… And why that’s a good thing. Obviously Kiddley is a blog about doing stuff, but anyone who knows me at all knows I am a big, big proponent of doing as little as possible and trying not to feel guilty about it (not always successfully). My kids will be the first to tell you that we could be doing a whole lot more when it comes to crafts, and hikes and classes and orchestrated movie nights but instead there are days and days when we will do nothing much at all.
When I say nothing, I mean we have a house full of books, Playmobil and drawing paper. There are spontaneous play dates. There is netflix and many computer games – but limits on screen time. There is a yard with a swing, sandbox and a hose and a bag of water balloons. We drive to the lake, or the pool or the park. There are family excursions to the grocery store and a few compulsory setting-the-table-like chores. It’s hardly “nothing”. But it’s usually simple, mostly cheap and mostly self-directed fun. And there are still gaping hours of “Mum, I’m bored!”.
And this (while incredibly annoying after I’ve heard it 6 times in fifteen minutes), you might agree, could be seen as an incredibly important part of childhood.
Let’s ease into this idea gently:
While not exactly an article about doing nothing, The Huffington Post highlighted The Incredible List of 10 Steps to Create a Magical Summer for Kids by Maggie M. Ethridge which I really like because none of the suggestions are terribly overwhelming and she emphasises just doing the simple stuff. Her list includes “Find water. Enter. Repeat.”, “Surround them with books” and “Do nothing”.
The Guardian ran School’s out for summer. Is it time to give kids a break? :
“Some educators believe we should allow kids to play freely – and allow them to be bored and figure out what to do with that boredom. They believe there is something to be said for balancing the knowledge children acquire 10 months of the year with some downtime to help their minds relax and function better come September.”
This article is a great balanced look at unscheduled time while keeping in mind the need to make sure kids are active and healthy. It also addresses the realities of a family’s need to have parents working over the long summer months and how this impacts on a child’s summer. It could be argued that freedom of time is a middle-class choice and a luxury.
When it comes to letting your kids do nothing and not feeling too guilty about it, many experts agree. Children should be allowed to get bored, expert says:
“Dr Teresa Belton told the BBC cultural expectations that children should be constantly active could hamper the development of their imagination”
Parents often watch boredom take the form of sibling bickering, antisocial screen-time and destructive craziness, just as whole societies see boredom leading to less than ideal behaviour, but Is boredom vital to the way we work and the way in which we create?
“Britain is the fourth most-bored nation in Europe and boredom is blamed for everything from rising crime rates to this year’s riots… [but] There is a growing argument among academics, sociologists and scientists that boredom is actually beneficial to our thought processes, creativity, society and even the economy. So beneficial in fact, that we should actively defend it against the modern onslaught of entertainment.”
There’s good advice in there for us adults too. It’s so much easier to check Facebook or Feedly or Twitter than to do nothing. But nothing is sometimes where the magic happens. Why Boredom Is Good for Your Creativity from 99u will give you some tips to get bored.