I have been so used to ‘planning weekends’ for kids that it never even occurred to me that there could be any other way of spending them (other than planned). I would research activities and drive around from one park to the next on a spree of providing constant stimuli, education and entertainment. Long weekdays of work and commute would be followed by enjoyable and yet tiring weekends. Then, one weekend, after an especially draining week at work there was something quite contrary..
We had a slow breakfast, stayed at home for a bit and then headed to the nearby park to walk around and watch the leaves fall.
The kids were slightly puzzled by the new routine and whilst the park walk was perfectly fine, the time at home wasn’t. A combination of sibling rivalry, running around and crying, it was far from a calm playing time on a Saturday morning. In short, it was time to realise that with all the toys in the world, they would rely on me to provide entertainment.
It was a friend who mentioned how he was growing up, which reminded me of my own childhood. Our parents went out of their way to nurture us in many different ways: we had classical music at the conservatory, the Moscow Circus with fanfares, the Zoo trips, feeding birds, ice-skating, swimming, theatre, musicals, music school, cross country skiing, watching my granddad recite poetry, ice cream trips and so on … But there would always be a lot of time that we had to ourselves, sitting in our room or the corridor carpet by the bookshelves. And that’s when we had to come up with our own entertainment. Thinking back, it was a brilliant time and even looking out at the lights of the neighbours’ flats was an amusing and curious Sunday afternoon occupation.
I guess my friend was right: ‘kids should learn to get bored’ and to use that as their own stimuli to create, construct and entertain. It is of course a balance, but still, a very important little parenting insight to realise.