Raising kids is a 24-7-365 commitment. Yes, the years pass quickly, but even still, when you add it all up, that’s A LOT of time. As a parent, it’s not my job to fill all of those hours with nonstop entertainment. Sometimes I’m perfectly fine with my kids being bored.
In fact, I actually feel good about it.
Here’s why I’m unapologetic when I hear “But I’m borrrrrrrrrred…” from one of my little cherubs.
Life’s Not Always Fun – Boredom is real
Life is wonderful! There are so many amazing things in this world and I can’t wait to see my kids experience them.
Buuuuuuuut life is also boring at times. It’s not all bells, whistles, and flashing lights.
There’s school, there’s work, and while sometimes those things are fun, there will be plenty of times they are not.
Paying bills, buying groceries, cooking dinner–none of those top the list of entertaining activities either, but they’re still pretty essential tasks. Sometimes we have to put aside the fun and get things done. I don’t feel bad teaching this lesson to my kids.
Mom Hates Pretend Play And That’s Why They Have Siblings
I hate “playing pretend.” Hate hate hate.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll do it because I love my kids, but while I’m playing Transformers for the 5,000th time, I’m definitely wondering how much longer until it’s over. By the tenth round of Darth Vader versus Luke Skywalker, I’m probably fantasizing about doing laundry or any other mundane household chore that awaits me.
I have three kids. It’s good for them to play together, to use their imaginations together, to battle for the galaxy together.
And by together, I mean together without me.
Giving kids space to create their own fun, to work cooperatively together, to resolve their disagreements independently is healthy. As an added bonus, it also keeps me from losing my mind.
If you have an only-child, don’t worry–you can get in on this (or should I say out of this?) too! Studies show imaginary friends are good for kids, so perhaps your child can play house or superheroes with their imaginary buddies.
My Kids Are Bored Because Mom Has Sh*t To Do
Being a mom is the most important role I’ll ever have, but it’s not the only role I have.
I’m a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, an employee –and the list goes on. Each of these things comes with a unique set of demands on my time and attention. If I am acting as my kids’ nonstop personal butler of entertainment, it’s impossible to manage these other roles.
I have no problem prioritizing my kids; I am their mother, after all. Still, it’s not healthy for my world to completely revolve around them. That’s a recipe for an overwhelmed mom and a self-centered kid. It may seem relatively harmless in the early years, but as your child grows, that “everything and everyone exists for my enjoyment” attitude will be a disservice to everyone.
Most Importantly: Kids Being Bored Is Good For Them
Studies actually point to the benefits of kids being bored and, just as important, the harm in over-parenting and over-scheduling.
Creativity and ingenuity thrive when kids are bored. If we never give kids the time and space to experience boredom, we deprive them of opportunities to strengthen their imagination (boredom is good for the brain!). If we’re constantly shuffling them to the next activity or handing them a new screen, we limit their chances to sharpen their attention and focus.
Like any other exercise or skill, practice makes perfect; kids need to flex their own creative muscles. Don’t fall into the trap of believing it’s your job to fill every waking moment with fun activities. That’s too much pressure for any parent, and the research shows it can actually do more harm than good.
I love my kids with every fiber of my being. I love seeing them happy and I love doing things with and for them. We do play games, go to fun places, and have a great time. I know that they are young for such a short period of time. Parents just want to make the best of these early years.
But the argument runs the other way too: our kids are young for such a short period of time. I want to raise children who are prepared when they get to adulthood. With that in mind, boredom is a gift I give to them.
It’s a gift that will serve them far better than any toy.
This article originally appeared on That’s Inappropriate.
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