As a child, I hated going to the hardware store with my parents (anyone else realize they were an actual adult when they were excited to go to Home Depot? Just me?). Trips there seemed endless as my parents looked up and down the aisles, finding the perfect solution to whatever problem prompted us to go there. These stores did not sell anything interesting, were full of too many things and we had to walk in circles to find anything. It was absolutely BORING.
Sometimes, too, my parents would take us to the relatives who lived a long way away…some of them were even AN HOUR away! All that time spent in the car, it was excruciating! Nothing but roads and strange towns and my brother in the backseat next to me being ANNOYING – gah! And I could not even read the books I brought with the whole time because of how carsick I would end up feeling. Those times were soooooo boring!
There would also come those days, usually by 2 or 3 days into a school break, where nothing seemed worth doing. I did not want to read/color/play outside/play with my brother/play with my toys…none of it seemed stimulating enough. All of those choices, but none of them was the right one. And my mom, whose activity suggestions were not up to snuff, would NOT stop what she was doing right then and there to ENTERTAIN me! How rude! Could she not tell how BORED I was?!?!?
It was ok, of course. I made it through those times of apparent under-stimulation just fine. Because I learned how to entertain myself. I came up with my own strategies to keep me entertained, strategies that did not rely on another person or their toys, of any sort (strategies I still use, because sometimes life is still boring). I would finally decide what to do to get me through the day, which was often more fun than anything anyone could have suggested, since it came from within myself. Because I took that free time and got creative about entertaining myself it was really fun. My parents allowed to think on my own, figure stuff out and make or do or be whatever I wanted. And it was wonderful.
Our own kids have times of boredom, of course, but at this point there are not too often. Usually they team up to play something made up on the spot (or embellish on a previous original play) and are off doing something for large chunks of the day. We will ask questions about their play, and know generally where they are in the house or the yard, but we do not force ideas on them. They are so happy on their own, making things up and figuring things out – we are constantly amazed at how creative they can be. They get so PROUD of what they come up with, and are so happy while they are doing it.
Let your kids be bored. Try not to constantly shove a device or an activity at them so they never have time to stop and hear themselves think. Let them be creative, and give them the freedom to figure out things without help. See what they come up with on their own, and they will usually come up with something they love doing. There may be some whining along they way, and it may be a battle to get them to clean up after themselves, but it is so worth it in the long run…speaking from experience.