6 Secrets to Make Everything Fun For Kids

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Family Fun Day in Annapolis, MD. We followed the six secrets and everyone had a blast!

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.

 

 

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playground ladder

“Daddy, I Don’t Need Your Help Anymore”

playground ladderNot too long ago, we took the entire family on a long walk on a sunny Sunday.

The whole crew came along – The Best Mom, Beanie, Bug, Squish, and even our dog, Balki.

We wound our way through forest paths, talking about the sounds, smells, and sights of the woods the day after a rainstorm. We ventured close enough to a creek that the dog ran in to cool off a bit.

And then we arrived at our destination: the playground!

As public playgrounds go, this one is pretty awesome, with slides, a rock-climbing wall, and even a mountain that was clearly inspired by the Aggro Crag! (I want a glowing piece of that, by the way. Starting the holiday wish list early.)

One of the coolest features of this particular playground is a long slide, which starts about 12 feet off the ground.

The only way to get there? Climb a ladder to a platform, and then go a bit higher.

For an adult? Easy.

For four-year-old Beanie? It may have been Mt. Everest.

But, dangit, she wanted to go down that slide, and nothing, not even fear, was going to stop her.

So, I climbed up the ladder first, to show her it was safe. And then came back down and helped guide her up the ladder.

“I made it up top, Mommy!” she yelled to The Best Mom, before screaming in delight down the slide.

This continued for the next 10 minutes. I would go first and help her up the ladder. Each time up, she gained confidence in her ability to make it up the ladder.

“#DadWin,” I smiled to myself. But it was getting a bit repetitive. When would she be able to do this herself? I think we brought some animal crackers. Yum…animal crackers…

And then Beanie dropped the bomb on her next run up the ladder.

“Daddy, I don’t need your help anymore. I can do it by myself.”

At once there was a sense of immense pride in my little girl. She was conquering her fears and having the time of her life.

“MOMMY! LOOK AT ME! I CLIMBED UP THE LADDER ALL BY MYSELF!” She had never been more proud of herself.

But, man, each fear she overcomes, each adventure she completes, is one less thing she needs me for. Little Beanie is growing up, a little bit, every day.

Nobody tells you that letting go of being needed is one of the hardest parts of parenting. Especially when all you think you want is to be needed less.