19.12.16

Let your Kids Be Bored This Christmas

Seeing so many parents struggling to entertain their children during the (short) Christmas holidays I feel I need to let you all into a secret, you don't have to entertain children for every waking minute.

bored kid at christmas
Now don't get me wrong, planning things to do with your kids is great, it's fun and can be a lovely treat for you all. A panto at Christmas or a drive round to look at the Christmas lights followed by hot chocolate and marshmallows at a cafe, a snuggly afternoon with a family Christmas movie, even doing some crafty decorations, are all fun and to be recommended, but the times in between do not need to be filled with ideas.

Children have rooms full of toys, books and things to do (in most cases - and certainly in the families I see asking online for ideas!) and so they should be allowed to be bored, they whine a bit, the whinge a bit and they mooch a bit until they find something to do. It is an important skill to learn to amuse yourself, to learn that you can be responsible for creating fun times and creating exciting things to do in your own life, all by yourself.

No parent wants to create a needy, child, who may well grow into a demanding and entitled adult so lets try and pull back on the idea we need to fill each waking moment of a child's life with scheduled activities. It's easy to fall into that trap, I've done it myself, "Bored with colouring? Let's try a jigsaw!" "Finished the jigsaw, let's build a train track" "Trains not fun any more? Let's make a rocket from toilet roll tubes" But it's not necessary and it's not even helpful.

Pinterest should bear a bit of the blame I'm sure, filling parents heads with perfect playrooms and wonderful elaborate craft ideas, telling you to have 'ideas jars' with all sorts of fun and educational projects inside, written on slips of colourful paper to be snatched up when the children are all out of ideas of their own, but take a step back, slow down...

When I was a kid in the long summer holidays (from memory, summer holidays lasted about 20 years) I might have one or two days out to a zoo or the park, or a picnic in the woods. We might even have a week's holiday if I was lucky; but the majority of the holiday was spent outside playing, on my bike, in the garden, round a mate's house. And when the weather wasn't up to that, then playing in my room, reading, or  making up stories and games with dolls, playing shops in the kitchen, playing schools with my blackboard and chalks and rows of serious faced dolls, or colouring and drawing, making little story books, or card games.

None of these activities was scheduled or suggested by anyone (I did not draw ideas out of an ideas jar!) . You sat around, you got bored, and you found ways to fill the time. I can even remember (upon whining "I'm bored") being told that intelligent children are never bored! And really any child intelligent or less so should never be bored, especially in an age of multiple console games, Lego, books, toys, jigsaws, TV, drawing things, painting stuff.....

One of the things I remember very well was 'helping' around the house, joining in with polishing the hall floor, or helping with baking in the kitchen, going to the shops.

And so if your whining child really won't stop, then just throw some other ideas out there "Clean your room then!" "dust the lounge" "Hoover the bedrooms" "Do your homework" "Revise some maths" you'll be amazed how rapidly a child will find almost anything else to do except that.

Do you let your children get bored? How do you deal with whining? Or are you a scheduler?  and what free things are good to do (for all those other schedulers out there)

And if you really must have some ideas, I suggest some free things to do in this post, Falcondale Life Blog has a free holiday planner printable here, and for the crafty among you check out Red Ted Art's blog

But mainly I suggest closing your ears to the whining, make a cup of tea, read a magazine and let them be bored, even just for a couple of hours, they may surprise you.