BOREDOM: The Doldrums of Summer, or the Seed of Creativity?

BoredomDo you fight boredom along with the morning traffic and the neighbor’s barking dog? Do you schedule your kids’ summers in order to avoid it?

If so, I challenge you to play a little game of truth or dare about this common and multi-faceted feeling. And I promise you won’t be bored along the way…


Truth: Out of Boredom is Born Creativity

Do you just looooooooovve being bored?  No, of course not.  And that’s because the defining characteristic of boredom is a feeling of dissatisfaction and no one likes that feeling.  According to scientists who research different kinds of boredom, bored folks are compelled to change their circumstances and ditch the boredom.

Ditching the boredom comes about by daydreaming creative activities that are more interesting and satisfying than what you’re experiencing and acting to make your wildest daydreams come true.

And this is exactly how boredom can actually prompt creativity—the more bored you are, the more creatively you’ll work to stop being bored.


Truth: The Role of Boredom—the Good, the Bad, & the Ugly

So while not all boredom is bad, it’s important to be “boredom savvy” so that you can keep an eye on whether or not the boredom you experience is healthy and doesn’t lead you to be bored to death.  Take a look below for a crash course:

The good—it inspires you to find creative solutions to boring situations

The bad—it can lead to un-useful and unhealthy repetitive behaviors like nail-biting, hair-twisting, or overeating

The ugly—sustained boredom can lead to perpetual bad habits and feelings of unhappiness


Truth: Boredom Develops Self-Care Skills

“Mom, I’m bored!”

Something we’ve all heard, I’m sure. Many parents race around looking to provide stimulating activities when they hear this from their children.  And if they cannot find anything to make the boredom go away, the ol’ iPad or Xbox usually does the trick…

But what happens if you just let your child be bored?

Chances are that after a while, their creative brains would conjure up some fantastical game or come up with unanswerable questions.  In essence, they would find a way to satisfy their boredom.

By letting your children be bored, you are helping them develop self-care skills, which means that the road to self-sufficiency can indeed begin way before they go off to college—yay!


Dare: Be Bored!

Go ahead, try it! How, you might ask? The key to being bored is to quit overscheduling.  Summer is a lovely time for you and the kids to dwell in being bored a little bit instead of packing in every last camp, activity, and lesson.  Here are some ideas to help you get started:

  • Leave half a day BLANK on your calendar next week
  • Only use your phone to make calls and you’ll be sure to get your feet wet with being bored
  • Don’t sign up your child for yet another camp—the summer is a time when he or she ought to blissfully enjoy the extra-long daylight without an agenda

And the big one…

  • Cancel your weekend activities and have a mini “boring” stay-cation. That’s right—one whole weekend without dinner plans, movie tickets, or play dates.  Up for the challenge??

As you practice being bored this summer, remember that true boredom is different than downtime.

Penciling in downtime on your calendar will help you relax and rejuvenate and is best done in frequent and regular small chunks of time.

Allowing yourself to be bored, on the other hand, means that you have to commit to leaving your schedule open for longer periods of time and not avoid boring days like the plague.

So are you bored yet?