Last week I tried to present some very practical things that we as Dads can do with our young children. Sometimes we don’t feel very creative or we feel a little self-conscious about playing with them down on their level. And that is OK. But, I wanted to offer up a few fun (and inexpensive) things that will allow you to intentionally make time and find time to spend in play with your elementary school aged kids.
This week I am moving up a little on the development scale and looking at some practical ideas for spending intentional time with our kids when they are elementary aged. Our kids have not yet begun to approach the dreaded teen years. And we are still heroes to our kids and well-liked by them for the most part.
So, what can we do with our kids at this stage of their lives. Consider the following:
- Have a movie marathon (this is great for rainy or snowy days): It is so easy to have access to tons of movies and entertainment today. There is Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and a whole host of others. Find a family friendly movie and sit down together and watch it. Make some popcorn and enjoy the time together.
- Try out new restaurants: Many nice restaurants have lunch menus with smaller and less expensive portions. Save up and splurge on a nice restaurant and practice being grown-up and eating at grown-up places. But, please, curb your expectations. This may be the first time for them and it is not reasonable to expect them to actually be little adults. This reminder is good for us to recall from time to time.
- Special Food Treat Day: Spend the day searching for new and interesting special treats. Or, seek out a new place that serves your favorite treat. Find the best snow cone stand, the best ice cream parlor, the best frozen yogurt or custard stand, or any other special treat.
- Do the things others would do if someone comes to visit: Make time to do the “touristy” things that you never have time to think about or do. Act like a tourist and spend a day doing and seeing the things you normally skip over. These are the very things that you wish you would have done after you move away from here and go to a new place far away.
- Make an obstacle course: Build an obstacle course in the yard with balls, bats, and other gear you probably have lying around for some fun and exercise. And run the course together! Don’t just build it for them. Do it with them. Remember last week I said that our kids need to see us playing and being silly from time to time.
- Introduce the kids to old school TV: Do you have a love of Fraggle Rock or the Muppets? Go back even farther in time and introduce them to The Andy Griffith Show, Lucy, Little House on the Prairie, Happy Days, The Walton’s, Saved By The Bell, or some other older TV shows. Daddy Time is a great time to show your kids your “classic” favorites. Netflix or Amazon Prime are a great source for old school TV fun.
- Board Game Day: How about a board game day as a way to have some and pass the time on a rainy or snowy day. Go find those games in the hall closet and spread them out on the dining room table. Be patient. These games may be new to them. And remember, kids have a strong sense of justice and fair play. Did you ever have a Monopoly Marathon when you were a kid? Go grab the play money from all the other games and make colossal loans so the game goes on and on.
- Go on a Photo Safari: Grab your digital cameras, smart phones, DSs, iPads, etc. and head out for a walk. Have everyone take pictures of the same thing to see what kinds of different results everyone gets. Print them on photo paper at home and put them up on the refrigerator or make a gallery on the wall.
- Bust out the hose: If it’s a nice hot day pull out the hose and wash the car. And you know that things will deteriorate into a full-fledged water battle before long!
- Do nothing day: Let everyone sleep in. Stay in your PJs all day. Do as little as possible all day long. This will be more fun for the older kids than the younger ones!
Don’t over think this. The point is to get out and have fun. Or stay in and have fun. Your kids won’t care whether it is out or in. All they will care about is that you spent the day with them. So, leave your phone on vibrate and let all but the most important calls go to voice mail. These days will pass by quickly.
Don’t make me break out Harry Chapin’s “Cats in the Cradle“.