Boredom Fuels Creativity and Imagination in Children

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Do you believe in the power of boredom? Do you think that boredom fuels creativity?

Earlier this week, I had a scheduling snafu. I am co-host of The Homeschool Sisters Podcast. Typically, we record on weekends (read: when my husband is home to distract the kiddos), but this week we just couldn’t.

And so we ended up recording on a weekday morning. With three kids eight and under, this required a bit of strategizing.

First, I suggested the usual:

  • Play in the backyard
  • Build a fort 
  • Read some books
  • Play a game
  • Make some art
  • Build with LEGO
  • Work on a puzzle

As children tend to do, my three responded “That’s BORING!” to each and every suggestion.

Boredom Fuels Creativity in Children

Here is what I know to be true about boredom:

  • Boredom causes in an increase in child whining and sibling unrest
  • This initial phase of boredom can be uncomfortable for all involved

Whining is hard to listen to, and sibling squabbles can drive you bonkers. But if you are patient, or if you have noise-canceling headphones (don’t I wish!!), the whining will peak and then begin to dissipate.

And that’s when the magic happens.

My children never fail to find something creative once they give up on the “I’m boooooooored” song and dance.

So this is what I told them last week…

My children were bored, they had refused all of my suggestions, and I needed a [mostly] uninterrupted 60-minutes.

What’s a mama to do?

I simply replied, “Well, I am sure you will find something amazing to do and I can’t wait to see it!”

And, do you know what? They did.

Kara and I were able to record a fun episode about dealing with homeschool doubters at Thanksgiving with minimal interruptions and my children, for the most part, got along and engaged in creative and imaginative pursuits.

Here’s what they did…

My 8-year-old built a water clock for his little sister’s birthday:

My now 7-year-old got lost in imaginative play with our favorite toy, Build & Imagine:

boredom fuels creativity and imagination, science, stem, STEAM, daughter, education, homeschool, scientists, education, resources, science ideas
Image source: Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley

My 5-year-old found a bag of coffee filters in the craft closet and made a pyramid:

boredom fuels creativity and imagination
Image source: Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley

Boredom fuels creativity and imagination in kids

Parents often feel guilty about letting their children sit idle. If we are home with our children, we feel we should make sure they are engaged and learning and having fun… but boredom serves an important purpose.

Free, unstructured time is essential for everyone, but most especially for our children. I believe that this “I’m bored” time is both educational and necessary, not only for a child’s sense of well-being but also for his or her healthy development and happiness. By allowing our children the space to be bored, we are giving them an opportunity to explore and discover their own unique likes and dislikes.

Plus, they often come up with something really cool!

Now, it’s your turn. Tell me: Do you believe in boredom? What boredom-fueled things have your kids created lately? Share here!

Boredom fuels creativity and imagination in children
Image source: Pixabay

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Cait is a school psychologist, mom to three amazing children, and an unexpected homeschooler. She loves nature, good books, board games, strong coffee, and dancing in her kitchen. You can read about all of these things and more at My Little Poppies. Cait co-hosts The Homeschool Sisters Podcast. She is a contributing writer for Simple Homeschool and her work has also appeared on The Huffington Post, The Mighty, and Scary Mommy. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and G+.