Bring Out Your Inner Child This Spring
Fun activities for you and your kids
As parents, we often find ourselves too busy in the day-to-day role of “being parents” to seek out the joys of parenting, and we miss out on some of the best moments that connect us to our children - the reason for our being. We’re concerned with what’s next on our list: the spring cleaning, the bills, the next list of things to do; and probably more often than we’d like to admit, our kids get pushed to the bottom of that list. Do we even laugh, play or spend enough quality fun time with our children? Do we even have enough fun in our own lives?
Dr. John Duffy, a prominent psychologist and parenting expert, mentions in his book, The Available Parent: Lessons From An Insider On Parenting Teens, that children laugh an average of 185 times a day to a parents’ 15 times a day.* “Laughter contributes greatly to the richness of your relationship with your child,” says Duffy in his book. “I think it is important, perhaps critical, that we enjoy our children; that we play with them and celebrate with them. If we lack this connection, I think we also lack the ‘juice’ to have influence in their lives as well, to provide guidance, structure and discipline. This would be a significant loss all around.”
With spring budding right before our very eyes, our children are blooming and antsy for outdoors, we’ve got some fun ideas that’ll spark that inner child of yours and get you and your children reconnected and laughing together!
Get Creative with Chalk. Who can resist sidewalk chalk? As a child, I don’t remember having it, so every time my kids break out those big bulky colorful chunks of chalk, I just have to draw with them. We love creating underwater fish themes and have even spent hours trying to fill our whole driveway into colorful murals. We also create whole towns made from chalk on our driveway – the basketball hoop becomes the gymnasium, there’s a swimming pool where we’ll ‘jump’ in for a swim, a bike shop to drop off the bikes when they need to be fixed, and even a snack shop complete with snacks when we are ready for a snack break. See how much creativity and fun a small piece of chalk can inspire?
The Beauty of Bubbles. Rebecca Regnier, of doesthisblogmakeuslookfat.com, has a great spin on your basic bottle of bubbles. She says that there’s nothing like a good fresh bottle of bubbles on a spring day. “But with two boys, we had to add the element of combat,” says Regnier. “I’d blow the bubbles and they’d get out their light sabers and swords and slay those bubbles!”
Duck, Duck, DUMP. Here’s a different take on a game we all remember from when we were young – Duck, Duck, Goose. Now before you roll your eyes at this childish game, hold on! You do need to wait for a really warm day, and you’ll need some extra supplies for the alternative to this game – bathing suits and water, because this is actually Duck, Duck, DUMP! A few years ago on a warm day, we started playing this version with a bucket of water, and instead of saying “Goose” to the person chosen for the chase, we ended up dumping a bucket of water on his or her head instead. It turned out to be one of the most fun, most memorable days we all shared, and we still play this version of this childhood game when the weather is right!
Painting with Water. Jenna McCarthy, author of The Parent Trip, and mom to two girls, Sophie, almost 6, and Sasha, 4, says their favorite springtime activity is water painting. “We keep a flower pot filled with a zillion different paint brushes (all different sizes) on the back deck, and on sunny days, you literally just add water!” They then trace each others’ bodies, write their names on the deck, draw pictures with the water. “The hotter and warmer the sun, the faster our masterpieces disappear,” says McCarthy. “The girls love it – seeing if they can finish their name before the first letter starts evaporating. It’s fun, easy and mess-free, too!”
Get Your Thumbs Green. Betty editor April Daniels Hussar mentioned that she and her daughter had a lot of fun planting flowers in the spring. That reminded me that even though my thumb is nowhere near the color green, when my youngest was in preschool, he wanted to try to grow a popcorn tree so we went outside and planted popcorn seeds. I knew nothing would grow, but we spent some time outside finding the perfect place to dig up some dirt, toss in the seeds, cover them up, water them and wait, wait, wait for a popcorn tree to bloom. It never did, but we had a great time planting that imaginary tree! And to this day, we still talk about that popcorn tree we tried to grow!
When it comes down to it, playing with your kids is all in the creation of memories and the time spent together, and the laughter the activities conjure which makes it fun!
Other quick and fun things to do with your kids:
- Plant sprayers filled with water for an alternative to water gun fights or water balloons
- You’re never too old to climb a tree
- Find a hill and roll down it
- Freeze-tag, Ghost in the Graveyard (still my favorite!) Hide-N-Go-Seek, Capture the Flag
- Jump Rope
- You know what they say – “It’s Just Like Riding a Bike!”
- It’s raining? As long as there’s no lightning, let ‘em play in the rain!
*How come our children are having 170 times more fun than us? Let’s get out there and start laughing with our kids!