Recreation, Us Time

ONLY BORING PEOPLE GET BORED

I’m sure many of Us Parents have heard that dreadful saying ‘I’m bored!’ since the children have been off school, over the past week or so?

The school summer holidays pose a real challenge for most of us, as we compile packed itineraries, lists and mind maps of where to go and what to do, to entertain our childrens endless wants and desires.

As a child, I loved nothing more than our Sunday walk through the forest or hike up our local mountain. We did it every Sunday without fail but my brother and I never bored of it, in fact all week we look forward to it.

As a child, I loved nothing more than our Sunday walk through the forest or hike up our local mountain.

Granted we only had 3 TV channels back then when I was a child, where children’s programmes were only aired for an hour at lunchtime. And we didn’t have computers or phones then, so I never felt as though I was missing out on my screen time. Walking up a mountain or playing tag with the other children in our street was our entertainment.

Playing tag with the other children in our street was our entertainment.

Often, I hear ‘It’s boring we’ve been here before.’ when I take children out somewhere.  As though every trip should be somewhere new and exciting. I fear, Children are just losing their ability to entertain themselves and have fun naturally these days.

And childrens play places are cashing in at our expense. When I was a child a trip to the farm or zoo was a once a year treat, we were lucky to get a bag of sweets or a pencil with a rubber from the gift shop at the end of our visit. Now children expect expensive toys at the end of every day out. It’s not our childrens fault these venues strategically place the gift shop full of toys, at the end of an attraction where we must walk our children through to leave.

But the result is, as parents, we no longer feel a fun family day out is good enough, when our children are clutching onto a fifty-pound toy, demanding they want it!

We know that we can get the same toy half the price from the supermarket, but we also know, all our children will remember is how horrible we were for denying them that toy, not all the fun we had having a picnic next to the peacocks!

WHATS NEXT?

Its vital children have the chance to relax and unwind, this doesn’t mean sleeping. Stimulation overload is a very real problem facing our children, affecting their mental health. Encouraging them to listen to relaxing music, read a book or comic and take time to daydream is vital. Most children today see this as being bored but there’s a lot of benefits to boredom.

As parents we are so busy in our own lives, we feel guilty when we are not providing busyness for our children, but what we all need and crave is time out from this busyness. One Monday morning about twelve years ago, I remember asking a parent how her weekend had been, here’s how she replied.

‘Friday after school I took the children to football and gymnastics, then Saturday morning they had karate, and in the afternoon, I took them swimming at that new pool with all the big slides, but they got bored after half hour so we ended up in the park. But then they had worked up an appetite so we went for a burger, then onto the cinema. I think they are getting too old for animated films now though, as they soon got bored mid- way and all they did was fight with one another then all evening. Then You’ll never guess what?’

One Busy Mum!

I shook my head in disbelief thinking, what there’s more?  

As she continued

‘Sunday, I found out they had a big homework project that took most of the day up, I’m just so tired, I can’t wait to get back to work today!’

One TIRED MUM!

Wow, Wow, Wow!

All that nonstop entertainment, time and expense and at the end of the day none of it made them happy.

What would I wonder?

Too much can be just as bad as not enough. This conversation took place many years ago but over the years I’ve found, children are becoming a part of ‘The What Next Generation?’ of dissatisfied children. An enjoyable picnic in the park is just never enough. Children seem to be asking their parents ‘what’s next?’ before they have even finished doing what they are currently doing.

Leaving most of us worn out, skint and frazzled by the end of the day!

There’s not much left to the imagination anymore, and the absence of a TV, mobile phone or computer, can make our children feel bored. Unfortunately, being constantly occupied with people or electronic things, prevents contemplation and creativity.

Being constantly occupied with people or electronic things, prevents contemplation and creativity.

Children are so used to this type of stimulation they cannot play alone or even with each other anymore, they just don’t know how to occupy themselves without these props, so they say they are bored. I have an answer for that; ‘Only boring people get bored.’

There’s more for children to do today, than any other time in history. There’s so much choice, variety, toys, opportunities, and experiences, it’s hard to believe that the word bored still exists in the English language.

Back in the Depression and Wartime days, children really did have nothing to play with, nowhere to go and little to do, yet they never seemed to get bored like the children of today do. They had no other option, they had to amuse themselves and they knew how to play and have fun naturally.

My children learnt early on, never to utter those words ‘I’m bored.’ As soon as they did, they knew I would find them a list of things to occupy them, such as cleaning jobs or homework.

On hearing what I had to offer to alleviate their boredom, they suddenly remembered they had lots to be getting on with and got on with it!

We help alleviate boredom, by allowing them to become bored. This means occasionally removing toys and electronics.

Ironically, we help alleviate boredom, by allowing them to become bored. This means occasionally removing toys and electronics. This is not a punishment, so to prove that to them, we have to join them in this practice too.

This is probably something we will struggle with more than our children; I mean can you actually imagine a day without your phone, computer or TV?

We’d fall so behind on the soaps, social media, and junk email!

Boredom would eventually disappear, however, and our children would come to realise all there is naturally around them. They may struggle at first to find things to do, but given the alternative, such as cleaning their bedroom, they would soon find something to do which is more fun.

What could you be doing that’s more fun instead?

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Routine

Help it’s the School Easter Holidays!

Children all over the country are jumping for joy. Schools out for Easter, YIPEE!!!!

Or maybe ‘No way!!!?’ If you’re a parent crying into your coffee?

Its not that we don’t want to spend time with our delightful cherubs, eating chocolate eggs and playing the days away. It’s just we know how difficult its going to get after day three, when the sun stops shining and we’ve run out of art and crafts/ films/ books and things in general to entertain them.

And if you’re fortunate enough to have more than one little cherub to love and entertain, then you know that sibling rivalry and warfare will ensue. In this blog this week, we’ll cover entertainment, next week we’ll tackle sibling rivalry and staying sane.

Our children crave our time and attention and delight in any we offer. So, with their normal routine disrupted, if we just try to leave them to get on with it, they’ll probably misbehave in order to grab our attention. Partly because they just won’t know what to do, other than get hypnotized by a screen or digital device. Believe it or not children actually like being told what to do? It’s usually they way we go about telling them that’s the issue, not the instructions themselves.

School and childcare are great for our children because it gives them a structure to their day, which is broken up into various activities. They are also in the company of others their own age and they know what is expected of them, when and where and more importantly why?

At home through the holidays, this all goes out the window. They wake up too early or too late. They eat treats and snacks at various times of the day. If they have siblings they bicker, if they don’t have other siblings, they are alone or in adult company, which soon gets boring. Often, they lack the physical and mental exercise, as they’re not running around the playground or walking on the school runs, or stretching their brains. Meaning that at bedtime they are not tired and end up going to bed later, as there’s no school the next day. After a few days they don’t enjoy spending time with us as much, because the novelty has worn off, and our nagging is irritating us as much as them.

But stress not, there are ways to ease all this.

Following (and also in next week’s blog post) you’ll find a few pointers to restore some balance, keep them happily busy, keep you sane and help you regain your composure these hols.

Keep to Routine

Our childrens Routines are simply their everyday activities such as going to bed or eating dinner at a certain time.


Lack of routine causes confusion and that results in misbehaviour.

Children especially like the predictability and stability that routines bring in an otherwise chaotic and confusing world. Lack of routine causes confusion and that results in misbehaviour. If our children don’t know what is expected of them, when or why? They get confused, angry and upset.

It scares them not knowing when or what to do, or not to do as the case maybe? It’s best to have a routine in place that they are used to. Giving them a set of instructions that they can learn to follow, until eventually they become an automatic habit is best.

Once they are in the habit of say, having their tea at 4.30pm and going to bed at 7.30pm, let’s not break those healthy habits because it’s the school holidays.

If we do break them then, re-establishing that routine again when they return to school won’t be easy!

US Time

It’s great to spend family ‘Us Time’ together, but trying to please more than one child at the same time can be difficult. Each will have different interests from the other, and will likely try to compete for individual attention, but being blessed with more than one child can make finding time for each one challenging.

Although, generously giving of our time can become a stretch, each child will benefit from the attention of one on one time, making them feel special and important.

That’s why it’s important to factor in ‘US- Time’ for each individual child, by asking each one to write a list of the things they would like to do during US Time. One child may be a football fanatic but if your other child isn’t, then taking them to football matches isn’t going to be the time they will enjoy. Of course, they’ll be times when they will have to tag along, but this isn’t what we class as ‘Us Time’. Maybe the child who doesn’t enjoy football  can stay at a friends for a few hours, while you take the other child who enjoys football to the match?

But also try to find some common ground, family Us Time together is still important and finding things we all like to do, is a lot easier when we have a list to look at and can see where everyone’s preferences lie. So get all those individual lists together, including your own, and plan to do those things you all enjoy together, alongside individual Us Time.

But Us Time is not all about doing a certain activity or going anywhere in particular, it’s about being together. What’s most important is that you enjoy each others company and look forward to spending it together.

However, there are times when we all need some alone time too.

All children with time can grow to enjoy their own company, as long as they are given the opportunity to do so and receive adequate US Time, with us.

We’ll soon discover that after adequate Us Time that, our children soon bore of us and demand our attention less, naturally stepping back a bit, and giving us the space we need for U Time.

U Time

U time is exactly that, time just for YOU.

The truth is, even if we could give our children  a hundred hours a day, it would never be enough. Our children’s need for our time and attention is insatiable, and can never be constantly met, no matter how hard we try, or how much time we dedicate to them. We need to clearly communicate the importance of time just for ourselves to them, in a way that stops them from feeling rejected.

We can do this by explaining that, we won’t be able to devote time just for them later to do whatever activity they want to do with us, if we don’t finish what we need to do first.

We have to let them know in no uncertain terms, that we expect them to leave us alone to get on with it. Our children need more than a playmate from us, they rely on us for everything, including their clean clothes. So finding time to do chores, as well as time to pursue our personal goals is vital.

It’s not selfish to satisfy our own needs or do what we have to do, to provide the best life for our family. It’s the one thing that prevents us feeling resentment towards our children, for taking up all our time and energy. Therefore, it’s the most loving thing we can do for ourselves and our children. 

Sometimes we can fall into the parenting trap, of being so focused on our children that, we lose the desire to pursue our own dreams and ambitions.

If this sounds like you, then now would be a good time to list as many things as you can in ten minutes that you would like to do, if only you had more time. This is where writing your own list, when getting your children to write their lists for Us Time, is also handy for some U Time ideas and inspiration.

This will give you the clarity you need to discover what it is that you really want to do?

This list is not to include things such as spring cleaning your children’s bedrooms; this is the time to list those things that will make you happy when doing them, for no other reason than pure pleasure or relaxation.

Things like investing in a spa day, taking up windsurfing or whatever else happens to be your cup of tea. Try to be as adventurous as you can, but it’s not necessary. Even reading a book or going for a walk are great ways to spend time on you. All that matters is that it’s something for ‘You’ that ‘You’ really want to do.

MY U TIME LIST

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Having things to do that you look forward to will keep you balanced and refreshed, so don’t neglect U Time.

This will help provide some free alone time for our children to ponder and daydream, but it’s also a good idea to plan some activities to occupy them too, until they learn the skill of occupying themselves.

Free Play

Over the past fifteen years as a Childminder, I’ve had the opportunity to observe different age groups of children, all playing together. At the beginning of my career, I felt the need to structure and plan activities and to keep them all busily occupied.

Now, experience has shown me that children require as little adult intervention as possible, and more free choice and opportunities for spontaneous play.

This is when they have real fun and enjoy each other’s company, and when you hear real laughter and joy.

When we interfere or try to entertain them constantly, they don’t learn how to amuse themselves, and inevitably get bored when left to their own devices. This can lead to negative or positive attention seeking behaviours. 

Give them the props, materials and resources, and leave them to it. A bowl of water in the garden and some plastic cups, never ceases to entertain little ones. Or some junk household recycling, can be used to build and create any number of things from their imagination.

Its not about technology or toys or going to expensive softplay areas or days out, an afternoon in the garden or trip to the local park is just as good. School holidays needn’t be expensive, the best things in life really are free.

However, If you have children of varying ages, or you want to keep them happily entertained for longer, a little intervention or guidance and some structure can be good.

Finding ways to stretch an activity, as well as their imagination and concentration is useful. Like suggesting they paint a treasure map and write a short story to go with it, while writing some clues to find hidden treasure for us to find, that they can make from junk materials such as bottles and boxes or play dough. This can extend an activity and prolong their interest and creativity.

Sometimes we can give our children too much choice and this can overwhelm them. We may think that by giving them lots of toys or laying out different types of creativities to do that we are keeping them occupied, but this can have the opposite effect.

If we follow their every desire and whim, then no sooner than getting the paint brushes out, they will be onto the play-dough shouting ‘Finished what’s next?’


No sooner than getting the paint brushes out, they will be onto the play-dough shouting ‘Finished what’s next?

Leaving us exhausted and frazzled by the end of the day, as they un-contentedly and continuously flit from one activity to another.

Adding interest to an activity as in the above treasure map suggestion helps, but sometimes, we have to let them just get on with their own business of playing.

Until next week, enjoy the hols, stay sane, Stay Present,

Em x