Young Me: Daddy, can I go to…..
Daddy (before I finish my sentence): No
This was the story of my life growing up. At some point, I stopped asking to go out and accepted my fate at home. My older brother and sister are nine and seven years older than me, respectively. They went off to boarding school in England quite early, so growing up, I was left with my immediate younger brother, who preferred hanging out with his toys rather than humans. So except for playdates, it was me, myself and I. Staying at home and being bored became second nature to me. I learned stillness. I learned to be. I learned to appreciate my own company. I learned the world was not going to end if I stayed home all day. I learned I would not dissolve if I sat still. I learned that boredom was not that bad. Fast forward to present times, knowing me is knowing someone that is always up to something. I am always working on a project. I am always planning an event. I am always coordinating a team. However, the same Somachi can comfortably sit still and be by herself for as long as is necessary. I am that person that gets to the airport six hours early, excited about the wait.
Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, the lockdown has slowed down the pace of our daily lives, and being still is no longer an option but a necessary action. Like my Daddy, world leaders are saying No to any form of movement. Experts agree that the solution to this pandemic is stillness.
So why this post? I see an avalanche of children activities circulating on Social Media and memes of parents losing their minds engaging kids. I would humbly like to suggest that this is a perfect time to teach your children the act of stillness and dealing with boredom. It is great to keep your children engaged but it is also okay to let them be. The DKs know better than to approach me with “I am bored.” They are better off secretly handling their boredom than approaching me, because I have a million ways to engage bored people.
My sons have quickly learned to stay occupied. Sometimes, I catch them roaming the house or sitting on the stairs staring into space. I am not quick to suggest an activity for them as boredom has its perks. It is okay for them to be still, sit and stare, think, reflect, and if they doze off, hey…rest is always a great idea.
Parents should not feel guilty if children are bored, it is also not a call to action, because honestly there is no emergency when boredom sets in. The absence of activities, the stillness, and the nothingness helps children become resilient, creative, and appreciate their own company. Stillness makes us think, review, and reflect. When children have every second scheduled from the moment they wake up to the moment to go the sleep, what time is there for the child to take control or ownership of their time and daily schedule? Being bored as a child made me a thinker and now a researcher. It made me read everything in sight. It made me start journaling too. When with my cousins, we came up with loads of great activities. We scripted and acted plays, we made a family magazine, and we even hosted a beauty pageant for an estate.
With the current lockdown, this is a perfect time to teach children to be still. You can aid them by providing resources and books but challenge them to stay engaged creatively. This quarantine reminded me of some holidays when I was younger—weeks of figuring out what to do with my time. When I ran out of options, I just shadowed my Mum. I followed her everywhere hence my interest in education, gender issues, and politics. Having your child shadow, you is a possible option. Let your child be part of your routine and learn about what you do and assist your work from home tasks. It will be a great learning experience.
So next time you hear “I am bored” from a child, don’t fret; they will be just fine. Don’t feel pressured to offer solutions. Initially, the child may have a meltdown, but with time they will adjust to nothingness and start thinking of creative activities to engage themselves. Boredom does not hurt; it builds confident, creative, and focused young people.
- Boredom improves creativity: When children are bored, they start to daydream, daydreaming awakens their imagination and sparks creativity.
- Boredom makes children think and reflect: Research shows that stillness allows thinking deeply about one’s life.
- Boredom teaches children to manage their time: Children grow and leave home. Handling time is a skill that they need to learn. Parents should sometimes let children take ownership of their time.
- Boredom builds character: I tell my sons that only boring people get bored. Children should be challenged to be more interesting. Having hobbies like reading, baking, dancing, and so on keep children meaningfully engaged.
- Parents benefit too. Parents do not have to be part of a child’s 24 hours. As long as they are safe, they will be fine.
*DKs -Delta Knights