Why Is Bored A Dirty Word?

23/05/2012 11:39 | Updated 22 May 2015
Why is 'bored' a dirty word?Getty

It is only the beginning of the holiday, but I am already getting that tight feeling around my skull as I try to think up activities to keep the children amused that are both tolerable for me and don't cost the earth.

The trouble is contemplating a day when the children are left to their own devices is quite terrifying, but I am not sure why I feel such fear in the face of day with nothing to do.

Back in my own school days that was what the summer holidays were all about. I still remember that slightly aimless feeling I had in the first week or two of the long break. I was at a loss as to how to spend my days without the structure of school to fill them. But I soon settled into a relaxed rhythm of lazy days spent playing endless games by myself or off on bike riding adventures with whatever friends I could muster.

I don't recall my own parents laying on a plethora of activities to keep me entertained. In fact I don't think they arranged a single thing for me to do during my summer holidays until they packed me off on my first summer camp at 16 because they simply couldn't bear the sight of my sulky teenage face anymore.

If I said I was bored my mother would counter my moans by press ganging me into helping with some tedious domestic chore that made boredom seem quite fun in comparison.

I can't quite understand why I don't have the courage to try the same trick on my own sons.

This year I came downstairs on the first day of the holidays, my brow furrowed with worry. My husband instantly asked me what was wrong. 'I can't think of anything to do with the children', I wailed in response.

I had spent the last half hour fruitlessly trawling the internet for inspiration but had come up empty handed. I simply couldn't face yet another trip to any of the local attractions, all of which I have done to death over the past seven years of child raising and I can't afford trips to the eye wateringly expensive distractions my hometown of London has to offer.

Being a man after my mother's heart he suggested that the boys spend the day sorting out their overflowing toy cupboard, throwing out the games they no longer play with, and playing with those they wanted to keep. Brilliant, I thought to myself. The man is a genius.

That is until I put the plan to my sons. Cue tears and wobbly lipped sobbing that I had promised them a day out. All maternal bravery seeped out of my system and it's back to the drawing board.

But I can't help feeling a bit resentful. Why is it that the thought of standing up to my sons and leaving them to their own devices makes me feel so guilty? Surely being a bit bored is just part of the package of having six weeks off school? But us modern parents seem to have forgotten all about the value of boredom in a round of summer camps, foreign holidays and costly days out.

I suspect that if I were to stand my ground and force the boys to amuse themselves, they would soon knuckle down and discover ways to have fun. It is me who is terrified of hearing the words 'I'm bored' as for some reason it makes me feel as if I have failed in my self appointed role as fun mum.

But by taking away that element of boredom I might make myself feel better, but I know deep down that I am not doing them any favours. By hanging up the towel as entertainments officer I would give my children the chance to learn how to work through their boredom to come up with imaginative and original ways to fill their days. Perhaps this is what scares me, as it always seems to add up to mess and mayhem, but again my objection is all about me.

If I could only chill out and leave them be, then they would probably have far more fun during their summer holiday than any amount expensive timetabled children's activities could provide. I think it's about time this mum remembered that bored is not a dirty word.

Do you let your children be bored? Or do you worry about keeping them occupied in the holidays?

Suggest a correction