Why I’m Letting My Kids Be Bored This Summer

As we finish up the last few weeks of school, our thoughts are swirling with summer activities for kids. Moms chat with each other about all the summer programs that are available. Sports clinics, sleep away and day camps, swimming teams , baseball leagues and a ton of other opportunities are calling our kids’ names. In today’s world, there a MILLION and ONE ways to keep our kids busy all summer long. These summer opportunities sound amazing! Who wouldn’t want to spend a week learning about how to cook fun meals, have the chance to create art, sing and dance, or be a better hitter?! We have the opportunity to keep our kids programmed every day of the summer! 

Summer Activities for Kids

I’ll admit that as my kids have gotten older, I get a little nervous about how I am going to “entertain” them all summer. However, might I be missing the boat here when I think that I need to be my kids’ “camp” director? Whatever happened to a good old-fashioned summer with no plans?!  I’m starting to think that maybe I need to re-frame my “role” in my kids summer. Perhaps, I should let them take the driver’s seat and I can be more of a passenger to their journey!

My kids’ summer is already somewhat scheduled with swim team, Little League, Safety Town and a few other camps. (So, have no fear, my kids will have a fun & full summer). But maybe, those days and hours where they don’t have a full plate, it will be okay to let them figure out what to do.

How many of us adults had our parents directing our every move all summer? Not many of us and certainly not me. My summers were filled with being creative in the backyard with whatever resources we could find, looking for neighbors to play with and maybe watching a little more T.V. than is acceptable these days.

I’ll admit that this stance isn’t always easy for me as I love to come up with fun and creative things to do with my family. We’ve already created our summer fun list together and I can’t wait to get started on it. However, for all of those in between moments of summer, when there is no set plans, I’m thinking that it might be good idea to let my kids have a chance to taste freedom ( & boredom)!

Children Only Get One Childhood

The other day I was at the store and an employee asked my 5-year-old if he was in school. When I told her he was starting kindergarten in the Fall, she told him to enjoy his last carefree summer! That comment really hit home for me! How many free and easy summers do our children really have? Can we stop for a moment here and let that realization sink in…

Sooner than later, our kids will be busy with summer jobs, summer band camps and fall sports preparations! We might be able to count on less than two hands how many years kids truly have no major summer obligations!

Being Bored is Okay

As a child, I certainly remember having moments of boredom. But I survived–and it was in those moments that some of my best activities for play were born! For parents, it is so easy to want to solve our kids problems which includes when they come to us complaining about being bored! Seriously, as a mom in the summer, nothing is worse than hearing our kids yell “I’m BORED!”

We have to push past our own feelings of discomfort and perhaps, annoyance, and let kids solve the boredom blues! This might mean not offering up a solution when our child comes to us wondering what to do. Even though we might have a few ideas, is it better in the long-term to encourage our kids to come up with their own?

Allow Kids to Make Their Own Rules of the Game

It is necessary to fight against today’s norm of directing every move of our kids lives–especially their free time opportunities! Kids have very few choices in their schedules when you factor in school, homework and extracurricular activities. They don’t get to pick when and where they have to go. Our kids are so scheduled that they are so limited in their opportunities to be creative and come up with their own ideas of play. Unfortunately, then when kids are given a few minutes to be alone they have no idea what to do!

Why not let them make choices on what they want to do with their free time. This might be a bit foreign to kids at the beginning. But kids are adaptable and creative individuals! When left to their own devices, they can and will come up with fun things to do.

Summer of Balance

So, while I am not suggesting we abandon all of the plans we have already made for our kids this summer, I am suggesting that we let our kids experience that foreign word called BOREDOM! I’m encouraging parents to consider NOT scheduling every minute of the summer.  Perhaps letting the kids decide the plans for the day. Or maybe even letting the kids come up with a summer fun list completely on their own. As a mom who loves coming up with fun things to do with my kids, this might take a little bit of self-control for me!

But, from my own personal experiences as a kid,  I do know that being bored is OK. I am thankful that I was given the chance to be bored. As a result,  I want my children to have that opportunity that I was given.

Why Kids Need to Be Bored #kids #parenting #summertime #summeractivitiesforkids

 

This post was originally shared on Northeast Ohio Parent Magazine.

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32 Comments

  1. May 29, 2018 / 8:10 am

    I completely agree, whenever I let my twins “be bored” together they come up with the cutest little games and play so well together! It’s good to let them be creative and think for themselves occasionally! Thanks for sharing this!

    • Jaclyn
      Author
      May 30, 2018 / 9:34 pm

      So nice your twins have each other! Whenever my kids are stuck being bored I definitely notice they play a lot more with each other!

  2. May 29, 2018 / 8:11 am

    I find a lot of kids don’t really get a chance to just be bored or do nothing on days when they don’t have school or anything to do. There are some days on the weekend where we have no screen days where the kids aren’t allowed to play video games or watch YouTube on their iPads. On those days there imagination takes them to places it wouldn’t otherwise take them if they didn’t have a chance to be bored.

    • Jaclyn
      Author
      May 30, 2018 / 9:42 pm

      Yes to having days without screen time! My kids moods and ability to keep themselves entertained is totally different on the days they play video games or game pads!!

  3. May 29, 2018 / 8:13 am

    There is nothing wrong with letting kids just “be”. I think parenting today has gotten over-zealous with making sure kids are busy doing something every minute of the day. Maybe parents should start actually “parenting” and spend time with their kids rather than shuttling to other people to do their job. Haha! Can you tell i have an opinion on this? Mine are 21 & 22 and although they had a very active childhood, they are well rounded, empathetic people who know how to work hard, not bully and be respectful. And I contribute that to my hubby and I being involved and doing activities with them.

    • Jaclyn
      Author
      May 30, 2018 / 9:40 pm

      Thanks for your perspective! as a mom of twentysomething kids! It’s so hard when you are in the trenches of parenting to know what’s right. But I do think that allow our kids to be free is so beneficial to their well being!!

  4. May 29, 2018 / 9:35 am

    Great post. I know when I was growing up, I found things to do most of the time to keep myself occupied. It’s good for kid’s imaginations!!!

    -Lauren

    • Jaclyn
      Author
      May 30, 2018 / 9:39 pm

      So many positive outcomes to experiencing a little boredom!

  5. May 29, 2018 / 10:06 am

    Totally on board with this idea; kids can be so creative when left to their own devices (or, in this case, without any devices, haha).

    I think adults – myself included – could afford to get a little bored too! 😉

    • Jaclyn Musselman
      Author
      May 29, 2018 / 10:39 am

      Agree—adults need to be bored too!!

  6. May 29, 2018 / 11:36 am

    I really want to not have to plan every free day we have this summer. I want them to just go to the pool and the library and that’s it!

    • Jaclyn
      Author
      May 30, 2018 / 9:38 pm

      Yes…we could also use a break from our scheduled lives!

    • Jaclyn
      Author
      May 30, 2018 / 9:37 pm

      Yes–even adults could use a little boredom:)

  7. May 29, 2018 / 12:03 pm

    Your suggestions are similar to what my parents did for us growing up. I feel like the times of “boredom” always sparked our creativity, and most of the time we would all end up playing outside. I am excited to be able to allow my son to use his creative mind as he is growing up, rather than trying to schedule everything out for him! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic!

    • Jaclyn
      Author
      May 30, 2018 / 9:36 pm

      Thanks Courtney! I think most of us grew up this way but society has trended more recently into scheduling our every kids move! It takes a conscious effort to allow our kids the chance to be free (and bored!)

  8. May 29, 2018 / 1:58 pm

    I’m with you! We have a few trips planned and my girls have camp. But when we don’t have an already scheduled activity, then we take the days as they come. Giving our kids the freedom to do nothing is important too.

    • Jaclyn
      Author
      May 30, 2018 / 9:44 pm

      I think it’s a perfect balance–to have a few fun planned summer activities mixed in with some downtime/unscheduled days!

  9. May 29, 2018 / 2:11 pm

    I love this post!! I feel the same way and often think about this stuff too. I for sure survived and am thankful for having to be bored and create my own fun and entertain myself because it’s helped as an adult.

    • Jaclyn
      Author
      May 30, 2018 / 9:45 pm

      It’s a different world than when we were kids and our parents didn’t over schedule us. Now it’s so easy as parents to want to provide our kids with all of the opportunities. Which means our schedules are jam packed. So more than ever, we need to allow our kids the chance to have their own time!

  10. May 29, 2018 / 4:23 pm

    Amen- our most bored moments growing up ended up being the most fun and the special times I remember

    • Jaclyn
      Author
      May 30, 2018 / 9:46 pm

      Right? Those are truly the experiences I remember from my childhood!

  11. May 29, 2018 / 4:34 pm

    Love everything about this! I’m not a parent yet, but I work with kids and think this is a great idea!

    • Jaclyn
      Author
      May 30, 2018 / 9:46 pm

      Thanks Lara. It’s a different world than when we were all kids!

  12. May 30, 2018 / 4:13 am

    So true! I find that when I let my son be bored, he is more creative and comes up with great ways to stay busy.

    • Jaclyn
      Author
      May 30, 2018 / 9:47 pm

      Yes! Sometimes my kids complain but when I step away and let them solve their boredom blues they get SO CREATIVE!

  13. May 30, 2018 / 12:38 pm

    I love this idea! Kids get creative when they’re bored. It is also a good way for them to learn how to manage their down time.

    • Jaclyn
      Author
      May 30, 2018 / 9:20 pm

      Yes–great life lesson–in a time when even adults have little downtime it’s good to learn how to manage!

  14. May 30, 2018 / 4:04 pm

    Good advice, I don’t think it’s a bad thing for kids to get bored and have to amuse themselves once in a while!

    • Jaclyn
      Author
      May 30, 2018 / 9:15 pm

      Yes–kids and even adults could use a little boredom every now and then!

  15. May 30, 2018 / 10:47 pm

    I am all about letting kids be bored. After more than a decade in the classroom, I saw time and time again that children are losing their ability to wait, to problem solve, and to be creative. Like you, I sometimes have a hard time letting go of that control though. I liked your idea about letting them plan their own summer fun list. I’ve never asked my children. I just assumed. I’d be curious to hear what they would suggest.

  16. June 1, 2018 / 5:48 pm

    Yes! I’m planning to let my boys have as free a summer as possible, just biking around and going to the lake. I think so many kids are over-scheduled and don’t have the freedom to just do what they want.

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