How often do you wish you had spent more quality time with your children?
Too often, I get so busy with my daily life that I end up giving my son my phone to play with or I bust out that recorded Paw Patrol marathon so I can finally get the house clean or take a shower. Before I know it, my allotted time with him is up and must go back with his Dad.
I not only feel guilty that he is constantly being torn back and forth from two households, but I feel even worse when I wasted the short time I had either doing chores or browsing the internet.
I have learned that it’s not about the AMOUNT of time spent with our kids that causes us to feel bad. It has everything to do with the QUALITY and GENUINENESS of that time spent. Kids know when you aren’t “all there.”
The preschool age, is the age of their first “forever” memories. There is no telling what moments your child will have for the rest of their lives…but, there are ways to increase the odds to get a fun memory to stick.
First things first…PUT YOUR PHONE DOWN. In order to completely engage yourself into an activity with your child, you MUST be 100% involved. Not just physically, but mentally.
Second…VIEW THEM AS A FRIEND, not just your child. They are just as much a person as you. They deserve the same amount of respect that an adult deserves. Ask yourself; would you want your child to talk to people the way you speak to them when they are an adult?
When you want to teach your child anything, you must explain your intent and why. Try not to think of it as “yielding” to them. While explaining things in an adult manner, go over it from beginning to end. They will see the whole picture and the lesson or memory will stick. They will show much more appreciation for the activity or boundary if they completely understand the reasons behind it, trust me.
Third…CAPTIVATE YOURSELF INTO THEIR WORLD, FROM THEIR EYES. To really make a lasting impression on your child during the following activities, you have to embody the mind of a child. Do not be afraid to be animated or silly, it’s actually WAY more fun if you are!
Now that you have the basics down to make a lasting exciting memory on your child, let’s get to the fun stuff!
Go on an outdoor run/tricycle journey
Get your sneakers out! This activity involves some physical labor on your part. If you aren’t much of a runner, that’s okay! You can briskly walk if you want. The goal is to get a workout in (for the both of you) while you enjoy the outdoors. Find a pretty evenly sloped sidewalk that’s at least a mile long and go on your journey! While your child is biking, you can either run or walk beside them.
As you approach unique things along the way, make sure you point them out. You can also ask your child different questions like…
Where do you think squirrels sleep? How many red cars do you see? Can you go as fast as a race car (show me)? Can you find the hole in the road that drains the rain water?
As you engage with your child, you’re not only enhancing their physical fitness but you are stimulating their awareness and making things around them seem so exciting. While the actions work together…they are more likely to generate a pretty awesome memory.
Go to the arcade
Get change for $20 and show your child a world of life-sized gaming. I recently took my son to an arcade that had a Batman racing game. As I sat in the driver’s seat, I put him on my lap. I pressed the gas and brake pedal as he steered (with my help) and pressed the triggers to shoot at the bad guy cars from his Bat-Mobile. It was brand new, had surround sound and the seats vibrated. It was AWESOME. We spent about 20 minutes on the game and spent $5 (He died quite a few times). There are so many awesome games at arcades. The best thing is that you get to play most of them together.
I once let my son play a zombie shooting game at the movie theater that didn’t even have any coins in it. I made him believe that the game was active and the zombies were coming and we had to hurry and shoot them all.
We played on that thing for at least 15 minutes. We each had a gun and I would yell out “OH NO!!! Hurry get him! Get him! He’s gonna get me!” My son was THRILLED to “shoot” zombies and had no clue the game kept going to the main start up screen. It doesn’t matter what the game is. YOU are the key to making the game fun. If you are having fun, they will have fun as well.
Go to the park
My neighborhood is AWESOME and has 15 playgrounds. There is one after every 5 houses or so. My son and I will go out and claim each one as a different pirate ship. We do pirate accents and everything. We will collect sticks from the surrounding areas and use them to patch “holes” in the ship. I have also played the evil squid trying to capsize his ship from underneath. With imaginary play, there are NO boundaries! I’m sure you have some awesome scenarios up your sleeve as well! Just be animated and excited and they will be too.
Bowling with my son was the most fun I have had with him yet. It was so impressive to watch him go from granny pushing the ball down the lane with bumpers, to holding the ball at his hip and launching it toward the pins with NO bumpers. I did not teach him how to bowl. He just picked up the “proper” way to do it by watching the other bowlers around him. I was so proud of him and we had such a blast! We created our own little fist bump explosion for when he knocked down some pins. The experience also taught him to be a good sport when he got gutter balls. He was always motivated to keep trying. He made it through two whole games with an average score of 65!
Now, when I say bake cookies, I don’t mean those pre-made store bought AMAZING Pillsbury sugar cookies. I’m talking FROM SCRATCH.
Remember I said that you must explain things to kids from beginning to end? Well, this is where it applies.
Sit your child down next to you and make a grocery list of things you need for your cookies. As you make the list, you will write the word and draw a picture of what the item looks like.
Once you get to the store, you have your child identify where is item is. Park the cart right next to the item and have them point it out. Hopefully your pictures are legible enough for them to pick out the shape of what they are looking for!! It would be more helpful to them if you colored the pictures with some colored pencils.
After the store (and most likely a nap) they are ready to bake with you! Have them help with every, single step. From pre-heating the oven, to placing the cookies on the sheet.
The point of this activity is not to have Pinterest perfection cookies, but to spend QUALITY time with your child and to have fun! It’s okay to get super messy and take your time! Just think of it as a bonus if your cookies end up edible!