Are you a weekend parent who doesn’t get much time with his child? A working parent who can spare only a couple of hours in the evenings? No matter what the situation most parents regret that they are unable to spend more time with their children. But, as it is often said, it’s not the amount but the quality of the time spent that matters most.
Get the most out of the time you do spend with your kids by making a list of things that would be fun to do – sometime. Purchase items that will be needed when you do have time so that you’ll be prepared in advance. Then when you see that you have spare time quickly scan the list to see what activities you can squeeze in for the day.
Really young children will enjoy most any activity as long as it’s fun. Something as simple as going for a walk or hearing a book read is all it takes to thrill pre-school kids. Real excitement for them, though, is when you let them make noise, play with messy things or tear things apart – on purpose. Cover a table with newspaper and allow kids to rip colored paper, dip it in non-toxic paste and attach it to poster board. They can then color or draw on the design with water paints.
Don’t want the mess? Put in your ear plugs and let them get out the pots and pans along with some spoons. They can bang, ting and clink for awhile with you as the bandleader. Make a drum out of a tin can with beans or rice inside. Make a flute from a paper towel roll. For a guitar string rubber bands across an open shoe, using a paper towel roll for the guitar handle.
Kids love to color so break out the books and crayons or markers. Blow bubbles with your child, play with play-dough or collect pine cones. Put on music and dance, play in the sprinkler or play hide-n-seek. Draw on the sidewalk with chalk or get out the Etch-a-Sketch.
Make a roadway from bathroom tissue then play like you’re pushing cars or just walk along the road and try not to mess it up. After cleaning up the tissue get out a couple of squirt guns for a real thrill. Or, plug in two phones and let the child call some friends and relatives so you can both talk.
Go for a picnic away from home or in your own backyard. Plant flowers or garden vegetables. Get really sweaty and grimy then squirt each other with the garden hose. Make a bean bag toss game or invent a new, easy board game.
Go online and play games with your child. Play dress up with silly clothes. Stack canned goods and knock them down. Give your child a piggy back ride. Play hide and seek, marbles or jacks. Make a cardboard playhouse or lemonade stand.
Older kid aren’t as easy to please when it comes to spending time with Mom or Dad. Some might enjoy kite flying or taking a walk in the woods. Others would enjoy going swimming in a nearby lake or going for a jog. As kids grow they often develop hobbies such as collecting trading cards or maybe butterflies. Whatever your child’s hobby it will likely make him happy if you spend time looking through collections or helping him sort out cards. Or, take him to a hobby shop that has things concerning his particular hobby.
Board games are usually fun for older kids if you don’t take an “I’m going to beat you down” approach to the game. Have fun. You don’t have to let the child win but don’t play as though you have something to prove. Pop in a favorite CD of your child’s and even if you don’t like that type of music, groove with your kid. Play air guitar or drums and dance a little. It’s okay if they laugh at you – it’s all in fun. Get out a tape recorder and record yourselves singing along with the music.
Play horseshoes, badminton or croquet with your kids. Work on a jigsaw puzzle or watch a movie. Keep in mind that it stops being fun for the child if you want to do something but they don’t, and you make them anyway. If you see the child is losing interest in one activity switch to another. Better to bend a little than to force the child to continue.
Go fishing, rock climbing, bird watching or just go to a video game store. Visit a local park, hike down a walking trail or go leaf hunting. Or, just sit out in the back yard with your child and enjoy conversation – on topics he would find interesting.
Think back to the types of things you used to like to do as a child. Although kids now have electronics and internet to keep them busy you’d be surprised at how many kids would still enjoy a simple bike ride or sidewalk skating. Things haven’t changed that much since you were a kid – kids still love to have fun. And if they have fun with you they’ll hopefully remember these good times when you’re unable to be there with him.