Sunday, January 18, 2015

5 Reasons to Let Your Kids be Bored (Sometimes)

“You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”  ~ Maya Angelou

Over winter break, we went ice skating, to the zoo, on a trip to San Diego, to the beach several times, on a two-day Disneyland trip, and had a small family birthday party for my son. It was all so much fun. Like most people, we were busy during the holidays.  However, there were also a few days here and there, where we didn’t do anything except explore in the backyard, read books, ride bikes, and color.  

Even though I enjoy reading and playing with my kids,  I don’t want to entertain them all day long or spend a bunch of money on never-ending structured activities.  Here are a few reasons why I think it’s good to let your kids be bored, sometimes. 

Tweet: A few reasons to let your kids be #bored via @MelissaMatters1 

Adult-Free Fun

I enjoy a good game of tag. However, sometimes I like watching without participating.  Kids don’t need an adult hovering over them every second of the day.   While my young children still need plenty of supervision, I find great enjoyment watching my kids interact from the “sidelines.”

Let Your Imagination Run Wild

When kids are not watching television, playing video games or being entertained, they have to think.  These are great ways to get those creative juices flowing.  Give your kids a cardboard box and have them turn it into a car, house, or even just decorate it. Magnifying glasses are a fun way to get kids outside and look for insects. Recently my daughter has become interested in making drawings to hang up around the house. My son has taken to playing with water using cups and spray bottles.  I doubt they would ever do these things if I didn’t give them the time to be “bored.”

Unstructured Play Time

Sometimes, I feel like my kids are the only ones who don’t have multiple extracurricular activities going on at once.  My kids have done swimming lessons, ballet, Mommy and Me gym class and soccer.  I’m not against camps or extracurricular activities.  In fact, I think it’s beneficial for kids to be involved in sports, music and other activities.   However, when kids are carted from one structured activity to the next,  it doesn’t leave them any time for unstructured play.   

Open Ended Activities

When your child says they are bored, this doesn’t mean you should ignore them.   Rather, give them some tools to help foster their creativity.  For instance, I have a craft box that has paint, crayons, stickers and some other odds and ends.  My daughter has a notebook that she writes stories in.  A few years ago, we gave away almost all of our battery operated toys in exchange for blocks, arts and crafts supplies and other opened ended activities.  After all, open ended activities can help spark your child’s imagination.   

If you’re looking for some open ended activities you can try:

Dixie Cups:  They are good for building towers.

Poms Poms:  Put a bunch of pom poms on the ground and let your kids pick them up with a spoon.  Poms poms are also great for sorting or using with crafts.

Fostering Independence

Allowing your child to be bored, sometimes, helps foster independence.  In other words, if the caregiver isn’t always entertaining the child, they have come up with activities on their own.  I think this will help them be more independent when they get older.

I’m not planning on throwing away my television or tablet anytime soon.  Even though I have plenty of outings and boredom busting activities planned, I imagine sometime soon my kids will say “I’m bored.” 

And that's okay!

What are some of your favorite open-ended activities for your kids?

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