Today was a day of the kind I really enjoy: we had no plans. My kids were home from daycare and although I knew in advance because the daycare was closed today, I had made no plans. It was deliberate because I really like those kinds of days where we are home and just do what comes to our mind.
In general, many studies point out how important boredom and planless days are for kids. It sparks their creativity and helps them to find themselves. I often tell my kids, when they come to me and tell me that they are bored, that I’m not an entertainer. It might be harsh to say that but it’s something I feel very passioned about when it comes to my kids. I want them to be able to play by themselves. When they complain about being bored, I know to watch the clock and about five minutes later they will be deeply involved in a game.
To get back to my day today, it was exactly like that. The kids ended up playing all afternoon with a couple of buckets and some pieces of wood. They built a race track and had a great time outside.
I was also very creative and took the day to experiment with some new recipes. For example, I made dandelion syrup for a batch of kombucha which I didn’t know you could do.
While this is just a snippet of my day today, I want to spend this post here now on what it means to be bored. While boredom is important for kids, I want to focus on us adults as well. Because we too need time to think and space for creativity. But I’ve also seen how boredom can backfire.
Boring days as time to breathe
It’s probably obvious that boredom is also a time to breathe. Days without any plans, appointments, and chores can be magical in an otherwise hectic life. I try to make these days all about just going with the flow and without making any plans whatsoever. Sometimes, unplanned ideas and plans pop up but they are exactly what the day is for: spontaneity.
I like days without plans because they give me time to relax. It’s pretty usual that I sleep in on those days (yes, my kids let me sleep in), that meals are somewhat improvised, and that time flies by without anyone realising.
For some reason which I have to yet to figure out, we usually get a lot done around the house on those days, too. It’s not uncommon to end the day with a list of tasks completed, although we never planned to do them. It just comes up and feels right at the time.
I tend to also cherish boring days for their opportunity to just switch off. I hardly look at my phone all day, I at least flick through my latest books from the library on homesteading, and I talk through new ideas with my husband. Boring days are days where my creativity is sparked.
When boredom becomes difficult
The difficulty I find with boredom is that it can become a (bad) habit. I have had days in the past where I had very little plans for one reason or another and I stayed in bed all day. While one day like that can be soothing, I found myself going numb to my surroundings after two or three days. And that numbness is nothing I enjoy.
I have noticed that if I stay only at home for multiple boring days and then get back to ‘real life’, that I feel out of place. On the one hand, I feel like I’ve been away for too long and so much has changed. On the other hand, I feel like I don’t belong there. I feel like I can’t cope with normal life anymore.
I treasure boring days as long as they don’t become habitual. Boredom tends to mess with my creativity if I don’t get up and do something about my new ideas. And I think that’s key: you can only be creative if you are able to share it with people. To be honest, I think it means nothing to be creative without sharing it with the world. No one can contemplate life and its meaning on their own if it leads to inaction.
Boredom is important to stay focused
Although I see difficult tendencies in too much boredom, I still encourage you to schedule some days without plans. Take time to think about your current situation, your life progress, and maybe make some plans. Boring days are important to stay focused and to revisit what has been and what can come.
And on that note, just a final thought: boring days should never be spent on binge-watching, social media scrolling, or video games. They are way too precious for that.