Boredom seems to be more common than sunburns in the summer. I remember clearly telling my children that boredom is not an illness. It is okay to let your kids be bored! There are actual benefits of boredom. 

 Balance is key.  

If you want to help them continue to grow in divergent thinking, creativity, and cognitive functioning when bored, you can’t take a completely hands-off approach. Some periods of boredom are okay, but generally, extended periods of boredom are not good for children’s cognition. Letting your children be bored for a little while, is not the same thing as simply checking out and disengaging from them all day long.  

The best way to get the benefits of boredom is to provide structure in your day by creating a schedule that contains time for creativity and quiet. When you schedule, you provide them with structure so that there is a flow to the day. This isn’t the same as entertaining them constantly or over-programming them.  

You can help your children to be more tolerant of boredom by building into your day times of low simulation (no screens, family prayer time, alone time). Research tells us that when kids are bored, they are primed for creativity. When your kids come to you, and they are bored – that is your cue to give them some support. Give them some ideas for engaging in those creative activities rather than just turning to screens to veg out. Having leisure activities in mind for the kids to engage in creatively acts as a protective factor against the negative effects of boredom. 

A small period of completely free play (rather than structured play or activity) leads to increased creativity directly following the free time. When kids engaged with something – some actual activity during free time (rather than just walking around the house complaining that they were bored!) – that made a difference. So, if they play with legos during free time – that is great. If they just watch TV all day – that is not good.  There is a balance that needs to be re-discovered each summer – because the kids are growing and changing too. 

Lastly, be sure you take care of YOURSELF too. Stay physically active, get your prayer time in each morning or during naps, eat well, and drink a lot of water. Be a good role model of how to spend downtime. Put your phone down and pick up a real book. I know everyone loves audibles and kindles but show the kids you know how to read an actual book too – they learn so much by watching you. Family reading time is usually some of my favorite family time in the summer! 

By providing a loose schedule, regular meal times, and giving them a chance to be bored, you all can have a happier, healthier, more creative home this summer. For more on the research on boredom, check out episode 86 of the Parenting Smarts Podcast.  

 Summer Boredom Busters: 

  • Do some pushups/sit-ups 
  • Stretch 
  • Family reading time 
  • Family rosary 
  • Take a nap 
  • Play cards 
  • Play a board game 
  • Draw a picture 
  • Listen to a story 
  • Write a story 
  • Make up a game 
  • Do chores! 
  • Get crafty 
  • Bake some cookies 
  • Do a puzzle 
  • Call a friend 
  • Build a fort 
  • Organize something 
  • Playdough 
  • Make someone a card 
  • Write a poem 
  • Journal about your day 
  • Paper dolls or airplanes 
  • Origami 
  • Make up skits 
  • Wash the car 
  • Play in the sprinklers