At some point over the school holidays I will have bored kids telling me that “I don’t know what to do”. And you know what? That is completely fine with me. I have learnt it is so easy to get caught in the run around trap with kids. Whilst trying to fit everything in that we think as parents they need (and looking around at what other children are doing), we can actually end up overstimulating and exhausting our kids. I can then also set up expectations that they must be entertained and occupied all the time. My kids need time to rest, potter and investigate in their own environment.
They also need to get BORED. It is only when they get bored will they seek out new interests, design new games of their own and maybe even participate in the household activities that mum and dad are doing.
Individual temperaments have a huge impact on how easily kids get bored. I have never heard “I don’t know what to do” from a couple of my kids, but have had heard it dozens of times from a couple of the others. Over the holidays I plan for a mix of activities with the kids that include:
- Activities away from home
- At home planned activities
- Unstructured time
Allowing the children to have unstructured time where they “don’t have anything to do” can lead to really positive results. (Although children who have no parental attention and who are never occupied will most likely find negative ways to expend their energy.)
It can sometimes take the kids a while to work out what to do, but they get their in the end. Last school holidays for one child who can often find it hard to decide what to do, I had him write up a list of all the things he likes to do. We printed it out and stuck it on the notice board so he could refer to it when he was at a loose end which worked really well for him.
As tempting as it can be, I need to remember as the parent when they come to be complaining of nothing to do, I do not need to fill this vacuum with suggestions or parental led activities. My kids need time to be restful and time to think for themselves about how they can occupy their time.
Do you let your kids get bored?
Nicole Avery is the master organiser behind the popular parenting blog Planning With Kids, where she shares tips and tricks to organising the chaos of family life.