I meant to be a free-range parent (affiliate link). I love the idea of kids roaming through the neighborhood, devising their own games, riding bikes and climbing trees. Instead, I became a helicopter parent with an over-excitability concerning signing up for activities.
And honestly, my social life mainly consists of chatting with my parent-friends at sporting events. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself with all that free time either.
Yet, every summer, I declare that this year, I’m not going to over-schedule them. I’m not going to drag them all over the country visiting relatives. (Last year, they were only in town 4 days for the entire month of July.)
I’m going to resist the emails for running camp and trampoline camp and art camp (oops, already signed up for that one) and all the other kid activities that can only be accessed with a wallet and a carpool. I’m going to let them have a 1970s summer (hopefully minus the serial killers) and enjoy lazy afternoons.
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Let’s be honest—I’m still me. My finger itches when it sees a “click here to enroll” button.
Some lessons can be delayed but not avoided, and apparently, this over-scheduling thing is one of them. Recently, my eldest broke his thumb. No baseball. No bike riding, and only “chilling out” in the pool—no rambunctious play.
The universe is forcing us to slow down and have that unscheduled summer I’ve dreamed about.
To be honest, it’s making me nuts. I want to fill the time for them. Take them to the museum, or on a fishing trip (ok, I don’t like to touch fish, so probably not that). Laser tag or the trampoline park (scratch the last one—not so great for broken thumbs I imagine).
But everything I think of requires parental involvement. What my kids need is to come up with their own plans. I need to sit back and let them tell me what they need.
Experts say boredom is necessary for childhood development.
Children need to sit in their own boredom for the world to become quiet enough that they can hear themselves. It is only when we are surrounded by nothing that something comes alive on the inside.Dr. Lapointe, Huffington Post
And she’s not the only one. Psychology Today is even more dire with their warning,
When we’re supplying all the goods for our kids’ attention, we’re actually encouraging our children’s imaginations and creative capacities to atrophy and die.Nancy Colier LCSW, Rev.
But I have really good ideas! I can come up with at least 7 interesting things to do at any moment! Plus, I’m quite sure that the world (or at least the household) will work much better if everyone listened to me.
And let me also admit that working from home provides many opportunities for mom-guilt. Making the kids sit in boredom seems like neglect on some level. Even if I know it’s the best thing for them.
I’m trying to resist the siren’s lure of, “I’m bored,” coming out of my kids’ mouths. Maybe boredom will lead my kids to new interests—ones that don’t involve sign-up sheets, registration fees, and taxi service.
Maybe they will strengthen existing friendships and form new ones. Run a lemonade stand or form a business doing yard work or babysitting. Find a cause they believe in and try to change the world.
Meanwhile, I’ll duct tape my mouth shut. I’ll offer a little less in the way of suggestions. After all, they can’t lead if I’m always in their way.
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