Do Not Complain To Me About Being Bored (Or You'll Be Sorry)

by Meredith Ethington
Originally Published: 
Young boy and girl sitting on a sofa looking bored.
Yiorgos GR / Shutterstock

Summer is the time of relaxation, trips to the pool, and no schedules. When we’re in the middle of the rigorous end-of-the-school-year routine, it sounds like a little slice of heaven, doesn’t it? But a week into summer, and moms everywhere realize that wishing the school year away was a big mistake.

Three weeks in, and I’m researching summer camps that might still have open spots for three kids.

Summer is a chaotic mess of whining, fights about fake games our kids make up, and too much screen time. Not to mention the three most dreaded words we hear from our kids: “Mommy, I’m bored!” (repeat 85 times a day).

Excuse me for a minute while I laugh hysterically. You see, last I checked, kids, you have a room full of crap you can play with anytime, eleventy-million books you can read, a trampoline, a beautiful fenced backyard, and bikes, scooters, and fidget spinners galore. If you are bored, then you need a reality check.

Don’t come to me with your cries of boredom, or this mama is going to find something for you to do and you’ll regret ever muttering those three little words to me. And if you complain about being bored during a 10-minute ride in the car, let me tell you about the time in 1985 when I took a road trip with my family, and we didn’t even have a single screen to look at while we drove across the country.

Sweet children of mine, you wouldn’t know bored if it smacked you in the head.

This mom is not here to be your fun machine. My job is not to live and breathe for you and also figure out how to entertain you while cooking dinner and paying the bills. My job is already thankless enough. I don’t need to be responsible for your entertainment every second because we all know that you’ll probably whine and complain about that fun outing I’m taking you on today anyway.

I do pretty much everything for you, like washing your dirty underwear and taking you to the library and shuttling you to friends’ houses. But the thing is, sometimes this mom has to get crap done. See, while I love doing things with you, like taking you to the park, the zoo, or wherever else in sacrifice of having clean bathrooms, sometimes I have other priorities, like grocery shopping and washing the sheets (which also happens to be directly beneficial to you, by the way).

So if you say “I’m bored,” here’s how things are going to go down.

You will probably find yourself doing something to pass the time, say, cleaning baseboards or scrubbing toilets if you’re not careful. At minimum, the solution to your boredom will definitely include some form of child labor because this house is not a mini kid spa retreat where you lie around doing nothing, then tell me you’re bored when the tablet dies.

If you’re really bored, why don’t you pick up the shoes and towels that you’ve left all over the house, or grab that vacuum and try cleaning up your Hansel-and-Gretel-like trail of granola bars and Goldfish from the back door to the front?

If you’re really bored, you can write a letter to your grandparents who spoil you endlessly, or go through your countless toys and give them to kids who would never dream of saying “I’m bored” to the overworked, overtired, haggard-looking summer version of their mother.

If you’re just so bored, this mama will make sure you learn how to pull the underwear out of the crotch of your pants before you hastily throw them on the floor next to your hamper, and I’ll give you an in-depth demonstration of how to properly wipe down the sticky shelves in the refrigerator.

If you’re still bored, I’m happy to have you do all the things I never get to do, like dusting and organizing the spice cabinet and throwing away expired, moldy food in the back of the fridge because I’m too busy taking you to the library and swimming and children’s museums all week long to do it myself.

The truth is, I’m happy to provide some fun experiences, and we’ll do a lot of exciting things during summer break. But this has to work both ways. You have to understand, sweet, precious children of mine, that sometimes you’re going to sit at home all day while I get on top of the chores or do some yard work or just enjoy the AC — and you’ll be better for it.

And other days, this mama will help you set up a lemonade stand or build an epic fort.

You may not see it this way right now, but let me tell you: Being bored is a gift from me to you. You may see it as a curse, but believe me, I can find things for you to do. It’s a gift because, by being bored, you’ll learn to use your imagination, read books, and realize what a privileged life you must truly live if you have the luxury of boredom.

So do me a favor, and take “I’m bored” out of your vocabulary. Just remind yourself that being bored is the best gift I can give you. It means you’re getting away with not doing all the things I could (and should) have you do to earn your keep.

And for that, my dear children, you should thank me.

And if not, here’s a mop. Let me help you learn how to use it.

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