Modern parents are under a lot of pressure. We feel the need to ensure our kids’ success, to enroll them in the right activities, to throw pintrest-worthy birthday parties, provide homemade organic baby purees, and take instagrammable family vacations. In the age of fear and overparenting we are depriving our children of something essential: being bored.
Boredom is an important part of childhood.
You have many jobs as a parent, keeping your child entertained all the time is not one of them. And you are doing yourself and your child a disservice in trying. Independent play is something that children have to practice; constant stimulation and programmed activity deprive kids of the opportunity to be creative and self-motivating.
Letting your kids get bored might make your life easier.
When I am too preoccupied with trying to keep my daughter entertained, I fall behind on a lot of other things. Things that are actually a critical part of my job as a parent. If you expend all of your creative energy trying to keep your child busy, you will be exhausting yourself, and depriving the child of the opportunity to develop their own creative energy. Obviously you can’t just turn off the TV today and expect them to learn how to play by themselves tomorrow, it’s a process. But letting your kids be bored will eventually allow you and your children more independence.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t play with your kids.
Children obviously flourish when they get to spend quality time with a parent. They won’t always want to spend time with you, so cherish it while you have it. But when it is time to take a break from play so that you can wash dishes or make dinner, it’s not your job to find some other activity for the child. You don’t need to put the TV on in order to go fold laundry, and in doing so you are depriving them of an opportunity to practice entertaining themselves.
If your kid is used to constant stimulation, it will be a process to wean them off of that. Start small and be patient. The first time you try to wash dishes without putting something on for them to watch, they will probably pull your pants off trying to get your attention. But with patience and practice, little ones get better at entertaining themselves and soon you might hear them pretending to wash their own dishes.