Teaching My Son To Be Bored

When we started lockdown homeschooling, the blank page of a day gave me great anxiety. I’ve since learned it’s okay to leave pockets of time during the day as unstructured time for five-year-old T to be bored.

Research has shown that boredom supports a child’s healthy development, as it helps them build creativity, resilience, and independence.

I think back to my own childhood. My parents couldn’t afford expensive summer camps, so I got stuck at home while they worked and they warned me not to let others know they left their nine-year-old at home alone.

I have fond memories of those summers of boredom. I spent hours biking around the neighbourhood lost in a fantasy world. It was also when I discovered a love for creative writing and churned out many fan and original fiction.

T is a lucky child in that he has so many resources to help him fill his day. He has TV, online games and a wealth of toys.

I think back with amusement to the first week of homeschool schedule I created in March. Every minute was programmed. Activities were chunked into 15 minute segments. I remember after the first day I had to rethink my approach because I knew I was headed towards a burnout and meltdown.

Keeping up the learning this summer is important to us because I am worried about the summer brain drain. But we are using a looser schedule.

So long as we get 15 minutes each of reading, math and handwriting skills as well as ample outdoor exercise and swimming time in there, then we let T program the rest of the time.

We also try to make sure he doesn’t sit in front of the tablet playing games and watching videos too much, because I do want to limit the screentime for the sake of his emotional regulation and the effect on his eyes.

I take a deep breath when I see him wandering around the house, looking desperately bored and sad, because I know that eventually he will pick up one of his toys and start running around the house. Or he will go visit his fur siblings to torment them.

Some of my favourite parenting moments are the simplest ones. When I am working, cleaning or cooking – or when the hubby is gardening outside – and I notice T to the side, mumbling to himself and his imaginary friends. I eavesdrop on the conversations and his make believe world.

I know that it is during these moments that he is building his imagination, self sufficiency, ability to cope with being bored, and in the long run, his learning.

As T gets older, his schedule will be more programmed with extra curricular activities, like swimming lessons. I think these are equally important for a child to help them build skills and discipline – so long as it’s balanced with plenty of down time too.

But for now, I’m going to hang on to this moment of time, because I know it is fleeting, as boring as these wonderful moments may be.

12 thoughts on “Teaching My Son To Be Bored

  1. I hope you don’t mind!!! But I have nominated you for the ‘Sunshine Blogger Award’ should you choose to take part? I considered some very interesting questions for you! Please say yes? Looking forward to finding out about you a little bit more Ab! 😙

    1. That’s so wonderfully sweet of you, Andi! I will gladly take part. 🙂 I’m not sure how this works. If you send me the questions I’ll happily answer them. Give me a few days. Spending a nice weekend away with my family in nature. But will work on it soon. Thanks again. This sounds fun! 😊

      1. That’s the key Ab. Make fun of it! Just consider my post, copy and paste image and rules. Answer my 11 questions and consider the questions you would like to ask?

        Life is richer with the intel and answering questions and asking them says so much 😉

  2. Boredom really is a great lesson for kids to learn. Mine are so quick to just grab a device and watch YouTube or Tik Tok. Like you, I didn’t have those things or camps like the other kids. I learned boredom well too. I think it has taught me patience as an adult. Patience in that I can sit and watch the kids play, or sit and wait without needing something there to entertain me. I do love to hear Declan play and the world he creates in his mind – they really are fun to listen to!

    1. T has been grabbing and eyes glued on the device more than I like but there’s moments when that’s what you gotta do to survive. Lol. I enjoy watching T play so much. That’s how I spend my boredom hours these days. Haha.

      On a related note, T was at the pool yesterday and he tried to get the attention of a girl who was jumping into the deeper water. It was funny watching him attempt to socialize with this child. Made me think of your Declan stories. He eventually got her to jump in the water together a few times with some parental intervention from me to her mother. Lol.

      1. Decllan played with those boys again at our pool. They came and cracked his bubble and told him to tell their other friends about Cartoon Cat. They didn’t pay too much attention to him after that, but he stayed on the outskirts of their circle floating on his noodle until it was time to go. He felt like he was fitting in. Socialization is by far the hardest thing for him. I am so glad T had a good experience jumping in the pool with the little girl. Great job, Papa!

      2. Socialization is so hard and often tugs and tears at your heart. But good for D for always persisting. I don’t remember if I responded to your other message (it’s a miracle if I remember my name some days) but T also likes scary things. Will definitely have to see what Cartoon Cat is all about!

    1. They sure do. There was a time when kindergarten seemed so far away and now we’re halfway done these years.

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