I have a friend (hey Melissa) who is a teacher. She notes that many children don’t know how to play during recess. They are used to activities, electronics and being ALWAYS entertained….They have lost the art of boredom and imagination.
My grandmother had no patience for boredom. An only child who lived way away from any neighbors, she learned to entertain herself. (This was a really firm statement from a woman who never yelled and couldn’t make a decision about anything, ever)
Note: Loneliness is different than Boredom. I’m against feeling lonely, and for experiencing boredom.
Lots of my best creativity came from boredom, a lot of my spirituality came from boredom (I now try to tell kids that boredom is a necessary part of church) and of course a lot of learning how to do self-care came from boredom.
In a blog, a mom sums up the problems with parenting as follows
“1. Birthday Parties
What in the hell has happened here? I remember going to birthday parties as a kid. We simply played for a bit, sang “Happy Birthday”, ate some friggin’ cake, and watched our buddy open up some presents. Why on Earth have these things morphed into themed parties that take hours of planning, hundreds of dollars and are only appreciated by the people who aren’t being celebrated? It’s crazy! For HJ’s first birthday, I fell victim to this whole fiasco. We had a Milk & Cookies theme and I stressed myself completely out as I accounted for food allergies, activities for older kids, balloons during a helium shortage, and the perfect shade of pink in every corner. I was still so stressed out by the experience that HJ had a grandparents only party the next year.”
YES Birthdays should be fun, not entertaining
“2. Elf on the Shelf
Simply singing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” used to be enough to put kids in check. Now they have a snitch. Not just any snitch, but one in which Mom and Dad have to place in humorous and cutesy positions every night to entertain the kids and remind them to be good. Because completing Christmas shopping, baking for holiday parties, seeing family, going to light shows, and wrapping presents isn’t enough to keep us busy during that month. We need to add a stupid elf to the list. (Full disclosure: HJ and B’s elf is currently in my closet, ready to make her debut this Christmas.)”
UGH! Please let me never be an elf on the shelf parent this self-purported “Charming family tradition” creeps me out SOOO much, and then the crazy parents who do secret things with their elves, UGH!!! I believe in Christmas Magic, not Christmas shame.
“3. Organic EVERYTHING
Yes, organic is the best way to feed a family. Avoiding pesticides, GMOs, additives, and other preservatives is preferable, obviously. I get it. That being said, I still need to be able to afford to actually feed my family. Have you noticed how organic food is nearly double the price? AND everything can be organic these days. There’s organic t-shirts, organic cleaners, and organic candy. There’s even organic diaper bags. Seriously? We really need the bag that carries my kid’s poopy diapers to be organic? Are we eating it later?”
Um, no, I’m working on most meals being home cooked, I value that more than the organic thing, and farmer’s markets where my kids connect to their food and where it comes from. I am a bad Obie (Oberlin Grad) and am not on the organic train…
“4. Kid’s Sports
I played sports as a kid. I was in dance, gymnastics, tee ball, softball and volleyball. The difference between kids’ sports back then and now is the fact that our sports didn’t eat up every free friggin’ moment of every day. Thankfully my kids aren’t old enough for this yet, but I have seen it from family and friends. As soon as their kid starts a sporting activity, I NEVER see them again because it never seems to end. They are always at practice, a game, or a tournament. As soon as the summer league is over, then the fall league starts. Fall’s over? Oh, great! The spring league is here! I don’t blame parents. I blame the coaches and league organizers. Do these people even have kids?”
Similarly I don’t (and may never) have this problem, however I will push group sports first (soccer, T-Ball, etc) and see what happens….for issues like these I let the kid take the lead….and usually I give the kid a couple of weeks, ask them if they want to continue, if they do they are committed for the year, but can step down the next year.
As much as I love it, I have to admit: Pinterest is an a-hole. It further perpetuates the notion that parents must do everything perfectly and be the best at everything. Just the other day I saw a pin that taught parents how to apply tattoos to bananas for school lunches. Are you kidding me?! It’s not enough to make lunch for your children, but now we have to decorate it? Ridiculous. Also, because of Pinterest, I am guilted into thinking I should have a water table, a colored rice sensory table, make my own finger paints, sew pillowcase dresses, put lunches artfully into cute little bento boxes, and that I should be setting up monthly photo shoots with my wiggly kids. No. No. And no. It’s difficult enough to keep them alive, fed, clothed, bathed, and away from my secret candy stash.
Can we collectively agree to take it all down a notch?””
Pinterest: I love arts and crafts, but I DON’T have time with three preschoolers, so it sadly just depresses me…plus I tend to think up good ideas on my own (yay)….so I’ve not succumbed…….yet……………..
Here is a full on response!
What I notice is that a lot of this is trying to make better choices for our children.
What if we taught them (instead) to make better decisions for themselves? What if we let them take the lead and didn’t stuff their day with activities but left time free for family, friends, maybe even church and/or boredom (see what I did there because church and boredom are not necessarily mutually exclusive)……..
This also helps with one of my constant problems. Money. My family can never seem to get ahead, we are always, just barely, making it…but craft materials are free, playgrounds are free, churches and informal playgroups are free….I don’t believe in Paying to Play, I’m not a big fan of making entertainment the center of my children’s life (hint that’s why I have three, so I can be referee instead of entertainer)……..so anyway, that’s my 2 cents on the issue!