannot wait to accomplish. I have a stack of books to read. I have a book study I want to participate in with other moms. I have paintings I want to paint and t shirts I want to make and blog posts I want to write. I have things that I have put on hold for the year, waiting for the time when I could focus on… wait for it… me.

I do not care that you are bored, my sweet children. I really don’t. Because you know what… boredom fosters creativity.

Whenever my children come to me and say, “Mom, I’m bored.” I do not pull out a crafty, pinterest worthy boredom buster jar. I do not rattle off a list of activities to fill their time. I do not jump and say, “Oh, well let me entertain you.” I simply look at them and say,

Great! Boredom fosters creativity. I can’t wait to see where this leads.

Now… you have to be willing to let the creativity bloom. If you say boredom fosters creativity, but then you don’t allow space for that creativity… you might as well just go ahead and have the boredom buster jar ready… I’m not saying that sarcastically. If you need to have that sense of control and are not able to let your children explore, have the jar with approved activities. Go to Pinterest and search “Boredom Jar.” You’ll find all kinds of ideas.

Are you tracking with me? This post is not about giving you a list of things to combat summer boredom. My hope in this post is to give you the freedom to not entertain your children. To let them sit in the silence of their minds and have time to let creativity flow.

Our children (and ourselves for that matter) are surrounded by constant stimulation. Our culture really doesn’t allow for boredom. There is always something to do, something to make, something to watch, something to play, somewhere to go.

When we first moved to the mountains eight years ago, we lived in a neighborhood with a lot of kids. I knew they were there because I watched the schoolbus come day after day to deliver them home. I anticipated an elevation in noise and activity when summer came, but nothing changed. There were no kids out and about during the day. I discovered the culture of signing your kids up for camp, Boys and Girls club, all the Vacation Bible Schools in town. Summer does not mean downtime… it means different activities.

Our kids participate in our church’s VBS and one week of camp. The only reason they go to the one week of camp is that a local camp graciously opens its doors at the end of the regular season to children who have been touched by cancer. All four of my kids get to experience a great week with kids who have a common bond… either themselves or a family member have been through cancer in some form or another. It was an opportunity we could not pass up.

For the most part, however, we slow down in the summer. We do not schedule much. We join a local pool where we spend quite a bit of time. We do not do school. We do not do sports. We do go out into nature. We do have lazy mornings. We do spend time with friends. We do eat smores.

What would it look like in your home to let your child sit in their boredom? How do you think they might decide to fill their time? Can you look ahead to the future and see how when we give our children time to sit and stew in themselves, they might actually discover a little of who they are and how they are wired? What might happen if our children are allowed stillness in their day? What if we took away the programming and the schedules and allowed space for boredom?

Could it be that our children learn to be more self aware? Could it be that we discover things about them we never knew? What if, out of that stillness, emerged a happier and more confident, more capable person? Can you trust your child (and yourself) to survive and thrive in open ended, unfilled time?

Let me share with you some of the things that come out of a place of boredom in our home:

  • Old toys rediscovered– that crayon maker that has been sitting on the shelf for months, the play dough that sits unplayed with on the shelf, the nerf guns in the corner, the legos shoved in a box under the sofa, the American Girl dolls who have been so lonely during the school year, the whittling knife and wood under the bed, the silly putty, the slime, the wooden blocks, the scooters, the bikes, etc.
  • New skills are discovered– a love for cooking, a new musical instrument, painting, drawing, woodworking, fort building, modeling clay, jewelry making, house cleaning (for real.. I have one that loves to clean)
  • Honing the skills of observation– I have a child that has discovered that she loves to write observation journals. She has books she has made about the seasons, the trees in our yard, animals, people, family. All she needed was time and access to paper and pencils.
  • Digital music composition. My oldest saved his money and bought an iPad. he uses a digital keyboard and the Garage Band app on the iPad to compose.
  • Make Believe– oh the games these kids come up with! I have had prairie girls run through my house on the hunt for bears or preparing for the next blizzard. I have had ninjas appear in the corners. They challenge each other to complete tasks without being seen. I have pirates searching for buried treasure. I have walked in on chefs in the Master Chef kitchen being critiqued by Gordon Ramsey. My kids have always been gifted at coming up with games wherever they are.
  • Hide and Seek
  • Board games come out that haven’t been played in months
  • Drawing
  • Playing in the sprinkler
  • Homemade Obstacle Courses/ American Ninja Warrior Training
  • A child finds out they actually enjoy reading and fall in love with some amazing books and characters. My oldest daughter has been grieving over finishing the book, The Wizard of Oz. She is reading it again just so she can spend time with her favorite characters.
  • New business ventures are created. One child of mine has developed her own babysitter’s club. She intends to host a mother’s morning out at our home a couple of times this summer.
  • Risks are taken– learning to skateboard and creating ramps and obstacles to conquer.
  • Ping pong is played.
  • Photo Albums are looked through while memories are shared.

My kids do have screen time, but they do not have free, all day access. They have periods of time when they are responsible for how they fill their time. Does it get loud and energetic sometimes?…yes! Do I have to put an end to the play because the energy level is so high and I see disaster coming?… yes… absolutely. We have a large playroom in our basement. We have a large yard with plenty of room to explore and shade in sunny days. Even still… they like to be in the living room upstairs or in the kitchen or in my bedroom… so sometimes I have to redirect the play.

My encouragement to you this summer is to not try to bust the boredom. Do not jump to fill the time. Let your kids sit with the tension for a little while. Feel the freedom of not entertaining your child 24/7. Let them go and see what comes of it.

Have you experienced this freedom? What are some things that came out of boredom in your home? Comment below and share your story?

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