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Nope, That's Not Part of the Mom Job

It was the Friday of Spring Break. My 6-year-old daughter was bored. Which, quite frankly, did not surprise me.

Nor did I see it as a bad thing.

I don't view boredom as something to be avoided at all cost. It can be very positive. Drive a child to action. Discovery. Fun.

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I have told my daughter in the past when she complains about boredom, "Then do something about it. The person with the ability to solve that 'problem' is you."

But on this day, I was taken aback by her demand.

"Mommy, I'm bored. You need to entertain me."

"I most certainly do not," I said, incredulous.

"Yes you, do!" she nearly screamed, her hands on her hips. "It's your job!"

Oh. Boy.

"It is not my 'job' as your mother to entertain you. You are perfectly capable of entertaining yourself."

"But what I am supposed to DO?" she whined.

"You have a house full of toys. You have this incredible thing in your head called a 'brain.' You figure out what to do. Exercise your imagination."

Had it been a nicer day, I would have sent her outside to play, just as my mother did me.

She huffed off. And, in short order, was busy acting out an adventure with her various toys. Which she had to be torn away from when it was time for dinner.

When I came across this article recently, I found myself repeatedly screaming, "YES!" at my computer screen.

In fact, I told my daughter, "When I was your age, I never expected my mom to entertain me. I entertained myself."

But there will be plenty of times when I step back and let her figure things out for herself.

Let me be clear: I am very engaged with my child. I play games with her. Do crafts. Build forts. Have dance parties in the kitchen. Go on nature walks and hold her leaf collection. Draw on the driveway with sidewalk chalk. Set up the sprinkler in the yard and watch her run through it.

I have read to her until I have no voice left. I support and encourage her interests. Satiate her desire for connection and interaction. I volunteer in her classroom. I kiss boos boos and have never once turned down a request for a cuddle.

But I am not my daughter's playmate. And I don't need to be her sole source of entertainment at all times. In, fact, I would argue I shouldn't be.

When left to her own devices, she has the ability to come up with amazing things all on her own. And that competence will be essential to her success in life. The more opportunities she is given to nurture her creativity and problem-solving skills, the more she will learn what she is capable of, the greater her confidence and sense of accomplishment.

I will always be there for her when she truly needs me. And I trust in my instinct to recognize those situations.

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But there will be plenty of times when I step back and let her figure things out for herself. And I firmly believe she will be better for it.

Image by Elizabeth Flora Ross

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