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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

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I’ve got a good idea children... let’s get bored

It was Monday when my eldest (he’s 10) said: “This summer holiday is going exactly as I wanted it to... slowly.”

This was after I’d taken him and his brother to spend a morning paddling in a canoe on Derwentwater, we’d explored an island and they had soaked me, the only one without a wet suit.

Then we had pitched the tent in the garden for an outdoor sleepover, put on our sideburns and pretended to be Bradley Wiggins as we pedalled down a few lanes and ended up at a playground.

And his comment was made after the missus had taken them both with their bikes to Whinlatter for a very wet and muddy and regular falling-off ride down the mountain bike trail and a mad run around the play area there.

Three days into the summer holidays and we’re already close to exhaustion.

Every year at this time the idea is floated to cut the length of time for the school summer holidays.

They are too long for the children and are too much trouble for parents.

It can be difficult for parents to cope during the long summer break. Holiday clubs are expensive, family tickets to an attraction can cost an arm and a leg and there’s only so often a granny or grandad can put up with the little darlings.

The wife and I have to carefully plan and co-ordinate our days off from work so we cover the hols and we try and plan events for indoors and outdoors if they’re not playing with their friends.

But being bored during the summer holidays is a key part of growing up.

I can remember loooong days spent reading, staring at a poster of Colin Bell and imagining playing in a Cup final, watching old TV shows like Belle and Sebastian (not the band) The Flashing Blade, Banana Splits and a brilliant but-spooky cartoon version of The Lone Ranger.

Or else I’d be regularly annoying my mum by endlessly kicking a ball against the garage wall or whacking a tennis ball against it (she’d also be annoyed when I’d disappear for a day with my mates and come home in the dark, too late for tea, so I couldn’t win).

One year me and my mates had a craze for pitch ‘n’ putt, another time we spent weeks damming and re-damming a river, another time we had a series of bike races which got a bit scary and created a lot of proudly worn scabs and a couple of chipped teeth.

As I got older, we all spent time round each other’s houses listening to records in bedrooms where curtains were never opened, complaining about “useless parents” and writing lyrics about how we would “smash the system”.

I think us parents can get too worked up about making sure there are enough things for our youngsters to do.

It’s good to let them get bored – occasionally.

That way they appreciate it a bit more when a trip is arranged or something is done as a family.

They can create and invent their own games, discover new interests and hobbies.

Being bored is an important part of their education, it would be a shame if they couldn’t enjoy it.

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