Daddy, I’m bored

by Ron Haynes


Daddy, I’m bored, there’s nothing to do.

Nothing used to upset me more than when one of my three children would tell me they had nothing to do. “What?” I would exclaim, “You have video games, a PSP, cell phones, television, Facebook, skateboards, bicycles, computers, iPods, a piano, a guitar, baseballs, footballs, Frisbees, a tree-house, volleyball, and friends galore. How can you be bored?” Then one day I realized:

Boredom is the result of over entertainment.

What we think of as boredom is really the result of too much stimulation. Let’s face it: there’s always something to do. It may not be as entertaining as a concert or as exciting as car chases, saving the world from evil dictators, or parachuting into Africa to survive on bugs and weeds but there’s always something to do.

We live in a society that expects to be entertained and amused every waking hour and it isn’t cheap. We expect to be mentally stimulated by our spouses, our friends, our environment, and our jobs. If we aren’t, we’re told to ditch them for something or someone that revs our engine, that gets us excited, that ignites our passion.

While I do believe that we should pursue those things that truly interest us and that we find interesting and stimulating, I think we’ve taken that idea a bit too far and our emergency fund, our retirement, and our savings account all suffer. When those three suffer, we lose a little bit of our sense of security, and we sometimes seek to quell that by more stimulation and excitement. It’s a vicious circle, isn’t it?

1997 Amelia Island 2I can remember visiting my great grand-parents home in the early to mid 1970’s, sitting on the front porch, sipping some lemonade, rocking back and forth in the hand-made rocking chairs that Grand-daddy had made, and doing  — nothing. My great grand-parents and the kids weren’t the only ones on that porch either. So were aunts, uncles, grandparents, parents, and cousins. The kids would invariably jump off the porch to play in the yard with the dogs, or begin a game of hide-and-seek, or climb a tree, but there was no rush, no loud music, no blaring television, no ringing telephones (they had a shared ‘party’ line), and certainly no, “I’m bored!” Our demand for entertainment was limited to our interaction with each other … and no one was bored. I still remember jumping off that porch with my cousin Steve to run into the garden to eat strawberries right off the vine. No pricey entertainment there, but a lot of great memories.

What’s different today? I believe it’s the amount of entertainment we demand. We get fidgety, antsy, and downright irritable when we’re not connected to some sort of entertainment, whether it’s the Blackberry chirping on our belt or the television blaring about the latest bailout or the computer dinging about another email.

Relieve boredom by being quiet, getting back to nature, exercising, and returning to simplicity.

We even carry our demand for stimulation and entertainment on vacation. Cruise ships are quick to point out everything there is “to do” on board and off, a trip to the beach isn’t complete without riding go-carts or bungee jumping, going to the mountains means hiking, sight-seeing, and mountain bike rides, and everything has to include recreational shopping at an “outlet mall” as well as eating at a pricey restaurant. Our quest for excitement is quite expensive, but it doesn’t have to be.

When’s the last time you were in a truly quiet place? They’re few and far between these days. Take some time this spring, while the weather is getting nicer, to walk though a state or national park or a quiet wooded area. Bring your significant other or a child with you and just relax. Listen to the birds, the wind, and each other. Listen to that small voice inside you that helps you make wise decisions, and resolve to do this more often.

I can vividly remember a camping trip we took about 8 years ago when my three kids forgot to bring their toys. “Oh no,” my wife and I thought, “what are they going to do?” They made up a game with sticks and rocks. They explored around the campsite (it was a state park), we attended a campfire lecture about the history of the area told by a professor who dressed in period clothing, and we stared at the campfire, talking and connecting with one another. I never heard “Daddy, I’m bored.” on that trip, just the melodious sounds of laughing children, the wind rustling through the trees, the pop of a campfire and the quietness of nature.

Good stuff.

photo credit: anoldent

About the author

Ron Haynes has written 1001 articles on The Wisdom Journal.


The founder and editor of The Wisdom Journal in 2007, Ron has worked in banking, distribution, retail, and upper management for companies ranging in size from small startups to multi-billion dollar corporations. He graduated Suma Cum Laude from a top MBA program and currently is a Human Resources and Management consultant, helping companies know how employees will behave in varying situations and what motivates them to action, assisting firms in identifying top talent, and coaching managers and employees on how to better communicate and make the workplace MUCH more enjoyable. If you'd like help in these areas, contact Ron using the contact form at the top of this page or at 870-761-7881.


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{ 13 comments }

Carla

I so wish I can be bored sometimes! Life is so demanding (I know we all have a choice, but still…) it would be nice to have nothing to do, even if its just for a little while.

I do remember being bored as a kid myself at times. I had tons of books and toys, but hey, I think most children get “bored” at one time or another – justified or not.

Cody @ Dream Life Coaching

Great point, I agree, not only that it’s no wonder children are less attentive in school these days are labeled ADD, there is nothing wrong with them they are just bored. How can A B C’s compete with the pace and excitement of the Play Station and DVD’s? Mass over use of Ritalin, anyway, great article.

Cody

Melissa@frugalandthriving

What you say is so true and not just for children, as an adult I’m guilty of this too. It seems we spend every waking moment turned on and tuned in. As a kid we would play for hours in the yard with little more than our imaginations. Remember just lying in the grass? Now its hard to be in a quiet place. You are so right, we have forgotten how to be still because we are always so overstimulated.

NMPatricia

I agree with Melissa. It isn’t only the kids. Maybe my kids were able to find things that interested them. They didn’t have TV when they were growing up and reading was big – that and Leggos. However, I have found myself being “bored”. I know that is silly. I have “work” to do, projects to be done (that I chose), and wonderful things outdoors. However, I think it is overstimulation and the expectation that everything is wonderful and exciting 100% of the time. It is addictive – adrenalin rushes and spikes are. I am finding that I need to just appreciate the moment and not be doing something that provides a rush all the time. And learning how to do that without consuming is tough. (How pathetic does all that sound?) :sad:

LP

Our children didn’t say they were bored, until a neighbor moved in and their children said it all the time. Those children also repeated the phrase, “I hate school” a lot. So, the rule in our house was, our children simply could not say those 2 things. Our kids had a great time just being outside and “playing”. Fishing in the little creek, hunting bugs, catching frogs, playing ball, flying June bugs, or just witnessing to other children about the love of God. When they got “rowdy” in the house, I would just tell them, “go outside and play”. Kids, don’t “play” outside anymore! And parents don’t send them out either. Children need to be out of the house, for their own good and the peace of the parent. :-) I played outside until I was 16 years old. And, funny as it sounds, I remember my great grandmother, and my grandmother telling how they “played”, until they got married. Things are different now. And, I can’t say it’s for the best, either.

Admin

That’s one thing about my son that amuses me. While I hear about other kids spending copious amounts of time playing video games or glued to their computer, he wants his BB gun, a pair of rubber boots, and permission to go outside … especially if it’s raining! Give him a bike or a skateboard, or just a shovel (look out!) and he will entertain himself. He’s also regularly busy playing with another boy in the neighborhood, basketball, laser tag, making something out of scrap lumber, or just being a kid. This spring has had some moderate temperatures and has made it easier for him to enjoy being outdoors.

Nicki at Domestic Cents

What a great post. I very much agree with you. When I take the time to be quiet and still I can feel my body relax and my head clear. How difficult it is to raise kids that appreciate quiet, solitude and the simple pleasures of life in this society.

Alison Wiley

I agree that we’re overly entertained and need to take it all down a notch. It also sounds to me from your comment like you’re raising a very cool kid. I want to play outdoors with him!

V. Higgins

I love this post! When my husband and I were planning our honeymoon we decided that rather than attempt a trip to Hawaii or stay at the Grand Californian in Disneyland (a dream of mine) that instead, we wanted to 1) go someplace nearby that we could re-visit again without great expense and wouldn’t take hours of travel and 2) we wanted to just relax. I knew that if we went somewhere like Hawaii or even Disneyland (I’ve been so many times that I could mentally walk you through the entire park with each attraction and store) that I would want to “do”, I would feel obligated to “make the most of it”. After a year of wedding planning, family stress, adjusting to being out of college, the last thing I wanted on my honeymoon was to “do”. We went to a little coastal town, stayed at a B&B and mostly read, walked and relaxed together. We spent one day walking along the coast to the aquarium, but other than that, it was a heavenly 5 days of doing nothing. I couldn’t have asked for a better honeymoon.
Anyway, sorry for the long post but I just wanted to illustrate how doing nothing can be the best vacation of all.

Jeff@MySuperChargedLife

Great article! I really agree with this one and it isn’t just kids that fall into this trap. It seems that most of us are over stimulated and expect to be constantly entertained. The noise of life robs us of true pleasure. Ron, you’ve hit the nail squarely on the head here!

Kate

I love this post! It reminds me of the time when I forced my husband to watch one of those Jane Austen movies with me and afterwards, he looks at me and says, “Didn’t they get bored back then?” Personally, I think we all need to take a little time out from all the entertainment, stop checking the black berries, and just spend some time doing nothing. That time you get to clear your mind and relax is something we have devalued in our current go-go-go culture. It reminds me of one of the tips I read in a book I just read, too, called The Power of Small, where they say to “give yourself a minute”. We all need a chance to get bored, get creative, daydream, and entertain ourselves for a change.

Debbie

Good post. I remember wondering around the house when I was a kid saying I was bored and I’d get put to work by my dad. There was always cars to wash, grass to cut or rooms to clean. If I managed to duck that bullet, I was always able to find something quiet to do to avoid having to do work. I’d read a book, make a puzzle or just go for a walk.

My kids are now at the stage where they are ‘bored’ all the time. I find myself saying to them the same things my father and mother said to me when I was bored. I find myself glad they are bored. It’s seems those are the time when they become the most creative.

LP’s rule about not being able to say I’m bored may just be a new rule in my house now too. I like it.

Rana

We were never allowed to say we were bored when we were kids. If we did my mom would find some sort of cleaning project for me or my sister to do. We always made sure we had something to occupy our time, even if it was just sitting on the porch watching the world go by.

I find myself doing that now with my kids. I’ll say lets have some quiet time and we just sit together and look out the window , or lay in the grass. My son at 6 has even turned off the t.v. and said mom it’s too much noise let’s have quiet time. They dont know what it means to be bored. Because they realize they don’t always have to be doing something.

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