Are we afraid to let our kids feel bored? Our writer explains why her she has decided to stop entertaining her kids.
My husband was chatting with one of our kids the other day. For some unknown reason, he was trying to hype up the weekend.
“On Friday we are going to a BBQ with bouncy castles.”
My kid didn’t even try to fake some excitement for her inflatable future fun. Instead, she gave a non-committal, “sure”, as if she was agreeing to do some chores around the house.
My dream night
If someone offered to take me out for dinner and then let me bounce around for a few hours as a kid, I would have been on cloud nine. Actually, if someone was to offer that to me today It would probably be the highlight of my summer.
It would be a dream to have someone else will make me dinner and then I actually get to go into the bouncy castle instead of waiting in line for it for an hour just to stand outside while my kids get to have the best time ever.
Back in the day
I can’t even remember going to bouncy houses growing up (were they invented? Am I that old?), instead we would occasionally visit my grandfather who had an old-school trampoline.
There were no nets in the 80’s, so we had to make sure not to annoy our siblings too much or risk hitting the pavement when they ‘accidentally’ hip checked us off.
Once a summer my dad would pile us into the Astro van for our annual trip to Canada’s Wonderland. It would be the highlight of our summer. If we were really good, he would let us eat some fast food in the Flintstone cars instead of warm egg salad sandwiches in the parking lot.
Freedom and baseball
While these memories are the highlights of my childhood summers, they were certainly not the norm. The norm was spending the whole weekend watching my parents play baseball tournaments in random parks.
My siblings and I would find our own adventures on nearby playground structures or exploring the woods. We had the choice of entertaining ourselves or we were stuck watching middle-aged house league baseball for eight hours a day.
My parents weren’t afraid of us being bored. In fact, they did not feel responsible for my entertainment. Instead, I was left ‘to play’ and it was expected that it would be done quietly and without whining.
While we would often play cards or board games as a family, I would never bother asking my parents to pick up a Barbie and join in my games.
I want to give my kids every kind of magical experience I can as a parent, but it seems the more I give, the less they appreciate.
Turning the corner
In fact, I spent 10 minutes teaching my middle daughter how to wash and fold laundry and I got a better reaction than I ever have at a play place. The same kid who half-heartedly agreed to a bouncy house declared it was the ‘best day ever’ because I let her push start on the washing machine.
She gave the reaction I expected for the bouncy house to performing mundane chores around the house. I think I have finally figured out how to give my kids their dream summer…and me a clean house.
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Parent Life Network or their partners.