The thing about waiting…

The thing about waiting…

Two things.

First. Waiting is hard. Can we all agree that waiting is hard??

And the unfortunate second part…

Kids wait A LOT.

I talk about this quite a bit when I do parenting workshops in the community. Kids have to wait in line, wait for a drink, wait for food, wait for me to get done with this text, this email, this Facebook scroll. They have to wait until they are older, wait until Friday, wait until their brother wakes up. Wait. Wait. Wait.

If you pause to reflect, how well do we, adults, wait?

Wait for them to do their chores, their homework, their showers? Wait for a new job? A new house?

What I find, is that we, adults, don’t wait well. YET we expect kids to wait well.  Today, I want to share a few thoughts about waiting and perhaps some tips for making the waiting easier!

Encourage boredom

That’s right. I said it. Encourage them to be bored. Use boredom as a teaching moment for reflection, dreaming, thinking, exploring, etc. I have heard other experts talking about how our smartphones keep us from ever being bored. And I realized how true that is for our kids, too.

I remember growing up and knowing what real boredom felt like. We lived in a house in the country, with no neighbors to play with. We had one TV in the house with 6 channels, most of which did not have kid-friendly shows. Although I wouldn’t say I am a master at tackling boredom, I look back and realize that boredom taught me how to rely on my siblings as playmates. It also taught me to explore and ponder. I remember days when I would sit on the porch step and look at my surroundings and think about all types of things – what I wanted to be (an astronaut), where I wanted to live (on the moon), who I thought would live with me (my mother forever), what it would be like to fly.

An experiment on boredom

A couple of weeks ago, I implemented a new experiment with my kids. Please note: when I shared this new experiment with them, they grumbled…”not another experiment”! lol – if you are a praying person – please pray for my poor children 🙂   Anyway, this new experiment was to have “rest time” during the day. And here were the rest time rules:

  • No electronics of any kind.
  • Toys of any kind are not allowed.
  • No talking to anyone else.
  • Sleeping is NOT allowed. Sleeping is different from resting.
  • For a period of 10 minutes.

I implemented this because I was noticing that my kids need frequent, if not continuous, stimulation. If there isn’t a screen, a toy, or a person engaging them, they seem to lose their minds (I am praying my kids aren’t the only ones in the world like this!!).

The first day, it took several times of restarting the 10-minute timer, but after that initial day, they actually did okay following the rules of rest time. Two things came out of this week-long experiment (that will probably continue longer!): 1. They realized they were able to survive 10 minutes of “boredom” or “torture” as they called it. And 2. They had so much joy when that timer went off!  Each time, we all laughed at how excited they were for that oven timer to go off.

Model waiting well

Beyond boredom, I think our kids pick up on the torture, or lack of torture, of waiting based on how we handle it. I think it is important to talk explicitly about boredom with our kids, but also to share how we feel about waiting. Acknowledge that waiting is hard. Engage in a conversation about how it feels to wait and be bored. You might be shocked at what you learned from them! And it might even distract both of you from the waiting.


The next time you hear yourself instructing your child to “wait” – maybe these reminders will help make that waiting just a little bit easier!


photo cred: Lukas Hartmann