Summer is right around the corner. If you have kids, you’ve likely started thinking about various camps and activities to keep them busy not bored. But before you start filling up the schedule, we encourage you to pause and consider how much planning (and money and stress) needs to go into packing their days.
All parents want to avoid the inevitable summertime wail coming from their kids’ rooms of “there’s nothing to do.” However, we’re here to tell you that maybe there’s something to welcoming a little whining. Forcing your kids to creatively consider how to fill their time instead of always having it scheduled out for them could be a good thing! And no, this doesn’t mean endless, unmonitored screentime either.
Instead, ask your kids to get outside. Encourage them to activate their imagination, and tap into some of the fun that YOU likely enjoyed as a child, before our worlds were so infiltrated with technology.
The Benefits of Boredom
Studies show that allowing yourself to get bored and encouraging your mind to wander increases your creativity and problem-solving skills. It also prepares us for those times when other situations occur in life when you find yourself twiddling your thumbs with nothing to do. Standing in lines, for instance, is a part of life. And if your kiddos think they must always be entertained, they’re going to have an awfully hard time being patient.
When your child doesn’t have their time structured and scheduled out for them, they’re encouraged to take ownership of their actions. They’ll love feeling independent as they get to decide the afternoon’s agenda. If you find your kiddo has a hard time coming up with ideas work together to brainstorm a list of parent-approved ways to spend their day. For instance:
- Use blankets, chairs, and pillows to create the ultimate hideout or reading nook.
- Set up an obstacle course in the backyard. Read about the bonus benefits they’ll experience from spending time in nature, here.
- Find a fun new recipe to try together. (Here are some of our favorite easy-to-make breakfast ideas).
- Build a zoo out of blocks, Legos™, and toy animals.
- Gather food from the pantry to recreate a grocery store. Work on math skills as they play shopkeeper.
- Get crafty by creating a handy art cart that they can easily access. Stock it with paints, markers, stickers, and more!
For the little ones, put pictures next to the ideas so that they can reference the list you created together all on their own. Looking for more ideas geared toward teens? Click here. With a robust list ready, you’ll stay ahead of their complaints and be prepared with fun ideas when boredom comes to call.
Get Their Brains Buzzing
During their creative play, your child will inevitably become frustrated at some point. Perhaps they burned the brownies or their fort just won’t stay together. On a smaller scale, these situations once again mimic challenges they may experience as they grow up. Model healthy ways of reacting as you problem solve together. This is an opportunity to encourage grit and resilience as they persevere through their challenges. Encourage them to make a plan, organize their materials, and strategize a new way of mapping out their fort, mixing their ingredients, etc.
As parents, we burn ourselves out trying to ensure our kiddos are happy every second of every day. Let’s be honest—it’s exhausting. The more you teach your child that’s it’s okay to be bored and that they are capable of coming up with creative activities to fill their time, the more independent they’ll become. Autonomy is an essential skill for them to acquire as they grow up, and it also frees you up to tackle your own summertime wish list. A win-win!
Allowing kids the freedom to think of ways to entertain themselves, even if their ideas fail, is a good thing! Pushing through mistakes is a part of developing a growth mindset in kids. Read more about this topic, here.