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My Kid’s Boredom is Not My Problem

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So school is out and my kids are bored. Not just “bored” they are “BOOOOOOOOOORED” (said while flopping over the edge of the couch). I know this can be the cue for some parents to sign them up for robotics camp or ship them off to Grandma’s or hand them a screen of some kind. Resist, Moms. We can get through this summer slump together, but it requires repeating what has become my summer mantra:

Their boredom is not my problem.

Boredom is not a problem to be solved at all. It’s an accomplishment in and of itself. It is the step right before innovation and discovery. When we jump in to “rescue” our kids from boredom, we’ve taken away their ability to develop an important life skill– entertaining yourself.

Mothers are not cruise ship entertainment directors. We are not responsible for making our children’s lives into some enchanting Disney musical. We need to keep them safe, fed, loved and then back up and let them be people who learn how to deal with life and the challenges it throws at them. Even the challenge of boredom. So here’s what to do when your kid gives you the “I’m BOOOOOOOORED!” whine.

Do. Nothing.

Keep doing what you were doing. Keep bopping through the house putting away the laundry. Go ahead and keep working on that email to your mom. Go out and water your plants. Let them sit there on the couch in their own boredom until their brain comes up with a solution.

Or, you can offer them some solutions. Solutions that combine empathy with practicality. “Oh no! You’re bored? Shoot. I know just how to fix that. Here are the 10 potatoes I need to have peeled for dinner tonight. Good luck!. . . Oh, did you come up with something else to do? Look at you! You weren’t that bored at all!”

In fact, I think the source of a lot of boredom is us. We do too much for our kids. They’ve got free time because they didn’t make their own breakfast or make their bed or empty the dishwasher. When you’ve got a certain amount of responsibilities in life, you come to appreciate the down moments. Isn’t that how our life works, too? How many times when your kids are whining about boredom do you think (or even SAY), “What I wouldn’t give to be bored right now.” We cherish boring times because we appreciate that break from our responsibilities.

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