bored during summer

I’m kind of a procrastinator when it comes to planning my kids’ summer breaks. Each year I tell myself I’ll schedule a variety of camps that will enrich and entertain them while occupying all their free time. Giving them lasting memories of a summer spent doing fun scheduled activities so no one utters the words “I’m bored.” The only problem is, that requires planning ahead of time, and I’m the worst at planning. The. Worst.

Summer break is now only weeks away, and so far I’ve planned…nothing.

Truthfully, I’m sure I could still find some camps that have openings left, but I’ve decided I’m not going to. Instead, I’m choosing to sit this summer out. I’m choosing to let them be bored. I was bored from roughly 1988 till about 1996, and summers were pretty magical. I spent my days alternating between irritating my brother, visiting the library for stacks of books, chasing butterflies, and watching the clouds for entertainment. What I miss the most now about childhood is the luxury of boredom. Boredom allowed me to stretch my mind and be creative. It forced me to think of ways to entertain myself.

So this summer I’m giving my kids the gift of boredom. Now, they might not see it as a gift initially, but hopefully, as adults they’ll look back with fond memories of the summer they spent being bored.

Besides, according to child psychiatrists, boredom is actually good for the mind; it can help kids become creative, build skills, and develop their brains. So it looks like my procrastination might actually be beneficial for my kids. I’m giving myself a high-five right now.

During the school year, the weekdays rush by at a breakneck pace. Kids have to wake up and get ready for six hours of school that are followed by homework, extra-curricular activities, dinner, and the bedtime routine. All of this impatiently waits for us each day, fully dominating every waking second. There’s little time to be bored or stretch your imagination or learn how to explore your thoughts and entertain yourself—which are valuable skills. 

And if I’m being totally honest, I want to steal this time with my kids while they’re still little. Time where I don’t have to be barking out orders like a drill sergeant, telling them they need to hurry up and get ready for school or camp because we’re going to be late, watching over their shoulders to make sure they’ve finished their homework. None of that is fun to do. It’s an important part of being their mom, but it’s not my favorite part.

So yes, summer is only weeks away for my kids and instead of dreading the hours of free time, I’m looking forward to what it will hold for us. No alarm clocks, no homework, no plans.

Now don’t get me wrong, it won’t always be sunshine and rainbows. The lack of structure will most certainly result in my kids getting on each other’s nerves. They’ll likely scream at one another, and I anticipate I’ll be refereeing plenty of gladiator-style death matches as they wrestle one another on the days they feel too confined. I’m prepared for this. I lived it as a kid. At some point each day my grandmother opened the door and shooed us outside to play with the neighborhood kids who’d also been kicked out of their houses.

Once August arrives and the back to school routine is in full swing, I will be ready for it and so will they; but for now I plan to let them soak up the boredom and the freedom that comes from not having a plan.

Photo: Getty