“Mom . . . I’m Bored!” Embrace the Summertime Blues

Summertime: when the livin’ is easy . . . except when it’s not.

Holiday celebrations, hosting barbeques and picnics, finding child care, taking kids to their various enrichment activities, swimming lessons, road trips, family reunions, and more. What a wonderful time of year! But with all that joy and all those fun activities we can get stressed from all the running around. Our children can be over-stimulated and under-rested. And over stimulation and sleep deprivation can lead to behavioral and developmental problems.

Summer has changed a lot in a generation. In the 80s the days were filled with running around the neighborhood in bathing suits and cut-off shorts, chasing the distant jingle of the ice-cream truck, dashing through sprinklers, and playing pick-up games of Kick the Can. And don’t forget laying out in the backyard with tanning oil slathered all over you. Some things have changed for the better (thank you sunscreen!) but other things seem a bit . . . much.

With all the wonderful opportunities and activities and year-round schools that we have now, there is one thing oftentimes missing from our children’s lives: BOREDOM.

Did you know that some child psycholgists say that boredom is good for our children?

Yes, it’s true. Boredom is actually a benefit, and not something to be avoided.

Boredom has been proven to promote creativity, problem-solving, and independence. Boredom may be just the stimulus that your children need this summer. Yes, all those enriching camps and lessons are wonderful. And yes, those sanity-saving screens are convenient and easy to hand to our children when we need a few minutes to ourselves.

However, if we schedule every minute of the day and fill the leisure minutes with mind-numbing online content, we are doing our children a disservice. They need to be bored in order to have the time to tinker, time to think, and time to explore. Boredom helps them learn self-regulation. It provides them opportunities for conflict resolution (sibling rivalry anyone?). It gives them a chance to be in charge of themselves and flex those developing independence muscles.

It is HARD at first to shed the assumption that we need to be full-time entertainment directors for our kids. And if we don’t provide the fun and refuse to hand over a screen, that’s even harder. At first. But if you can cope with the complaining and bickering for a few minutes, it won’t take long before you’ll see your kiddos find something to make or break or solve or climb.

So lean in to the summertime blues. Let your kids be bored. It’s good for them. It’s good for you.

“Aaah, summer – that long anticipated stretch of lazy, lingering days, free of responsibility and rife with possibility. It’s a time to hunt for insects, master handstands, practice swimming strokes, conquer trees, explore nooks and crannies, and make new friends.”
~Darell Hammond

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