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How to Respond When Your Kid says the Dreaded Phrase “I am Bored”

Are you tired of hearing “I am bored:” We are mothers, not entertainers. Do this instead of giving in!

I am writing this only moments after I kicked my daughter out of our house.

Okay. That sounds dramatic. I sent her to a neighbors yard to play as I slouched, defeated, on our front porch steps.

However, I did stand silently in our front yard, with crossed arms and a sour expression, beckoning her to go play.

The events that transpired prior to our battle were similar to almost every other day since I had my first child – almost ten years ago.

My kids want something to do, so naturally they look to me. I feed them, dress them, bathe them, and love on them until my practically oozes out of my eyeballs; however, they have an unfulfillable need for me to provide constant entertainment for them.

My patience is wearing thin when it comes to being my kids’ jester, fun planner, and event organizer.

Nothing makes me cringe more than the term “I’m bored”.

Rewinding to the 90’s: Bored was a Good Thing

When I think back about my childhood in the 90’s, I remember two things:

  1. I thought my parents were the greatest parents on earth
  2. We didn’t rely on my parents for fun

For the record (because I know my mom will read this), my parents were very active parents. They took us on bike rides, hikes, vacations- you name it, we did it.

BUT, in-between the family fun, we occupied our own imagination. We didn’t need a parent to sit with us to play Barbie’s or build an outdoor fort. In fact, we didn’t want them around during play time.

I remember sitting in a restaurant playing “family” with my sisters, using only forks and spoons as the people.

So, what has changed that created kids who need parents to supply the fun and entertainment?

Related: Learn What Enmeshed Parenting is and Helicopter Parenting (So you can Avoid it!)

The Mom-Guilt Movement

I’ll tell you what I think changed: the “mom guilt trend”.

While I fully agree that it is important to share our honest feelings and acknowledge our uncomfortable moments, I feel we are over-sensitizing ourselves to “mom guilt”.

As moms, we need to have more conversations around what we are doing right – not what we are doing “wrong”. Or what we feel like we are doing wrong (which really isn’t all that wrong).

Personally, I have always had a lot of mom guilt around how much fun I am supplying for my children. I believe this is the direct outcome of social media. I feel a sense of failure when I see other moms doing crafts and fancy activities with their kids.

Instead of being proud that my kids are emotionally healthy and happy, I am upset that we didn’t construct a glitter covered, paper mache rainbow to hang on the front of the fridge.

You may also enjoy: The Dying Art of Letting Kids be Kids

I am Your Mother, Not Your Entertainer

So, to all those kids out there:

We are your mothers, not your entertainers.

We love you with all of our might, and would sacrifice anything for you. You brighten our day and add color to our lives.

However, we don’t care if you are bored. Boredom is good for your growth and imagination. Boredom is a gift and an opportunity to grow.

If we don’t sit down to play with you, it doesn’t mean we do not enjoy spending quality time with you. It means that we are adults with responsibilities, and your responsibility is to play.

If you are bored, use that big beautiful mind of yours to think of something to do. You will be amazed what you are capable of.

Our love isn’t expressed in the form of crafts or fancy pinterest-inspired activities. Our love is not calculated by the minutes we entertain you.

We are here when you are hungry and tired. Keeping you safe, warm, and happy is priority. We will pick you up when you fall and cuddle you when you need love.

But my dear, for the love of all things precious, go outside and play.

When I Stopped Playing Toys with my Kids

When I stopped actively trying to entertain my kids, these 5 things happened:

  1. They started to build closer bonds with siblings and friends
  2. They actually started playing with their toys, which usually just sat around
  3. Their creativity started to blossom, as they had to figure out their own games and play scenarios
  4. Playtime lasted much longer, since it didn’t rely on me to guide it
  5. They didn’t love me any less or feel any less loved

Now, when my kid says they are bored, I hand them this (print it for yourself!):

Now is the time to stop seeing these moments as “negative mom moments” and start seeing them as positive opportunities for kids!

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Thursday 28th of July 2022

This article hit home for me. I can relate. One because I work in the school system and two Im a mom of two girls. Mom guilt is a real thing and I wholeheartedly agree that social media has impacted this even more, constantly viewing people’s curated post and making comparisons. It hit me the other day when someone mentioned at home days. I asked at home days???? Yeah we go out for a few days and spend money on activities creating memories and then have the odd at home day. I thought how bizarre because for myself and my girls most day are at home days. I have bills to pay so although we do go out from time to time spending money on those ever so popular activities, we mainly make our our entertainment and fun. Or as you mentioned they entertain themselves. I was 18 when I had my oldest and unable to participate in any great amount of outings and vacations. However, now my oldest is 24 and always brings up the sweetest memories and has an appreciation for those times, so I must have done something right. Now in a better place and time we do a bit more, but not to the extreme that it’s expected every day or Im relied on to supply it. How are children ever supposed to entertain, express, or grow themselves if it’s always us running the show.

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Friday 25th of February 2022

[…] many parents feel like failures when children are bored, studies link boredom to […]


Thursday 7th of October 2021

I love this!!! Such great advice!! I witnessed firsthand the beautiful bond that develops between siblings when they direct their own playtime activity, plays and scenarios 🥰


Thursday 15th of April 2021

I think it is a very important thought. My best friend recently talked to me about it and I think I have agree


Thursday 15th of April 2021

Agree, kids will easily build independence at an early age, this will also bring them empowerment and maturity. The generation now is different, we can give them much support however we need to show them how to fly

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