"Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity." ~ Gilda Radner

Monday, September 04, 2006


Mondays off are meant for moodling.

And that is pretty much what I have done all day. Maybe you have moodled the day away as well. I hope you have. Everyone needs to moodle now and then...it's the best way to find emotional clarity amid the frenzy of this thing we call "life".

Maybe you have moodled, and you don't even know it.

Let me ask you: Have you, at some point during this long Labor Day weekend, dawdled? Or puttered? Or putzed? If your answer is yes, then by golly, you have moodled. If your answer is no, for shame. During every harried life some moodling should occur. For moodling, explains writer Brenda Ueland (who coined the word), induces revealing and rewarding reveries -- those a-ha moments that nourish our souls.

Kids need moodling time, too.

However, it seems to me that kids these days aren't allowed much moodling. Oh, they get plenty of extracurricular enrichment -- which is a good thing, certainly. But too much of it can lead to stress, according to an article I read in Sunday's USA Weekend. Did you read it?

It was titled, "The Benefits of Boredom" by Ann Pleshette Murphy, and it pointed out that according to a recent poll by KidsHealth, 41% of children feel stressed most or all of the time because they have too much to do. But Ms. Pleshette Murphy went on to say that research also shows that enforcing boredom (a first cousin to moodling, you might say), or opportunities to daydream, produces brainwaves associated with creativity.

That shouldn't be news to anyone who grew up in the 60s...Most time I whined to my mom, "I'm bored," she gave me a list of things I could do -- clean my room, wash dishes, etc. -- and it was amazing how suddenly creative and not-bored I could be .

Anyway...according to this article, "when kids have a chance to sit with their thoughts -- not while playing a video game, watching TV or doing homework-- their brains benefit in ways that enhance other kinds of learning. And being able to calm yourself and de-stress can have lifelong health benefits."

In other words, before we schedule another dance/guitar/piano/tumbling lesson on our kids' off days from volleyball/football/cross country practice, or that weekend "select" sport tournament, maybe we just ought to pencil in a new routine called NOTHING.

Yup. You heard me. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

I can hear the parental gasps, moans, and general gnashing of teeth as I type...but I think the idea might hold some value.

Call it moodling. Call it boredom. Call it just plain old-fashioned downtime.

Everybody needs it.

So, take it or leave it, Ms. Pleshette Murphy advises the following:
  • Make downtime a scheduled family activity.
  • Enhance, don't engineer. In other words, don't rush to fill the void when children say, "There's nothing to do". You could repeat my mother's other favorite "I'm bored" retort, "Spit in your shoe and send a letter to Kalamazoo." But like that other 60s humorous parental directive (my father's favorite) "Go play in traffic", I really don't recommend it.
  • Limit TV and computer use. Ouch. That's a tough one. But hey, if we made it through our childhoods having to generate our own fun without staring at a screen , our kids really can do the same. Unless, of course, a child's mother is addicted to blogging, which then requires yet another 60s' parental command, "Do as I say, not as I do."
Well, as another Labor Day weekend winds down and I sink slowly into a relaxing, hot bubble bath , surrounded by aromatherapy candles and calmed by Barry Manilow's Greatest Hits playing ever so softly in the background, I want to wish you and your kids many long, boring hours of inefficient idling.

Let the creative juices flow!

(NOTE: I posted this same article on my other blog...I was too busy moodling to be creative twice on one Labor Day...forgive me?)

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