I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
March 20, 2019
Spring has definitely sprung, which means it’s officially time for moms across America to panic about summer break. The kids will be out of school soon, after all, and they’ve gotta have shit to do. So hire those babysitters, ladies! Fill out those sleepaway camp applications! Register for every sport camp, art camp, coding camp, dance camp, science camp, LEGO camp, acting camp, and history camp within a 20-mile radius! Do it now, because if you wait until April, everything will be full (if it isn’t already) and you’ll be stuck with them all day long. ALL SUMMER LONG.
I’ve been in this boat more years than I can count, marking my calendar and diligently signing my kids up for everything under the sun the moment registration opens, so that their summers would be chock full of activities and I’d have a precious few hours to get some work done. But now, my kids are getting older and resisting the day camp option, and for some reason, they now claim my ‘awesome educational day trips’ are neither interesting nor awesome. Boo, puberty. BOO.
Left to their own devices, I’m pretty sure my kids would be completely happy watching Netflix and playing video games all summer long — but I’ll be damned if I’m going to let them go all Wall-E under my watch. And so I’ve developed a radical new plan.
This summer, I’m giving my kids THE GIFT OF BOREDOM.
Oh, I’ll still let them enjoy their screens for a few hours a day — I’m not a complete monster. And we’ll still do plenty of fun summer activities together. But they’re also going to have down time. A whole lotta iPhoneless, Playstationless, Nintendoless, Netflixless down time. And during said down time?
They’re on their own.
I realize they’ll be completely bored during these times, at least at first, and I have to admit that part of me feels slightly panicked about this plan. Today’s Modern Mom isn’t really supposed to allow her special snowflakes to feel the pangs of abject boredom. Ever.
But then I think back to when I was a kid and summer break was three whole months long. I don’t remember ever attending a day camp back then and we definitely couldn’t afford overnight camp. We didn’t have cable TV and the Internet didn’t exist. And my mom sure as hell wasn’t about to play with me — In fact, now that I think of it, I don’t even remember my mom being in the same room with my brother and me during our endless summer breaks. It’s likely she was hiding. We were faced with days on end that were absolutely schedule and plan-free, unless we could come up with something on our own. And you know what?
We came up with plenty.
During the summer, I read a lot. Taught myself to draw. Rode my bike. Joined a neighborhood gang called the Tanglewood Tigers. (The youngest member was 5.) Played a dodgeball-like game called Pickle with the other kids on my street for hours on end. Put a wallet in the middle of the street attached to twine, hid behind a bush, and yanked it away every time someone stopped their car and got out to pick it up. Learned to knit. Played cards. Picked lots of flowers. Created a secret lair for our gang in the woods, complete with booby traps. (I’m telling you, the Tanglewood Tigers were ROUGH.) Went through a hundred pitchers of Kool-Aid. Learned to cross-stitch. Dressed as an elderly hobo with the girl across the street and went door to door, begging for ‘alms.’ (This actually went over surprisingly well with the neighbors.) Visited my grandparents for a month each summer, so that I could be bored in a new location, with unlimited Little Debbie snacks. Read the entire contents of my grandmother’s library. (I am now surprisingly knowledgeable about the romances of Grace Livingston Hill, the life of Dale Evans Rogers, and the many angels among us according to Guideposts!) Memorized some Shakespeare. Looked for four-leaf clovers. Played board games. And marbles. And jacks. Wrote to my penpal, an 80-year-old monk I’d met on a field trip.
In other words, not only did I survive boredom….I thrived.
My kids have a closet full of board games, art supplies, and craft projects. They have shelves full of books that haven’t yet been read. They have plenty of neighbors and nearby friends. I have no doubt that they’ll will be mad at me for the first few days and at a loss for what to do. I think I’ll just hide (thanks for the idea, Mom!) and let them figure it out.
I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.