Our Biggest Sale of the Year is Here!🎄 ➔

School is out and my kids are bored. Not just “bored” they are “BOOOOOOOOOORED” (said while flopping over the edge of the couch). I know this can be the cue for some parents to sign them up for robotics camp or ship them off to Grandma’s or hand them a screen of some kind. Resist, Moms. We can get through this summer slump together, but it requires repeating what has become my summer mantra:

Their boredom is not my problem.

Boredom is not a problem to be solved at all. It’s an accomplishment in and of itself. It is the step right before innovation and discovery. When we jump in to “rescue” our kids from boredom, we’ve taken away their ability to develop an important life skill– entertaining yourself.

Mothers are not cruise ship entertainment directors. We are not responsible for making our children’s lives into some enchanting Disney musical. We need to keep them safe, fed, loved and then back up and let them be people who learn how to deal with life and the challenges it throws at them. Even the challenge of boredom. So here’s what to do when your kid gives you the “I’m BOOOOOOOORED!” whine:

Do. Nothing.

Keep doing what you were doing. Keep bopping through the house putting away the laundry. Go ahead and keep working on that email to your mom. Handle your work phone call (if the whining isn’t too loud). Go out and water your plants. Let them sit there on the couch in their own boredom until their brain comes up with a solution.

Or, you can offer them some solutions. Solutions that combine empathy with practicality. “Oh no! You’re bored? Shoot. I know just how to fix that. Here are the 10 potatoes I need to have peeled for dinner tonight. Good luck!. . . Oh, did you come up with something else to do? Look at you! You weren’t that bored at all!”

In fact, I think the source of a lot of boredom is us. We do too much for our kids. They’ve got free time because they didn’t make their own breakfast or make their bed or empty the dishwasher. When you’ve got a certain amount of responsibility in life, you come to appreciate the down moments. How many times when your kids are whining about boredom do you think (or even SAY), “What I wouldn’t give to be bored right now.” We cherish boring times because we appreciate that break from our responsibilities.

We may even jump in to “fix” their boredom because their potential creativity inconveniences us. It’s much easier to hand my kid a screen than have to manage the conflict that inevitably comes from imaginary play with their siblings or clean up the mess that happens when you decide to make a pirate ship out of the couch cushions and EVERY BLANKET WE OWN. When we jump in to give them boredom solutions we are often imposing our adult priorities on their kid brains instead of letting them figure out their own imaginative and out-of-the-box responses to their boredom. 

Before my kids can play, they have a small list of tasks they need to complete. SIMPLE things: Eat breakfast, get dressed, clothes in the hamper, tidy room, brush teeth, make bed, help Mom with one chore. By the time they’re done with that list, they are anxious to bust out the front door and find something to do. And when they come back in 30 minutes later, they know if they tell me they’re bored I will remind them of the host of toys, games, books and craft supplies we have. If they can’t find something to do from those options, I will be HAPPY to solve their boredom by giving them ways they can contribute to the family by helping me. Chores aren’t a punishment, they’re just my kids assisting me with what I’m doing anyway. Our home is where I do the work of homemaking and they are welcome to participate with me if they’ve run out of other options. 

I know you can find plenty of lists out there of “10 Summer Boredom Busters” and the like, but I think that misses the heart of the problem. I remember my mom saying, “Bored people are boring.” and I think there’s truth in that. We don’t want our kids to be the kind of people who need constant entertainment in order to be content. We want them to be creators and not just consumers. Creation requires a moment of boredom followed by a moment of inspiration. Why would I want to “bust” that process? 

So leave your kids alone. Let them be bored and consider that an accomplishment worthy of celebration. In a world of constant entertainment and consumerism, your kids have achieved boredom! Well done. Now sit back and see what they do with that opportunity. 

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Maralee Bradley

Maralee is a mom of six pretty incredible kids. Four were adopted (one internationally, three through foster care) and two were biological surprises. Prior to becoming parents, Maralee and her husband were houseparents at a children’s home and had the privilege of helping to raise 17 boys during their five year tenure. Maralee is passionate about caring for kids, foster parenting and adoption, making her family a fairly decent dinner every night, staying on top of the laundry, watching ridiculous documentaries and doing it all for God’s glory. Maralee can be heard on My Bridge Radio talking about motherhood and what won't fit in a 90 second radio segment ends up at www.amusingmaralee.com.

Sometimes Growth Is Tangible, and When It Is You Hold On Tight

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mom putting bike helmet on child

I never expected my sign to come in the form of a plastic bag. As a parent, you’re told over and over how fast it all goes, to cherish these times because they’re gone in a blink. You see the gradual changes in your kids as they move through milestones. One day, they can hold their own spoon. They begin stringing words into sentences. Their ages are counted in years and no longer months. You watch these things happen every day, but I didn’t realize some transitions would come in tangible ways, like a grocery bag filled with wet swim...

Keep Reading

Some Nights They Need You a Little More

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy sleeping, color photo

Some nights they need you a little more, mama. Because of the bad dreams or the bogeyman they are adamant is under the bed. Because firefighter daddy’s schedule leaves him missing goodnight tuck-ins and bedtime stories several times a week, sometimes leaving them a little needier and more emotional. Some nights they need you a little more, mama. RELATED: I’ll Lay With You As Long As You Need, My Child Because they are sick. Because they feel safe in your presence. Some nights they need you a little more, mama. It’s not always easy. It’s not always (okay, hardly ever)...

Keep Reading

Sweet Babies, I’ll Be There

In: Kids, Motherhood
Two children lying in bed, color photo

When your world is calm and peaceful, I’ll be there. When your world is chaotic like an ice cream shop on the hottest day of summer, I’ll be there. When you need a Band-Aid applied and a boo-boo kissed, I’ll be there. When you want to perform in your Frozen microphone like you’re performing for a crowd of 20,000 people, I’ll be there. When you feel lost and alone, I’ll be there. When you feel you have nowhere to go, I’ll be there. RELATED: I Will Always Be There When You Need Me, My Son When you need a pep...

Keep Reading

I’m in the Big Little Years

In: Kids, Motherhood
black and white photo of little boy and little girl standing in a window together

I’m in the big little years. It’s when you’re no longer in the tender season of babies and toddlers—those sweet, smothering, exhausting years of being constantly touched and needed . . . . . . but you’re not yet in the big kid years—navigating boyfriends and driver’s licenses and bracing your heart for the impending ache of an empty nest. I’m somewhere in between. I’m in the years of having littles that aren’t so little anymore, but still need you for so much. They have big feelings. Big ideas. Big dreams. But they have mostly little problems (even though they...

Keep Reading

1-Year-Olds Are Wonderful

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood, Toddler
1 year old baby smiling

Newborns—who doesn’t love them?  The captivating scent of a brand new baby, their fragile little bodies laying so delicately on your chest. Everything that comes with a newborn baby is just absolute magic. But have you ever had a 1-year-old? I used to think the newborn phase was my favorite, nothing could ever be better than having such a tiny helpless little human rely on you for absolutely everything. I could hold my newborn for hours, soaking in every tiny little detail before it became nothing but a beautifully distant memory. But I’ve realized it’s 1-year-olds who have a special...

Keep Reading

My Kids Are All in School Now and It’s a Little Lonely

In: Kids, Motherhood
Woman looking out window alone

I had just dropped my children off at school. All of them. My youngest has just started full-time. It was my first full day on my own since she began, and I had really been looking forward to it, so I took myself into town to do a bit of shopping and grab a coffee. Just me. The kind of days dreams are made of, right? I could suddenly breathe again.  I only had myself to answer to.  I got my latte and something to eat. And then I cried.  My eyes filled with tears as I sat in the...

Keep Reading

I Love You Even When I Say I Don’t

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and daughter touch foreheads

“I love you even when I say I don’t.” These words came out of nowhere from my 5-year-old. I was standing in the bathroom with her (we still don’t like to go potty without mommy standing right there), and she wouldn’t look at me while talking to me. You see, my 5-year-old and I have been in more spouts than ever before. She’s found this new attitude in her first couple months of kindergarten, coming home with new phrases including, “No, I don’t want to–you do it.” It hurts my heart, makes me frustrated, and leaves me asking myself where...

Keep Reading

Big Questions at Bedtime Don’t Require Perfect Answers

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and child at bedtime

Last night at bedtime, my son asked why everyone has to die one day. The thought of my sweet 7-year-old grappling with the weight of such a question hurt my heart. He looked so small tucked under a fleece blanket, clutching his favorite stuffed panda. How could the same little boy who just started second grade wearing a space backpack stuffed with bright, wide-ruled notebooks ask such a thing?  Perhaps my children are more aware of the inevitability of death than other kids their age due to the passing of various family pets over the past few years, or perhaps...

Keep Reading

If Someone Needs a Friend, Be a Friend

In: Friendship, Kids, Motherhood
Three kids with backpacks, color photo

“If someone needs a friend, be a friend” it’s the running joke in our family. My husband will say the phrase to our four kids when discussing certain life situations in a lovingly mocking type way. They’ll all look at me and chuckle. I giggle a little myself at the corniness of it. But I always add, “It’s true.” It’s a phrase I’ve used more times than I can count. To teach them all to be includers—the kind of kids who look for the kid having a bad day and seek to brighten it, the kind of kids who stand...

Keep Reading

I Hope My Daughter Always Hears My Voice

In: Kids, Motherhood, Toddler
Toddler girl putting on sock, color photo

“Dots on bottom. Stretch over toes,” she mutters to herself while independently putting on her tiny toddler socks. I must have said those words to her about a thousand times and responded to “Mama, help” even more . . . modeling how to correctly put them on until the moment she finally pushed me away and insists on executing this task herself. When I believe I sound like a broken record, what I’m actually doing, as it turns out, is imparting wisdom . . . “Uh oh, try again,” she declares when her tower topples. “Chew first, then talk,” she...

Keep Reading