Embrace Boredom

I don’t know about you, but I have had some moments over the past weeks when I’ve been really bored.  Today, for example, I walked around the house to find something that needed doing.  Everything was clean.  All the dishes were put away.  The garbage and recycling have been taken out. I had completed and posted my writing.  I had taken a nice walk. I had read my book AND the newspaper, and it was still only 4:00.  What, I wondered, was I going to do now?  I can’t go out and run errands.  The movies are closed.  I can’t call a friend to meet somewhere. I can’t even run down to the coffee shop for an afternoon latte (not that I ever did that before, but I could have).

So I decided to go read some of the emails and blogs I had flagged this morning.  And that’s when an email from Brene Brown popped up.  I should have known that Ms. Brown was going to give me the wisdom I would need to dare greatly through this challenge. I clicked on her latest blog post (Collective Vulnerability, the FFTs (“Effin First Times) of  Online Learning, and the Sacredness of Bored Kids).  There is so much wisdom in this post, but the thing that resonated with me was this:

But, we must be ready. Boredom will be an FFT for a lot of our children who have TikTok, memes, and games at the ready, 24 hours a day.

Just as we can come out of our skin during hard first times, they will too. It will take hours of complaining about feeling like they’re dying before they settle into that strange place that’s rarely visited by today’s children – their imagination.  We don’t need to entertain them, we need to model vulnerability for them and support them in this FFT.

Boredom is sacred. We shouldn’t deny our children this holy experience.

Brown got me thinking…..

Maybe boredom is our answer……..

I’ve noticed the way my two grown daughters have embraced this time.  I’m sure they are bored.  After all, they live huge lives in New York City; lives filled with friends and dining out and shopping, and visiting museums, galleries, and musical performances.  They also work long hours. Now they are sequestered in their family home in a very quiet suburb.  (There’s not much happening here even when everything is open.)  They have to be bored.  But I’ve been amazed at what they have been doing.  Morgan cleaned, painted, and completely re-arranged her bedroom.  This morning, Mackensie was sitting at the piano practicing pieces she had played when she was in high school.  They have both spent a lot of time quietly reading.  My oldest daughter, a teacher with two children,  has taken a trip to some beautiful outdoor space almost every day since her school closed.

And then there are my grandchildren.  They are usually very busy with school and sports and dance classes.  Now that they have been home for a few weeks, Cole has decided to start a stamp collection and write letters to his grandfather.  Elle has created a schedule that includes things like family walk time, create time (make something!), academic time, and, of course, before bed reading time.

I think Brene Brown is onto something.  Let’s embrace the boredom.  Let’s let kids get SO bored that they start to invent stuff to do.  Maybe kids will start gardens, or start a letter writing campaign.  Maybe kids will collect stamps or shells.  Maybe kids will press flowers or start scrapbooks.  Maybe kids will observe the birds in their back yard.  Maybe kids will learn to cook or paint or crochet.  Maybe the answer to this distance learning question is to let kids follow (or develop) their passions.  If that was the result of these months away from the school building, I think we would have accomplished something quite magical.

6 thoughts on “Embrace Boredom”

  1. This post is so meaning to me because I believe in its inherent truth. It is hard to find time to create when every minute is scheduled. Thanks for writing this.

  2. I’ve always felt like boredom isn’t bad. It’s just the isolation that gets me. I love your post. Hearing what your grandchildren are doing is so cool. I used to collect stamps and so did my grandfather. Maybe I can share some cool ones…
    Thanks for sharing. I always like reading your writing.

  3. Yes, yes, resoundingly yes! There are so many children in my upper-SES school who usually have their days completely mapped out by their parents with activities from breakfast to bedtime. It will be interesting to see if they are able to take this opportunity to reconnect with and parent their children–and to allow the boredom to happen. I will share this post in my social media feeds!

  4. I think Brene Brown is right. I mean, what else can we do but embrace the boredom? I read a lot about how kids these days aren’t used to being bored. Even as adults, I think we’ve gotten used to always having something to do. It’s going to be a learning experience for us all!

  5. I totally agree with the sentiments here. From boredom creativity often emerges. Finding something to do can lead us to some real eye-opening experiences.

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