Thursday, September 8, 2016

Lessons in Boredom

Its been a little over two months now that I've been exclusively a SAHM. I'm on a bit of a learning curve still regarding productivity and efficiency, two things that are very important to me. There is a tendency to feel I've been busy all day, but nothing got done. Don't we all feel that way though?

Interestingly, I've had a few conversations with other moms that have led me to watch the boys and their adjustment period more closely. When we had babysitters (typically 3-4hrs/day 4-5 days a week), the boys were on a pretty busy schedule. And when the sitters were here, they were involved in active child-centered play. They were being constantly entertained. When I wasn't working, I felt an obligation to be fun. I had a house cleaner, so I didn't have to spend my time mopping, I could be with the boys. We were always on the go. I was always planning something fun.

My focus is different as is my expectation of the boys. We still have a pretty solid routine, but it is much more relaxed. I try to not be on the go as much. At first I maintained my "daily outing" schedule, but I found that I was exhausted and that nothing was getting done at home, which can't become the norm for me.

For the last six weeks or so, once breakfast is done, the boys are on their own. They go to their room or the living room and they play. Together. Without me. It's fantastic. At first they were bored. They didn't seem to to have a direction for play. Then I saw it. I saw little sparkles of it at first and then it exploded.

Imagination.

They started building their own forts. They started "going camping" in their own room. They'd fill their pillow cases with all of the essentials (stuffed animal, toy gun, water bottle and crayons) and head to the living room for a camp-out. They began to pull out toys that had been left unplayed with for quite some time. They started playing board games.

Now, I can easily get in 1-1.5 hours of house work, virtually uninterrupted, while they play after breakfast. If the baby naps, I can even shower! It's amazing.

When a child says to their mom that he is bored, I think the natural inclination is to feel as if you've failed in providing enough stimulation, toys, fun, interaction or playdates. I've started to make them responsible for themselves and their entertainment. These kids have more at their fingertips than 99.9% of the children in the world. Trampoline, slide, huge bedroom, bike, trike, scooter, water guns, kiddie pool, bubbles, sticks, rocks, mud, legos, train set, tools, books, crayons...there is no room for boredom. Boredom is laziness. It's a lack of desire to do the things you can do. It's wanting someone else to do it for you. Because I have refused to pick up that mantel, I have been really pleasantly surprised to see what they have come up with. Henry is reading more than he ever used to. Brock loves practicing math and handwriting. He also likes to help with chores. Alex, well, he is still happy to play in the toilet and eat out of the trash bin. But, overall, I have seen an explosion of activity, self-motivated play, more interaction between the boys, increased creativity and much to my surprise- self-initiated learning.

I'd encourage you to try it. Let them get bored and then let them solve that problem themselves. There's a little more peace in that arrangement for you and a little more satisfaction for them.

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