Summer boredom hasn’t really hit our house of young children yet, mostly because our summer doesn’t look that much different from the rest of the year. The main change is that my older son (5) isn’t going to afternoon JK anymore (2.5 hours). I considered enrolling my younger son (3) in part-time preschool but he wasn’t taken with it, so that got postponed. My husband and I are still working part-time and taking care of the kids mostly ourselves, with the shift that I’ve just started my maternity leave (no child yet ) so I’m home a lot more.
So no summer boredom, just the regular kind, from time to time. Without a name (currently, gratefully), but evident when a restless child lolls about on a couch and whinnies.
Sometimes, at times like these, I reflect upon the limited structured activities we provide for our kids. My older son has soccer once a week; my younger son music classes. No camps – not yet – just playdates. We intentionally keep structured activities low to encourage initiative and creative play, and because that’s the rhythm that fits better with our lives.
I know that the world outside the home can be filled with excitement and adventure, and of course this must be explored in time. But I also think that home can be a special place for centering oneself and a source of fulfillment too. Our children are welcomed and participate in our everyday lives, as well as their parents’ interests. So my husband gives them squash lessons (he’s a coaching pro), takes the kids swimming and biking almost everyday, and they do the gardening and yardwork together. With me it’s cooking and baking, crafting, and reading.
Our kids also know very well the routines of laundry, dishes, and broom and dustpan. They are thoroughly acquainted with the grocery, hardward, and bike repair shop. My older son pumps gas for the car.
I read Nathalie’s post on boredom earlier this week and it gave me pause. I remember being painfully idle and lonely during my childhood summers – there was no money, no caregiver, and no inkling about kid activities to pass the summertime. I can totally relate to Nathalie’s desire to keep her kids eons away from that reality.
I hope my husband and I are doing that, albeit through a different route. There is some money; we, the caregivers, and are around most of the time; and whatever mistakes we are making, we do have honest inklings about spending time together and making fun for ourselves.
I suppose that as much as I don’t want to under-stimulate my children, neither do I want to become their entertainer or their entertainment manager. I hope that while they enjoy capital A activities, they will also, after some restless minutes lolling about on the couch on a slow day, meander into the garden and poke at leaves and bugs and notice how a green tomato tastes different from a red one. I feel pleasure when, after playing for ages in a kiddie pool I set out for them in the backyard, my kids wander onto the back porch with spray bottles and spontaneously start washing the windows of our house. It’s about balance, I suppose, and our scales all tip at a different point. But for me, when the squeals and laughter of the water play – which I loved and recorded – are done, I find the quiet focus and engagement in my small window washers equally rich.