Monday, February 9, 2015

on boredom

for a good portion of my childhood we didn't have a television. i remember, at the time, my mother told us it was because it was broken but i'm not entirely sure that is true. whatever the reason, we were left with plenty of time after school and on weekends to do chores, to play with each other outside, to read books, to do art projects. and i also remember a lot of day dreaming. i consider the time i had to simply be as invaluable to my inner dream life and creativity.

fast forward to now…my six year old has just learned the phrase "i'm bored." at first i would become cross when she said it. but why was i reacting so strongly? when i would hear "i'm bored" i would feel defensive and guilty for not giving her more. more stimulus, more engagement, more enrichment. 

i have pondered why these new words have affected me so and realize that it's not up to me to plant ideas in her. i can't make her creative or fuel her imagination. that is her journey. it is also very much my journey as a parent. 

boredom can be a creative state if we, as parents, are not afraid of it. if we are constantly needing a diversion or distraction than we are more likely to offer that to our children. imaginative play is the cure for boredom in a young child. finding things that will also allow our brains that much needed down time is as critical for us as it is for them. consciously choosing how we will spend our time rather than reinforcing bad habits. instead of picking up the phone, picking up a book. instead of turning on the television, organizing the bathroom. do something that will ultimately make you happier. i'm saying this as much (if not more) to myself than the you out there. 

i have been trying to model slowness and time for reflection each afternoon. the mornings are rushed during the week and i try to offer an antidote to that in the afternoons. by making sure the girls' things are organized, i can illuminate the possibilities that surround them at home. when they can truly feel me there, even if i'm doing something else, than they can feel secure to explore with time in the garden, in the dirt, picking and arranging flowers. time listening to records with each other. time spent simply dreaming and singing and making up stories and acting out the things that have happened to them through play. there must be time each day to drink in slowness while i am around doing my chores or a quiet activity such as reading near them. 

boredom can be an uncomfortable state but it also represents curiosity, togetherness, separateness, unexpected creativity, reflection, and harmony. most of all, it can be a great opportunity. 

lovely tent and stool from the wilderness collection, a collaboration by kalon studios & nico nico


  1. Whenever my kids say "bored", I always think I've done them a favor. Boredom is an invitation to get creative!

  2. Loved this. I love when G is bored. ;)

  3. A very thoughtful post! I agree that boredom is just an opportunity to dig deep and find something interesting to do. My children know that if they mention they are bored, I'll likely suggest reading a book or pulling out a board game. My challenge is to more actively participate in those activities with them instead of doing "my thing" while they do theirs.

  4. When my boys were growing up, if one of them said "I'm bored", I immediately said "Wonderful! Now you're REALLY going to dream up some fun." And I simply left it at that. It was all the incentive they needed to get their creative juices flowing!

  5. We only allow screen time on the weekends, and I've noticed that the most joyous times our 3 kids have together are always on weekdays, not long after someone has made the "boredom" declaration.

  6. Growing up, when my sister and I told our mom that we were bored, she always replied, "You're only as bored as you make yourself."

    Words that I still live by!