The Benefits of Boredom…Why it’s great if your kid says “Mom, I’m Bored”

There I was, a 14 year old girl stuck in the throes of puberty, navigating S curves on a back mountain road en route to my aunt’s house.

IMG_4465 IMG_4466

That dreaded season, aka – tax season, had arrived.

April was again upon us and my parents were driving to my number loving accountant Aunt Judy’s house.

I never understood why I had to go along. Her having daughters much older than myself, there wasn’t much for me to do.

Back in those prehistoric times, before tablets and instant internet access, there were only 3 tv channels to choose from and none of them featured anything interesting to a teenager.

Looking back, I don’t even think she had a tv so there wasn’t much for me to do except “be bored”.

And in that boredom, I spent countless hours reading magazines.

February 2016 003 IMG_4375 February 2016 091 IMG_4745

 

But CosmoGirl and Seventeen, these were not.

No, instead I got the thrill of reading Mother Earth News and every academic journal you could imagine on healthy organic earthy type eating.

I had no idea what composting was and held no interest in the microorganisms found in collards.

{Kale had yet to become gourmet back then.}

Yet, when push comes to shove – and you have nothing better to do – you read whats in front of you.

IMG_4750 IMG_4452 IMG_4457

Looking back now, I am grateful my parents made me cross the mountain to go to my aunt’s house.

Blessed I am, that there was nothing to do but read food science periodicals.

Undoubtedly, reading gardening and food magazines helped shape me into being the food lover I am today.

I learned a ton of random cooking tips and helpful hints that even now, 20 plus years later, I incorporate into the foods I prepare on a daily basis.

Did you know that when sauteing onions, you should sprinkle salt on them when they first go into the pan to allow them to ‘sweat’ out some of their natural water – which helps speed up the browning or caramelizing of the onions.

Or this tip…when you add seasonings and salt for soups you should do this in a gradual process throughout the entire cooking time. This provides a depth of flavors that cannot be achieved if you only only add the salt and seasonings at the end. If you only add stuff at the end, it really just tastes salty.

Or…Dried herbs really need liquid and time for absorbing to impart their flavors, so use those in soups where there is plenty of liquid plus quite a bit of cooking time. Try to only use fresh herbs (which cost more) when you aren’t cooking with much liquid or plan to only add the herbs at the end, right before serving.

I learned moderation must be key because
In 1989 eggs were bad but by 1992 they were great.
In 1990 butter was all the rage but in 1991 it was banned.

Even as a teenager I thought it was a bit odd how often different ‘studies’ conflicted each other.
Moderation, not a diet, is the only way to maintain a healthy body.

I learned benefits of raised garden beds and composting methods long before they were hip and trendy.

There is no doubt, my love of food and the geeky studies of food science, is a result of being bored and forced to do something I didn’t want to do.

IMG_4578 IMG_4720 February 2016 019

Reading what was on hand broadened my horizons and shaped me vastly into who I am as an adult.

Cooking and baking are my two biggest hobbies, hands down.

Nothing gets my time like my kitchen and nothing delights me more than friends at my kitchen table eating a home cooked, from scratch meal.

So the point is.

Allow your kids to be bored.

Allow them to drive you crazy and get used to them saying their friends get a tablet, a smart phone, a new whatever. Accept that you will often hear them yell “life isn’t fair”.

You know what, they are right.

LIFE ISN’T FAIR.

But the earlier you figure that out, the better off you’ll be.

Being bored has great results and unexpected outcomes.

I’m quite sure my parents never worried over my boredom and they had no intentional plans for me to become a foodie.

You may feel as if you are depriving your child if they aren’t constantly doing something FUN. You may feel as if you are doing something wrong if every minute of your child’s day isn’t jam packed in this overscheduled crazy busy society we live in.

But there is a beauty found in curling up in a window box seat with curtains whipping in the breeze as you read something you’d never normally read. Your imagination soars, your curiosity is cultivated, and your mind is exposed to new ways of thought.

No video game
No tablet
No smartphone
can ever win when compared with the lifetime of learning which results from being bored.

IMG_4364 IMG_4530 February 2016 082

So be brave, you moms & dad’s of the 21st century.

“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” Dorothy Parker

Be empowered to take away the digital screen
even if it means they say they hate you.

Don’t feel guilty if you have to force them to go outside,
to play, to rediscover the natural world.

Be bold and hand them a book they’d never normally pick up by choice.

You just might be doing your kids’ future selves a favor.

jessica

 

Share this article!

Speak Your Mind

*