I want my kid to be bored

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Yesterday afternoon, I picked up Wee One from “school” (it’s a little home daycare program he goes to two days a week. We love it. He loves it. They make muffins, or as Ethan likes to refer to them, “muppens.” Enough said) at 3pm, and for some reason I had a raging headache. One of those headaches where ALL YOU WANT TO DO IN THE WORLD is pop some Advil and lie down. But, alas, I have a wild monkey boar. Lying down is not an option, unless I want to be crawled on and have my belly button mercilessly poked.

We did head straight home. And I did pop the Advil. And then I put on comfy shorts that aren’t really shorts they’re a pair of men’s boxers whatever, and we proceeded to play. For three and a half hours. We played Legos. We played play doh. We played trains, lots and lots and lots of trains. We played try on Mommy’s high heels. We played Leo wants to pretend to go potty on the big potty game. And on and on and on. There was one point where Leo really really really wanted to press the “buppins” (buttons) on the microwave, which requires me to stand him up on the counter so he can reach. Probably against every parenting rulebook, but come on, they’re just buppins.

As Leo was pushing the buttons, and taking Daddy’s vitamin case and putting it in the microwave, and out again, and over and over and over, all I kept thinking (since ALL I COULD DO WAS THINK, I mean what else can you do while you’re standing there spotting your 2-year-old in his microwave gymnastics efforts) was that this stretch of time, staring me in the face like a yawning blank slate, was probably far better for my kid than if I had immediately whisked him off to a toddler activity. Frankly, he’s been pretty damn entertained since he was born. He’s been taken to more playgrounds and rec centers and toddler gym classes and aquariums than he could possibly count if he could count without skipping number 7. Usually, we go out in the afternoons, because if we don’t, he gets stir crazy (AND OH, DID HE GET STIR CRAZY YESTERDAY. By 6:30, when Ethan got home, Leo was running wildly through the house, dropping his toy wrench and hammer over the edge of the banister in spite of the ensuing time outs, and later, treating his bath like a water theme park.)

Everything in moderation, FOR SURE. Sometimes your kid needs to get his energy out at the playground, and sometimes he needs to be able to stay home and count his toes. I was happy that Leo found things to do for so many hours. And I’d like him to be confronted with more of that — more unstructured time where he’s forced to let his imagination go wild and come up with something fun to do. MORE BOREDOM. No, I don’t really actually want my kid to be BORED — but I don’t always want to hand him something to do. I want him to get jiggy with his creativity and make a fort out of spaghetti or something. Because I don’t think I actually put Leo in this situation quite enough. I think I’m guilty of finding shit for us to do because it’s easier for ME, but the fact is, the actual baby Einstein probably had about two toys, and I bet you anything one was a spoon and one was a piece of bark. So… bring on the boredom.

Do you like your kid(s) to be bored sometimes? Have you ever seen them come up with something refabulously awesome and creative because they had nothing else or better to do? Tell me about it below! xox

15 thoughts on “I want my kid to be bored

  1. Bravo to you for playing with him for 3 hrs even though you had a raging headache. If it were me, I’d probably hope that at some point, he’d ask to watch TV. Nevertheless, it is always more enjoyable to watch my son make up stories with his toys, play hide and seek, or sit and I draw for him. Bring on the child’s play!!!

    1. I should have mentioned that the headache DID go away pretty quickly — but by that point I just violently did NOT want to go out! And, yes, some Elmo was watched. But I was thrilled when my Elmo-obsessed kiddo seemed happy with the play doh and trains, too 🙂

  2. My son is currently untying my shoes and trying to retie them to one another. Check that — now he’s trying to knock over the oil heater — check that — now he’s climbing on my chair and complaining about being thirsty — check that — now he’s intensely interested in a package that the mailman just delivered. He’s never bored either. Come to think of it, I should go monitor this impending disaster….

  3. Love this! I had no one to play with sometimes (since you know who was always so busy and important and older than me) and I think the unstructured alone time made me more creative.

    1. And look at you now — UBER creative/talented/fabuloso!

      But in all seriousness: even if unstructured time doesn’t necessarily “make” your kid creative, it is good just from a resourcefulness perspective.

  4. Yes, yes, and YES. Amen. I believe in this so fiercely. And it’s hard to find these days, a parent who believes this. And sometimes it’s harder on us, I think, than if we had them programmed, because sometimes the bored kid whines, etc. And in that moment I always morph into my mother, and say, “Only boring people get bored.” xox

    1. I remember SO many days/hours/summers where I was bored out of my mind, and now when I think of those I only WISH I could have them back to do all the millions of creative things (or sleep, ha) I don’t have time for now!

      But I do think those hours were good for me. Of course, I want Leo to have some structure, but also some un-structure. And also some ice cream. Just because 🙂

      Thanks for commenting!!

  5. Three hours deserves are freaking medal. I’m serious.

    I’m with Lindsey–boredom is so important. My older kids get bored and immediately want to pick up an electronic gizmo (itouch, anything) and that’s why we need to have a gazillion rules in place for those things. Because they’re ALWAY CLAIMING THEY’RE BORED. It’s my least favorite word.

  6. You pose a really good question, Rebecca. Because, I think our boys are like a lot of boys – they need activity (not necessarily organized, but something physical) during their days; otherwise, they go bonkers (and destroy our homes, thereby driving us insane in the process). But, the question is whether we can give them space to exert such energy without giving them specific activities to direct that energy. I’m not sure we (being my husband and me, not you and me) do a great job of that. Gavin is in daycare 5 full days a week and we use that as an excuse to NOT have *stuff* in our home. In some ways, that’s great, because he is forced to creatively play with what’s in our house (which sometimes amounts to doing laundry and cooking with us, because he’s bored with his toys) … but, in so much as my husband and I realize the limits of our home, we do try to get out of the house on the weekends, for fear we will all die from boredom. You are giving me great food for thought …

    1. I know, it’s always such a balance. Sometimes, though, even just taking Leo out ANYWHERE is better than staying home for a prolonged period of time. Last night we did something we rarely do and went to eat dinner out (just a burger place, very casual) around 6:30. By 7:30, he was overtired and crying to go home. But since we’d been home all afternoon doing chores, we figured just getting the f OUT for a little while would be better than nothing. I think it’s something we have to just think about and adjust on a daily basis. I can tell when my kid is on the verge of going stir crazy. Or when he seems (amazingly) happy to just play choo choos.

  7. YES. On weekend days, which seem to go on forever, I like to just let the boys roam around our backyard for at least an hour or two in the morning and afternoon. We have a few balls and a playhouse out there, but mostly it’s just up to them to entertain themselves. I attempt to read the paper and drink coffee, in between stopping them from eating rocks or playing with the lawnmower. It’s pretty great. They get a lot of stimulation and structure at “school” so I try not to overschedule or direct them much at home (which also lets me read the paper and drink my coffee). I am lucky to have two at once, though, because they don’t bother me much during playtime, which I think they would if I just had one kid.

    Rainy days are awful though, because like you said, if they can’t get outside, they begin destroying the house and beating each other by about 10 am. That’s when we go to Home Depot and let them run around playing with the (waterless) toilets and (not childproofed but also empty) cabinets.

    1. HA – love the Home Depot idea. Brilliant.

      And I love that about your yard playtime. We have a yard now but not much in it for kids — I am thinking of getting some kind of play structure just to, well, give Leo something to work off of. xox

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