How to Get Some Peace: The Flip Side of Boredom

Ah, the lazy days of summer. When was the last time you had a lazy day? And when did being lazy get such a bad rap?

During much of the year, most of us are racing through life, clutching our never-ending to-do lists. So when we are faced with down time, especially during our vacations, we feel antsy and bored. We look for something productive to do. We feel the need to get busy. And we make sure our kids are busy too; heaven forbid they complain they’re bored.

What do you do when you hear your kids chant the dreaded “I’m bored”? If you are like most parents, you feel obligated to entertain them so that boredom is immediately alleviated.  

But have you ever considered that it’s okay to be bored? That it’s even desirable – a beautiful luxury?

I’ll be the first to admit that doing nothing is not an easy thing to do – especially for high-achievers who value accomplishment (can you relate?). But with a new perspective and a little practice, it can be done.

What I considered boredom was actually the gateway to peace. Until I could learn to be “bored,” I’d never get to the calm on the other side.

– Cheryl Richardson

Think back to when you were a kid – before you got that first summer job. No planned activities, no rushing here or there, just the endless days of summer to simply play, hang out, and daydream. No stress, no sense of overwhelm – just calm. Could you give that gift to your kids? Could you give it to yourself?

If you are willing to allow yourself and your kids to experience a little boredom, do nothing until the initial feeling of restlessness passes, you just may find the peace-of-mind you’ve been searching for.

There’s only a few weeks left before the kids go back to school and summer becomes a distant memory. Before it’s over, I invite you to resist filling every moment of the day (for both you and your children) and enjoy some unstructured time. Resist the urge to rescue your kids (and yourself) from boredom. This exercise may even inspire you to reduce the number of activities you enroll the kids in (and the commitments you take on) during the school year. Just give it a try and let me know how it goes.



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This post has 5 comments

  • Tatiana Storai says:

    Sometimes I think back to my childhood and remember when I was bored, I used to go to my mom and tell: ‘I don’t know what to do….’ she answered: ‘lucky you, I don’t know how to do everything I have to!’. So when I see today’s children having every hour of the day full I think I was really lucky and I plan to give to my little girl who is only 17 months old a little boring time in her life too 😉

  • Kim says:

    I am just back to work today after a week and a half of vacation. Our vacation was spent RELAXING with very few timelines (soccer and picking up a friend). We woke when we woke, ate when were hungry, went for walks, swims, drives and spent time visiting many of our family. I also read two entertaining novels! At work, everyone wants to know what we did. When I tell co-workers that we spent our time relaxing and that we didn’t “go away”, they think I have wasted my time off.

    I did have some projects that I wanted to do. I didn’t complete them all, but I did a little when I felt like it and I’m okay with that. Our society is too caught up in the constant need to “do something”. Even the pastor at our church said that people need to stop taking “me time” and get busy.

    • sylvie says:

      Good for you Kim, I find it so wonderful the way you were able to make “whatever you want to do” your vacation of choice. You even got a little bit of projects done but were completly ok with not doing it all… and the best thing… sleeping in and reading… sounds amazing. Maybe if more people did that, instead of the cliché holiday choices… they’d come back to work more rested, more satisfied and with more money in the bank… it’s a win win choice in my opinion.

    • Cari says:

      You have inspired me, Kim! Our vacation is coming up in a couple weeks and we had already decided to stay home for it. And we were already cramming it full. I have the never-ending “to do” list, even with the things I enjoy — which kinda sucks the fun out of them. I love the idea of a different rhythm, a relxing, enjoying time. Time off to actually be “time off.” Thank you for sharing this! And thank you, Helen, for sharing such wisdom!

  • It’s true. The lazy days of summer can be the most restful. My husband took our girls fishing today. They caught nothing, but loved the quiet anticipation. A cycle with the family and corner store ice cream was so refreshing a few days back. How great to sit by the water and read a good book, at any age. I agree that summer’s have become too programmed. My young kids enjoy a game of cards and watching re-runs of the Andy Griffith show. Resting certainly brings refreshment. It doesn’t have to come at big costs or even big chunks of time.