A few months ago I decided to declutter. The problem wasn’t my house. (Well, actually the problem was also my house but that’s another story … ) No, in this case, the problem was my calendar.
I sat at my computer in early spring and looked at my kids’ proposed schedules for June, July and August. I saw day after day, week after week of stuff. Each month was crammed with camps, and classes, and classes that called themselves camps, and camps that called themselves “Summer Experiences.” And while some of the camps were necessary because my husband and I both work, an awful lot of them were not. A lot of the colored blocks on my calendar were there because -- if I’m being honest -- I didn’t want my kids, ages 5, 8 and 11, to get too bored over the summer.
Admitting that I was trying to inoculate them against boredom feels a little ridiculous. But it was true. I was filling up their summers and setting us up for three months of in and out of my minivan because I wanted my children to be enriched and engaged and -- ahem -- because I didn’t want to hear constant cries of “I’m Bored,” “I’m So Bored,” and “I Have Nothing To Do” (which would, inevitably, turn into “He Hit Me,” “He Hit Me First,” and “Mooooooooom!”).
But the truth was that my kids didn’t need to be so busy. Letting them slow down, hang out more at home and get really bored wasn’t awful. To the contrary. Most of us, not just our kids, could spend more time doing nothing. “It is only when we are surrounded by nothing that something comes alive on the inside,” child psychologist Dr. Vanessa Lapointe recently wrote in The Huffington Post. “Children need to sit in their own boredom for the world to become quiet enough that they can hear themselves.”
In an age when clutching digital devices while we sleep, eat and go to the bathroom ( 😕 ) isn’t considered weird, most of us can use more time sitting in our “own boredom.” Most of us need a lot more time to simply be alone with our thoughts. Necessity may be the mother of invention; but boredom is imagination’s cool aunt. And I haven’t confirmed it yet, but I doubt that William Shakespeare was over-scheduled, and I bet his parents were awesome about limiting screen time.
So, this past spring I went ahead and unenrolled my kids from camp and classes. Not all of the camps and classes (I mean, c’mon!), but a number of them.
Summer is just beginning … but so far so good! With less on their plates, my kids have been able to relax more at home -- and so have I. With less need to rush to get out the door, the pace inside our house has slowed down tremendously. There is more of a quiet stillness to our days. There is more time to just be. And there is more time do nothing at all. My children have already reached neural desperation (aka boredom) many times, which has led to the exciting discovery of a bird’s nest under the deck of our home, a significant increase in reading, a spectacular domino rally setup, a truly terrible magic show featuring tricks that required the audience members to close their eyes, and -- yes -- plenty of cries of “I’m Bored” and “Mooooooooom!”
We all deserve to indulge in the magic of a little “boredom,” away from our busy schedules. Snapple Straight Up Tea is the all-natural way to enjoy a true tea break, so you can take on the rest of the day.