4 07/03/2012 parenting Kids

Driven by boredom

Was reading a recent article about our incessant need to be busy or at least claim to be busy (crazy busy!) and how some transfer this anxiety about idle time to their kids, turning all their potential spare time into blocks of preprogrammed time. Our household suffers from over programming. We overextend ourselves and constantly feel harried and then complain about it, just like this article suggests.

I think about the summers of my youth and how one, maybe two weeks were planned and the rest was just gathered locally with other wayward kids and farting around the neighbourhood.  Did we get into trouble? A little bit, but we survived the biking too fast skinned knees and magnifying glass burns on our hands just fine. Idle time was not dangerous; it was an opportunity to create games out of nothing, adventures out of pointed sticks and garbage can lids.

Gang of cousins (and aunts and uncles) not bored at cottage this past weekend

gang.jpgNow I don’t want to get all when I was your age on my kids, but I do not see the same inspired creativity out of potential boredom strategy developing.  And to be honest, they have about two separate weeks all summer where we don’t have them in some sort of stimulation bucket, whether it be day camp or weeks away with mine or Steph’s parents – so we can assume the fear of idle time responsibility.

This week is one of those weeks where they have nothing scheduled.  Wanted to bridge the gap from structured school to structured programs with one week of potential all day, pajama wearing or sweaty bike rides, or, hopefully, some sort of game or adventure where one of them is a robot and one of them is a shark named Balthazar.

Are your kids over-programmed in the summer or do you allot some weeks of just plain boring old fun?


  • Erin Little

    I made myself a rule when they got old enough to start being scheduled. Only one activity at a time. So now we are in soccer and that’s it. And we’re leaving for vacation and the soccer field will have to do with out us. Fall will bring swimming lessons only. Winter x-country skiing.
    Maybe it’s the twin thing but my girls play together all day long and are rarely bored. I feel pretty blessed. I might pull out some books or board games sometimes. We go to the beach and the cottage for part of the summer. I have some math stuff I haven’t used yet (but plan to).
    That’s about it.

  • Sonya

    I can understand why some parents need to put their kids in camp all summer especially if they work. Since I work from home we have options. Our kids are in 3 weeks of camp each. We enjoy waking up without the need to rush, and do whatever the day brings. We plan a couple outings each week, do some art, read, math stuff and they play together (surprisingly) and go to the local pool. Of course, time with friends too. We’ve always done that and they’ve never asked to do more camps. For the past few days any down time they’ve had has been filled with Lego building and planning out our menu for the next day. I’m sure eventually they will hit me with “I’m bored”.

  • Kath

    I used to put my kids in day camps nearly all summer long, because I was a WAHM and needed the protected daytime hours to get the work in. But now that I’m back teaching and summer is my time off too, I have honoured their desire to be in no camps whatsoever for the past two summers (it works out to be a big money-saving strategy, too). My kids are pretty good at making big messes out of idle time (that’s how I see their imaginary worlds as a parent) but sometimes the burden to entertain them falls to me. My new response to “I’m bored” is a carefree “that’s too bad!” I made it very clear to them that if they refused to join any programs, it would not be my job to be Julie McCoy, and they would be on their own for finding boredom-busting activities. It doesn’t work 100% of the time, but the more I reinforce it, the more resourceful they become at finding ways to fill the empty, unprogrammed hours.
    Parenting! Not a job for second-guessers 😉

  • Julie

    i picked nits out of my eldest’s hair for 4 hours today. bring on the boredom! 🙂

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