The Week I Allowed My Kids to Be Bored

We took a week off of school recently.  And when I say we took the week off, I mean, we had no plans.  We stayed at home in jammies and played and ate fun snacks.  I sat in the middle of the room and supervised the kids but they were on their own.  At times I even headed to another part of the house to clean or organize or even read.  I let them choose their activities, make their own plans, and simply explore.

Monday:  They asked lots of questions of, “Can we do this?” or “Can we do that?”  The answer was always yes so they finally stopped asking.  We may or may not have had cookies for lunch – or maybe that was just me……..  My kids spent several hours playing legos, blocks, and trains.  The entire living room was turned into a play city and dolls were brought down and towers and houses were built.

Tuesday:  The kids set up a doctor’s office upstairs.  They doctored all the dolls and even the stuffed animals.  One room was the waiting room, another was the room for sick people, another was the room for people who were recovering, and the hallway was the ER.  Most of their patients had pretty serious and terrible sounding conditions.  I stopped by a few times to get checked out but I was too big to fit on their operating table so I wasn’t much fun.

Wednesday:  They built a play fort in the homeschool room and brought all their blankets and pillows to put under the homeschool table.  Every possible toy was crammed in and they took flashlights and set up camp for most of the day.  However, I think they spent more time arguing about what they should do and who should do what than they did actually playing together.  I started hearing lots of tattling and even a few “I’m bored!!” statements coming from the crew.

Thursday:  Every few minutes someone would whine and ask me what they could do.  I told them that they were amazingly creative and super imaginative and I just knew they would think of something great.  They decided to play with some extra cardboard boxes and turned one into the wardrobe and they traveled back and forth to Narnia as they played.  Then they made a picnic with food from the play kitchen.  Then they played games and then they painted and then they dressed up.  Each activity lasted only a few minutes before they began arguing.  I gave them some tools to work through the arguments themselves and they did a pretty impressive job.  Yet, they were still so “bored!!!”

Friday:  They spent most of the morning asking me what they should do because they were so bored!  Then they began to beg to play on the computer or iPad.  The answer to that question was always no.  However, they did not give up easily!  I kept encouraging them to go play create something.  By the afternoon they had gone upstairs.  I could hear them rearranging furniture in the homeschool room.  When I checked on them they had turned the chairs and smaller tables into school desks and benches and they had designed their own classroom.  Each child had a white board and paper and pencils.  Curly was the teacher (of course!) and she was teaching, explaining lessons, reading aloud, and giving out generous amounts of homework to each “student.”  She had created individualized worksheets for each child with colors and shapes for Ladybug, numbers for Bee, and addition and short sentences for Tiger.  The kids worked away on their lessons for several hours.  When I next checked on them they asked if we could do school or if I would please give them some “real homework.”

Ahh yes!  They missed me!  They missed school and homework and lessons and reading and books and art and work!  My little experiment was a huge success!

And I had a very nice week by the way!  I spent much of it sitting comfortably nearby on the couch or in a bean bag chair.  Sometimes I had a book and hot tea handy.  I even got more than 1 nap that week!  And I did some cleaning, caught up on laundry, did some blogging, and organized a few things.  It was like a mini-vacation in a homeschoolish, momish sort of way (because are you ever actually off duty?  No!).  

So why is it more than ok to let your kids be bored for a while?
That’s when their creativity and imagination can shine.  I’m not the activities director at this house.  Sometimes I need someone else to step in with some ideas and lead the way.  I so enjoyed letting my kids take the initiative and use their imagination to come up with new ways to play.  It was such a treat for me to see their creativity in action.  We’ll be doing this experiment again soon!

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