A few months ago, another parent asked me a question:
“What are some fun dad/kid activities?”
My response may not have been satisfactory, but it was 100% true:
“Everything…if you package it correctly.”
I come by it naturally.
When I was young, we lived within walking distance of my preschool. Most days, my dad would drive me to and from school. But, on occasion, my mom would walk to pick me up and we’d have “an adventure(!!!)” trekking home down the road, watching the cars whiz by, and even passing through a gas station.
My mom made walking home from preschool into something special.
And that’s what we try to do with our kids, too.
EVERYTHING can be special to kids.
- Who wants to come to Costco with me? There are yummy treats for you to sample!
- Bed time is so much more fun when the kids choose how you carry them to their rooms. Giggles Guaranteed.
- Only doing an activity for a few minutes? Scarcity is special! “Make this the BEST [fill in the blank] ever!”
- Walks in the woods can be boring. Unless you talk about what you see, hear, and smell. And discuss how going on walks makes you healthy!
Running errands? Going to bed? Doing something fun…but not for long? Getting a family walk in?
These things don’t have to be boring. They can be AWESOME, bonding events…but only if the parents present them that way.
What’s the secret to doing it right? There are actually six of them:
- Talk about what you are going to do in advance to build anticipation.
- Make it seem like the most fun thing ever by being excited about it. Model excitement and the kids will follow your lead.
- Reinforce your excitement while you are on your way/packing.
- Again, led by example by sharing how much fun YOU are having.
- Afterwards, ask the kids to identify their favorite parts of the activity. This gets them thinking about what you did positively.
- Information is power – use what they told you when planning future activities.
One of the things I’ve learned over my first five years as a parent is that kids do have a default setting: to have fun everywhere they go. However, they take cues from others on how to act.
As parents, we have a major responsibility to make our kids’ lives filled with joy and learning and love. It just takes some minimal effort and EVERYTHING can be a fun activity for the entire family.