A month ago, I felt called to give my kids a more boring childhood. No, I’m not punishing them. No, I’m not being lazy. And, no, I’m not being cheap.
I know how it must sound. The word “boring” tends to be seen as a bad thing these days. When social media is full of kids receiving the newest, shiniest toys and gadgets, families going on lavish vacations around the world, and influencers sharing their latest adventures, how could I ever think of giving my kids less?
I had always thought giving my kids more things, more plans, and more travel was the key to a beautiful childhood. I was beginning to feel overwhelmed as I continued the pursuit of more for my kids. I was feeling lost in the pressure of being present with my family in overstimulating environments. I found myself falling down daily comparison rabbit holes as I scrolled through my socials.
And then I was introduced to a whole new perspective.
One day, I had taken my daughter to one of our local splash pads when this older man began talking to me. He shared stories of the simple fun he had in his childhood and how he was working to give his grandchildren the same.
“When the grandkids come over, we spend our days fishing, chasing crabs, playing in the mud, and throwing rocks. They’re the simplest of activities—some may even call it boring—but the kids love every second of it,” he told me.
As we continued talking, he shared with me what may be the most valuable piece of advice I have received in my parenting journey so far.
“Raise them with as little as possible. They’ll have a greater chance of happiness when they can find joy in the little things.”
His words hit me like a ton of bricks. Was I crushing myself under this pressure for no reason? Could raising my kids to be happy really be so simple?
I contemplated his words for days. I recalled my own childhood, searching for the memories I cherished most.
After much thought, I came to realize my favorite childhood memories stemmed from boredom. I thought of the many times I played hide-n-seek or the floor is lava with my family on rainy days inside. I thought of running through the yard as my parents chased me and my siblings with the water hose when we had nothing else to do. I thought of my hours spent experimenting in my grandma’s kitchen with my cousin while she did her daily workouts. These memories were so simple, but they light my heart with joy to this day.
In my moments of boredom, I learned to create my own fun. Creating fun isn’t the only skill I learned from boredom, though. I learned to problem-solve. I learned patience. I learned how to be alone with my thoughts.
You see, my childhood was not shaped by the moments I was entertained. My childhood was shaped by the moments I created entertainment for myself. As I came to realize this, the more wise that simple piece of advice seemed to be.
Our kids don’t need more. They need us. They need simplicity. They need boredom.
As I continued talking to that man, he told me he believes that our culture of more will lead the next generation to be unhappy and unable to enjoy life for what it is. Boredom and simplicity taught us to notice the little things and take greater joy in them. It taught us to bask in the sunshine, to feel our emotions wholeheartedly, and to cherish the feeling of mud oozing its way through our fingers.
If our kids are constantly chasing the next big thing, how will they learn to love the flower’s blooms? How will they learn to revel in the taste of a ripe strawberry in the summer? How will they learn to understand the inner workings of their mind and soul?
I want to raise my little ones to relish in life’s little joys. I want them to love life’s little moments. I want the big moments to feel monumental. More than anything, I want my children to know contentment and joy, even when the mundane is all they have.
That man gave me the wake-up call I so desperately needed. Call it fate. Call him my family’s guardian angel. Call it a sign. No matter what you want to call it, I have heard it loud and clear.
I’m done chasing extraordinary. I’m done chasing more. I’m ready to chase contentment, simplicity, and boredom.
This summer, we will be creating magic in the mundane. We will be catching fireflies in the backyard. We will chase each other through the sprinkler. We will spend hours getting our hands dirty in the garden.
So, cheers to a “boring” summer. I am looking forward to it.