BY NOW THE SCHOOL HOLIDAY CABIN FEVER HAS PROBABLY KICKED IN, BUT EVERY KID SHOULD HAVE THE LUXURY OF BEING BORED
My kids have nothing to do. Aren’t they lucky? I refuse to entertain them in the school holidays. I don’t schedule them into multiple activities and I don’t make plans to take them here, there and everywhere in between. The days are – like in a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon – wide open and, in this day and age of structure and schedule in which kids barely have time to sit still let alone play, I think it’s a gift to give them this freedom.
Other than a few hours of soccer training at a holiday camp for one of them, the kids have blank diaries for the holidays. There are no activities, no trips away and, most importantly, no schedule.
They know I’ll be at the desk working for much of the time they’re off and they’re used to it. They’re used to going back to school with “nothing” to report.
They have been given the gift of freedom and self-reliance during the holidays.
Their schedules during school term are ridiculously full, which is an issue that distresses me. At 11 and nine, they already have no time to play in the afternoons and haven’t had for at least the past two years. I don’t even let them do many activities and they’re still over-scheduled with homework.
So, come the school holidays, the shackles are off. The expectations are off and they have all day to pretty much do as they please, provided it doesn’t involve a screen. Bike riding and heading to the park.
Board games and the good old-fashioned sibling punch-ups that inevitably signal the end of those games. Baking and creating in the kitchen. Trips to the library to stock up on a pile of books and then spending the afternoon in a cosy spot working your way through them. Visits to Nan’s place and trips to the beach to collect shells. Eating when you’re hungry and not when a bell rings to schedule it in.
Childhood is so short for kids these days and I’m not sure anyone other than parents is noticing. The workload and expectations placed on kids before they reach even halfway through primary school is extraordinary and their days are often as long or even longer than an adult working a full-time job. As well-meaning parents who want only the best for our kids, it’s tempting to over-schedule their time.
Opportunities abound in our society for kids to try anything and everything.
But a little boredom and a lot of freedom can be the best thing we can give to them.
Take a ball, find a stick, hang out in the street talking to the neighbours, feel the sun on your face and the salt water on your skin.
It makes me sound old, but I am more than envious of the fact my kids are being forced to be a little bit bored!