I'm Bored!

When I was young, I quickly learned that announcing I was bored brought on the intense displeasure of my mother. My brother, sister, and I didn’t say it very often because of that. Mom would say, “Only a boring person is bored! Go find something constructive to do!” Not very helpful when we couldn’t think of anything to do! Inevitably she would speak a list of things we could do, knowing full well we didn’t want to do any of them. “Go fold the laundry, and there are toys to pick up in the living room, and while you are at it, you could change the beds.” We would immediately run out of the house and go find something to do. Going outside was just the answer for my boredom! I never got tired of skipping rope, riding my unicycle, playing marbles with my brother, swinging on the swings, climbing trees, or the zillion of other things I could think of to do outside. Inside we played endless games of Scrabble, Sorry! and Monopoly. I also got really good at Jacks! I loved to doodle with colored pencils, and I liked to sit and read. I wasn’t an early reader. I remember not knowing how to read in second grade. We had just moved to a new state and I hid my lack of reading skills by pretending to be shy. So, when I actually learned how to read, I was really ready for a good book!
Reading a recent article in the newspaper about being bored really got me thinking. It stated that today’s many technological advances and devices don’t allow us to be bored. What if I had never been bored? What if I could have turned to my phone, the internet, video games, TV, or Netflix? Would I have developed the skills I have now? Would I love the outdoors and always be able to find things to do outside? Would I enjoy playing board games with my sister and brother and later with my own children? Would I have learned to enjoy reading? Would my art projects bring me joy?
I’ve recently read some studies about boredom. In each one researchers found that allowing oneself to be bored may increase a person’s creativity. I think my mom was right. Being bored–and finding ways to alleviate that boredom on my own–helped me become a more creative person. A creative person takes on boredom and turns it into something to do!
If you find your family turning on a device when boredom hovers, check out the list of ideas for screen-free fun in this great article, first published in Oak Meadow’s Living Education and later in Peggy O’Mara’s blog. It’s written by Deb Velto, mom, teacher, and Oak Meadow’s K-8 Program Director. I love her last sentence!