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Summer Doldrums

“I think it’s necessary to let kids get bored once in awhile – that’s how they learn to be creative.” – Kim Raver

Summer doldrums may be taking a toll, possibly tempting kids to say, “I’m bored!” I hope my kids utter this phase over the summer for two reasons. First, it helps validate that I have not over-scheduled them; and second, that quiet space of boredom is a wonderful launch pad for creativity and taking initiative!

I have been seduced by the pervasive pressure to schedule my kids in a variety of activities during the summer with the hopes of avoiding the “summer slide.” Fears that my children may fall behind academically blinded me to the other opportunities that summer presents in developing young people more holistically. In my humble opinion, too many summer activities can actually have a negative affect on other areas of development, like independence and self-discovery. Like all things in life, finding the right balance is challenging – even sunshine burns if you get too much. This summer’s parental experiment is maximizing my children’s unscheduled “free time” to enjoy summer floating by, instead of zooming past us.

Sparking inspiration can be as simple as supplying simple materials such as cardboard boxes, plastic containers, and shovels. Providing safe household ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, sugar, and salt allows children to conduct experiments (preferably outside) to get messy and learn on their own. Ground rules should be firmly established before the material is pulverized so grown-up aren’t left with collateral damage.

But let’s not forget experiencing boredom ourselves. When is the last time you can recall being bored? Give yourself permission to be bored. Here is the kicker – this means abiding by the same rules. As adults, we need to be mindful not to over-schedule ourselves and build in “downtime.” It is so easy to say: “I don’t have time.” The reality is that we choose how to spend our time every day, every moment. Everyone is given the same amount of time daily. I challenge everyone, young and old, to allow for the luxury of boredom. I anticipate the scared space created within boredom can spark creativity in adults as it would in children. We simply need to ask ourselves, are we brave enough to be bored once in awhile? Listen patiently – inspiration is waiting.