I’m sure many of Us Parents have heard that dreadful saying ‘I’m bored!’ since the children have been off school, over the past week or so?
The school summer holidays pose a real challenge for most of us, as we compile packed itineraries, lists and mind maps of where to go and what to do, to entertain our childrens endless wants and desires.
As a child, I loved nothing more than our Sunday walk through the forest or hike up our local mountain. We did it every Sunday without fail but my brother and I never bored of it, in fact all week we look forward to it.
Granted we only had 3 TV channels back then when I was a child, where children’s programmes were only aired for an hour at lunchtime. And we didn’t have computers or phones then, so I never felt as though I was missing out on my screen time. Walking up a mountain or playing tag with the other children in our street was our entertainment.
Often, I hear ‘It’s boring we’ve been here before.’ when I take children out somewhere. As though every trip should be somewhere new and exciting. I fear, Children are just losing their ability to entertain themselves and have fun naturally these days.
And childrens play places are cashing in at our expense. When I was a child a trip to the farm or zoo was a once a year treat, we were lucky to get a bag of sweets or a pencil with a rubber from the gift shop at the end of our visit. Now children expect expensive toys at the end of every day out. It’s not our childrens fault these venues strategically place the gift shop full of toys, at the end of an attraction where we must walk our children through to leave.
But the result is, as parents, we no longer feel a fun family day out is good enough, when our children are clutching onto a fifty-pound toy, demanding they want it!
We know that we can get the same toy half the price from the supermarket, but we also know, all our children will remember is how horrible we were for denying them that toy, not all the fun we had having a picnic next to the peacocks!
Its vital children have the chance to relax and unwind, this doesn’t mean sleeping. Stimulation overload is a very real problem facing our children, affecting their mental health. Encouraging them to listen to relaxing music, read a book or comic and take time to daydream is vital. Most children today see this as being bored but there’s a lot of benefits to boredom.
As parents we are so busy in our own lives, we feel guilty when we are not providing busyness for our children, but what we all need and crave is time out from this busyness. One Monday morning about twelve years ago, I remember asking a parent how her weekend had been, here’s how she replied.
‘Friday after school I took the children to football and gymnastics, then Saturday morning they had karate, and in the afternoon, I took them swimming at that new pool with all the big slides, but they got bored after half hour so we ended up in the park. But then they had worked up an appetite so we went for a burger, then onto the cinema. I think they are getting too old for animated films now though, as they soon got bored mid- way and all they did was fight with one another then all evening. Then You’ll never guess what?’One Busy Mum!
I shook my head in disbelief thinking, what there’s more?
As she continued
‘Sunday, I found out they had a big homework project that took most of the day up, I’m just so tired, I can’t wait to get back to work today!’One TIRED MUM!
Wow, Wow, Wow!
All that nonstop entertainment, time and expense and at the end of the day none of it made them happy.
What would I wonder?
Too much can be just as bad as not enough. This conversation took place many years ago but over the years I’ve found, children are becoming a part of ‘The What Next Generation?’ of dissatisfied children. An enjoyable picnic in the park is just never enough. Children seem to be asking their parents ‘what’s next?’ before they have even finished doing what they are currently doing.
Leaving most of us worn out, skint and frazzled by the end of the day!
There’s not much left to the imagination anymore, and the absence of a TV, mobile phone or computer, can make our children feel bored. Unfortunately, being constantly occupied with people or electronic things, prevents contemplation and creativity.
Children are so used to this type of stimulation they cannot play alone or even with each other anymore, they just don’t know how to occupy themselves without these props, so they say they are bored. I have an answer for that; ‘Only boring people get bored.’
There’s more for children to do today, than any other time in history. There’s so much choice, variety, toys, opportunities, and experiences, it’s hard to believe that the word bored still exists in the English language.
Back in the Depression and Wartime days, children really did have nothing to play with, nowhere to go and little to do, yet they never seemed to get bored like the children of today do. They had no other option, they had to amuse themselves and they knew how to play and have fun naturally.
My children learnt early on, never to utter those words ‘I’m bored.’ As soon as they did, they knew I would find them a list of things to occupy them, such as cleaning jobs or homework.
On hearing what I had to offer to alleviate their boredom, they suddenly remembered they had lots to be getting on with and got on with it!
Ironically, we help alleviate boredom, by allowing them to become bored. This means occasionally removing toys and electronics. This is not a punishment, so to prove that to them, we have to join them in this practice too.
This is probably something we will struggle with more than our children; I mean can you actually imagine a day without your phone, computer or TV?
We’d fall so behind on the soaps, social media, and junk email!
Boredom would eventually disappear, however, and our children would come to realise all there is naturally around them. They may struggle at first to find things to do, but given the alternative, such as cleaning their bedroom, they would soon find something to do which is more fun.
What could you be doing that’s more fun instead?
Subscribe below to find out more and receive our Free Childcare Newsletters