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Making Time to be Bored

Posted by Heather Rogers on

While many of you in the Northeast are just beginning summer, some of our friends down South have been on break for a month. And whether it’s the first day of summer or the fortieth, one thing is for sure: Your kids are getting bored.

That’s a good thing, according to psychologists. Researchers in East Anglia (near Cambridge, England) say that boredom helps kids develop their internal stimulus, which is critical for creative thinking.

What about adults? Fast Company shared a study from Pennsylvania State University that reported participants who were bored outperformed the others on a creativity test. 

In today’s world of smartphones for adults, when waiting in line now means checking Facebook rather than staring into space, how do we make time to be bored? Summer camps and programs can reap many benefits for our kids, but can we still carve out time for them (and us) to be bored?

I have great parents, but I don’t remember them playing with me in the summer. I’m sure they did, but what I remember is sneaking through the woods to a vacant area we called the “Sand Dunes,” playing house and school in the play house, and endless rounds of kickball and “Spud,” a local ball game. At camp, we had plenty of free time to carve into the clay wall and throw rocks in the creek. It’s sentimental and nostalgic, and no doubt there are many great things my kids get to do today that I didn’t. Yet, I still like the idea of them being bored and making time for their imaginations and self-reliance to develop.

How can you make time to be bored this summer? For me, it starts with realizing that boredom can reap productivity. Some parenting blogs suggest a “bored jar,” where kids can choose from a list of activities they’ve come up with and written on popsicle sticks. Others utilize a “bored list.”

Have other ideas for leveraging boredom this summer? Share them with us.

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