Many a frustrated mother has heard those three whiny words. You may be one of them. But before you rush to fill those empty moments with a long list of suggested activities, you might stop to consider if boredom is such a bad thing.
When today’s children aren’t in school or occupied by after-school activities, homework, chores, and jobs, they too often turn to passive entertainment—television and video games—to fill the rest of their days. The fact is that many kids in the twenty-first century just don’t know what to do with time to themselves.
Yet children need “unproductive” time to rest and recharge their batteries. It is the impetus for them to develop their inner lives, imagination, creativity, and sense of individuality. It is a time for play—not structured sports and games, but role-playing fun with stuffed animals or games where the kids make up the rules as they go. This allows children to practice negotiation and creative problem solving. Unstructured time also provides an opportunity to encourage a love for reading in your kids—a habit that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.
Of course, too much free time can also lead to trouble. The un-ambitious or irresponsible teenager who avoids all structure is at greater risk for involvement with drinking, drugs, and other perils of adolescence. You’ll want to channel him or her into constructive activities through church or school, or perhaps a part-time job.
Other than these exceptions, though, I believe you’re wiser to allow your children a few idle moments now and then. God makes so many things for us to enjoy each day—rainbows, sunsets, birds, music, hot
chocolate by a toasty fire. As you and your children begin to appreciate them, you may start to see boredom not as a curse, but as a precious gift.