They’re the words no parent wants to hear, but one mother has found a simple solution

It’s a phrase no parent, in fact no human, is immune from – “I’m bored”. I’m pretty sure I said it 10 million times in my childhood to my exasperated mother and I’m certain I’ll hear it 10 million times more when my daughter, Millie, can say more than bubble, bottle and Bibby (also known as Libby, the family dog).

Recently an older and wiser friend of mine told me how she combated the bored problem once and for all; it was a crafty mothering trick and I have to share it with you. Many years ago, she decided to go back to university while raising her family. One day while trying to complete an assignment, her eight-year-old, not happy with his gazillion toys, DVDs and own company said “I’m bored!” about 49 times in the space of 49 minutes. Unable to concentrate at the task at hand with the constant complaining she stopped what she was doing and told him she had a cure for his boredom.

She took him to the garage and got in the car with him, but didn’t go anywhere. She just sat there, staring straight ahead, garage door shut, going nowhere, doing nothing. They sat there until he asked where they were going. “Nowhere,” she said, “We are just going to sit here in the garage, in the car, together.” Then she sat some more saying nothing, staring straight ahead. He then said, “but Mum, this is boring!” At that comment she turned to him and said “That’s right, THIS is boredom, sitting here with nothing to play with and nothing to do. Now would you like to sit here in the car with me and continue doing nothing, or would you like to get out and play for an hour while I finish my assignment?” He chose the latter and never complained of being bored ever again.

Now that he is an adult, one of his favourite stories to tell is when his mother creatively (or crazily) cured his boredom. I know nearly every parent feels the same as my friend did all those years ago, infuriated by the statement in an age where kids should be anything but bored. They have more toys, more television programming, more community events, more parties, more parks and well just more stuff than the generation before and still they plead, “I’m bored”. Are they?

Brisbane parenting coach Sharon Grayson says often the statement means “I need your attention, I want to feel loved”. Great, now we all feel like Mother of the Year for feeling so exasperated by the sentiment. But it makes sense doesn’t it? While we are working long hours to provide for them, all they really want is for us to stop and listen and love them.

Luckily it is a problem easily fixed according to coach, Sharon. “Spending a short amount of time with your child could satisfy their need to have you near. Allocate a period of time first thing in the morning to play and they may spend the rest of the day happily playing on their own.” So while my friend thought showing her son true boredom in that car was the cure, maybe, just maybe, the real cure was the fact she stopped, spent a small amount of time with him, and that was all he needed to feel loved.