How last week I had to force my kids into their happiness

by | Jul 13, 2019 | Education, Family life | 0 comments

I know how to make my children happy.

Chocolate for our girl, permission to play “Rollercoaster Tycoon” on the computer for our oldest, a trip to the Dinosaur Museum for our third one… I could include a whole list of my children’s wishes here.

And frankly, I love the bright eyes of my children when one of their wishes has come true.

Reality is, we live in an affluent society, where such desires can be satisfied without much effort. For most of us, it doesn’t matter whether the child eats one or two ice-creams a day, whether the desired trousers cost a few francs more or less – or whether the child has a birthday or not in order to buy him the toy he or she is longing for.

As a child I dreamed of owning even half as much Playmobil as my children do…

All the more interesting were the past days for me.

My sister and I took our children on a trip of several days to the mountains. We were able to stay for a few days in an alp hut of friends – where cows are housed in the stable in spring and autumn.

After we had driven a few kilometers up the serpentine mountain road – glad that our car has such a strong engine – we were overwhelmed by the beauty of this place when we arrived.

The alp hut was very simply equipped, the outhouse outside the hut and the wood stove were the only luxuries we found there.

I love such places.  They create in me a feeling of happiness and amazement over the beauty of creation.

For the children, the first hour was fine. They discovered the hayloft where we would sleep, explored the surrounding area and tried out the outhouse.

But then, oh did boredom arise, especially among the older children.

“Mommy, I don’t know what to play anymore!”

“Mommy, I’m bored!”

“Mommy, can we watch Pink Panther on your smartphone?”

“Mommy, the outhouse stinks! Why couldn’t we take our own toilet with us?”

These were all statements from our children, which my sister and I answered with more or less humor and understanding, denying their wishes respectively.

So the children played Uno, drew and played in the hayloft – but always with this feeling of:

“Actually I am bored, but I have no choice”.

The next day we visited another alp and saw farmers making cheese on the fire. We could spend the afternoon at a beautiful barbecue place. When evening finally came, we brought completely different children back to the alp hut.

Not a single word of boredom any more.

Playing tag , hide and seek , “little train”, creating a landscape with small branches, moss and stones for the few rubber animals we had brought with us .. suddenly the possibilities seemed limitless and the fun factor was huge. The children played peacefully, romped around and delightfully ate the food which was freshly prepared on the fire.

In everyday life, this feeling of boredom almost disappears. Life is strongly structured and even if we make sure that the days are not too busy, there are hardly any moments when boredom can arise. Even though I am aware that boredom is not a threat to our children but – on the contrary – a source of creativity and peace – there is rarely such a perfect environment as we have experienced during these days in the mountains.

For a moment, everything was interesting and usable for new inventions: A flat, rectangular stone suddenly turned into a smartphone, the leaves of a burdock into a bed for the stuffed animal. A bridge was built for the mountain stream, the hay was formed into a cave and the grate at the bottom of the stable was turned into a playground where you could wonderfully play catch.

I have become aware of how well children can benefit from a reduced activity plan. The resulting boredom has drawn a creativity out of our children that I had not seen in them for a long time.

A fascinating experience! In the future I will pay more attention to creating such conditions for my children.


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