I’ve heard it said that playing is the very important work of children. In fact, it’s benefits are so great that the American Academy of Pediatrics has entered the discussion, offering statistics and recommending “free-play” times. Without getting bogged down in the easily accessed and quite shocking statistics, it’s easy for most of us to recognize that our kids are spending a lot more of their time in front of a screen or at a structured event (school, sports, etc) and much less time in unstructured free-play than we did as kids.
Free-play has great benefits for our kids, aside from the obvious fun factor. Those benefits include the gain of creativity, development of social skills and reduction of obesity. Other less obvious benefits, according to some of the statistics I read, were lessened symptoms of ADHD and childhood depression. Kids who enjoy free-play outside (known as free-range kids in some circles) also benefit from less Vitamin D deficiency and better vision, specifically less nearsightedness.
This is all such good news! Put simply, it means that it’s okay for us parents to let our kids get bored. We can let ourselves off the hook a bit when it comes to planning activities for our kids and/or enrolling them in expensive lessons to fill up their days. Boredom is good, because it leads to free-play. Free-play leads to exploring the world, building things and getting in and out of arguments with siblings and friends. It sometimes leads to messes and even a skinned knee or two, but that’s just part of childhood. How much time did you spend at free-play as a kid? How much time does your kiddo spend? How much time did you spend playing outside with minimal supervision/intervention and is it the same for your kids?
Here’s to staying home for the day, unplugging the screens and letting the kids get bored! Maybe they will build a fort or play with some of their toys. Perhaps they will trek out into the mighty backyard jungle to explore the “great tree" (a common play theme at our house these days). Maybe the jungle gym will magically turn into a grand pirate ship. They may even start their own daredevil circus!
I’m officially (well, as officially as I can) deeming Monday and every day thereafter, Let You Kids Get Bored and Find Their Own Fun Day. Let your hair down, mom, and tell the kids to go play!
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Hope you’ll leave me a comment about this topic of play. What was your favorite thing to do as a kid? What was the biggest trouble you got yourself into while free-playing and did you find a way to get out of it? What do your kids do when they get bored? Look forward to hearing from you. :)