Easter break has just been and gone. Not that it makes any difference to me yet seeing as both of our boys aren’t even in nursery yet*, let alone school!
*Nursery is on the cards soon… once I figure out where to look into and how to budget for the mini fortune it will take from our budget!
But I always find myself musing over thoughts when the holidays from school come around. Posts are suddenly full with the usual extreme reactions, some parents excited about having their little ones home and others understandably daunted by the prospect of juggling childcare and work on top of the big evil word that gets echoed for miles around as soon as the schools doors close..
I remember being on holiday as a kid and having the phrase ‘I’m bored!’ come out of my mouth many a time. Along with the whinge and whine type of tone that visibly made my mum’s shoulders tense up to her ears which signalled to me that I was about to get absolutely nowhere in my quest to find sympathy and inspiration. A reaction that I can completely relate to, now that I have two offspring of my own.
What I’m realising is, though, that my two respond really well to boredom. Don’t get me wrong, some days they are climbing the walls and need to be given a good run around… sort of akin to a pair of Springer spaniels that need time off the leash.
But, I think that leaving them to figure out and solve their own boredom, is actually a really good thing.
Watching and waiting.
There have been lots of times where the two of them have been quite loppy and agitated (usually on a rainy day where we haven’t a soft play to go to because they are rammed full with a two hour wait and an hour curfew!) and I’ve just left them to amuse themselves with their toys as I’ve busied myself with different chores. And they’ve created games and developed bonds with each other that I don’t think would have happened if I had brandished an iPad their way out of panic or guilt. Or intervened with a big and messy activity that they would have probably tired of after 3 minutes anyway.
I’m not saying I ignore them. Or that I don’t bring out technology or potato prints when I need to! I just watch, wait and don’t interfere every time they seem bored. And usually, not after long, that magical little spark of imagination comes into play, and it’s brilliant to witness. Sofa cushions get used to create mountains. Hide and seek starts spontaneously (and pretty inefficiently may I add.. seeing as two toddlers can’t quite figure out that just hiding their faces doesn’t mean that they are in fact completely hidden from view!).
I’m grateful for boredom.
I think back to my childhood and those times I would chance my luck by lamenting ‘woe is me’ vibes at my mum’s tense shoulders and I thank my lucky stars that she ignored me to. I would always find something to do and my imagination would unfold and know no bounds on the quiet, rainy days when there was apparently ‘nothing to do’.
It’s ok to let them be bored. It’s the boredom that fuels their imagination and independence to find their own amusement. You aren’t failing and you aren’t bad for letting boredom set in. It is a test on the shoulders and ears but it is such a valuable lesson.
I still play and bake and craft and hide when we have our quiet days. But, if I have other things that need my attention and I feel the Mummy Guilt Fairy waving her wand in my face, I shoo her away, push past the whinging and whining and wait for the happy giggles that come when they’re using their initiative and imagination.
That’s when I thank my lucky stars for boredom, and the magic that it encourages to grow.