Munchkin's vocabulary is rather limited, so she can't say "I'm bored" yet, but Monkey has taken to asking, "What are we going to do NOW?" followed by "THEN what are we going to do?" signaling he is this close to finding the day's activities insufficiently entertaining. When Monkey starts asking to watch a TV show or play a computer game I know it's not only time for me to help redirect him, but teach him to find something else to do. As a parent, I have a lot of responsibilities, but keeping my kids busy 100% of the time is not one of them. I learned that lesson thanks to my mother who would constantly tell my twin sister and I that we were not allowed to use the word "bored" at home. If we were bored, it was our own fault and we were responsible for becoming un-bored.
I've been gradually teaching this lesson to the kids so I was happy to discover the incredible book, "The Princess Who Had Almost Everything" at my local library. The principal character is known for grumbling, whining and yelling that she is bored all day long. The princess' parents give her everything a princess can dream of, but it's not until someone teachers her to DO something that she stops being bored. This has, luckily, become a favorite among my kids.
Judging by current articles on parenting, my generation of mothers is hell bent on protecting their children, providing for their every need and stimulating them almost every minute of every day. My view is that while we are meant to protect our children, a parent's main purpose is to prepare their children for the future. That future doesn't mean just college, it means sleepovers, week-long camps and school trips where they will have to be able to set the table, fold laundry and entertain themselves with nary a parent in sight.
Since I'm home full-time, it's sometimes hard to not only draw the line of how I keep the kids amused, but maintain it. Sure I could turn on the t.v., but if I don't. the kids will find something to do. I could also play with them every second of the day, but that's not a sustainable reality. (Won't they also get tired of me?) I could create a day full of activities from 8am to 5pm, but that would be exhausting for everyone. Sometimes I go back and forth on when to give in to t.v. or a distracting treat (Rainy day? Exhaustion? General grumpiness?) but I found a good analogy for a reason to not consistently give in when visiting the mall two weeks ago.
I had met my friend by the infamous kiddie trucks to entertain our kids on a rainy day. Most days Munchkin and Monkey climb on and off the school bus or take turns driving the train and sports car, without spending money to turn on/start up/shake/whatever the play vehicles. This time I let each of my kids pick a vehicle to spend $1 to ride. They each gleefully smiled and enjoyed the ride, but when it was over, Monkey asked for more money. When I said no, he pouted for a minute and then badgered me to check if I had more money for rides just in case. I realized that no matter how many dollar bills I gave the kids, I was going to eventually run out. Whether I had $1 or $20, there was going to be a time where the kids were going to have to make believe on the bus again. The sooner I teach them that, the better they'll become at getting over the boredom bump and coming up with a million different ways to have fun, without my help.