5 Examples from a Very Experienced Parent
This is Part 2 of a three-part series on activities for parents and children. Be sure to read Part 1 posted earlier. Also, watch for Part 3 next week.

As I parented 16 kids over the years, like a snowball rolling down a mountain, I picked up lots of parenting knowledge, some great and some like the rocks in snowballs – useless and painful. However, I realized two major objectives most parents have are to ensure their children are both healthy and happy. And while some might believe that this can only be achieved by giving them everything they want, we know that’s just not true. Living with a child who gets everything they want isn’t fun. Just ask the parent of a teen who has raised their child with that philosophy. Their snowballs are full of rocks. So, what do we do to raise responsible kids who respect us and actually want to be around us when they are grown? We connect with them.

Here are five more fun things to do with your child, in no particular order:

Oh no! We have to do it again!

Create a fun video together. So many of us have spent hours working from home, doing videos, having meetings on Zoom, and interacting with machines rather than people. Why not share that experience with your child. This is not an activity for the child for whom everything has to be perfect. I did this once with one of the children living with me. I lost track of how many times it was redone. It started out as two happy, smiling people talking about what we love to do. Of course, it did not end that way. Upon reviewing the first take, her hair was sticking up. The second take had her collar wrong; third, the cat came through; fourth, her phone went off, etc.

You get my drift. By the final take, we were two people, clearly unhappy with each other, no longer smiling, reciting things we liked to do like robots in a horror movie. Next time I chose the child who didn’t care what she looked like and just did it for fun. Choose wisely if you decide to do this activity. Just saying…

Go for a walk around the neighborhood and look at other people’s cool stuff/ flowers/ landscaping etc. This helps children get a sense of the world around them. It will also make the neighbors suspicious of your family since you will appear to be casing their homes. Be sure to laugh a lot and point to special things, loudly proclaiming, “What beautiful flowers!” to throw off any seriously alarmed folks.

Have your children choose one of their favorite videos to watch together one evening a week as a special treat. Set up snacks close by them where they can grab something your family likes. My mom used to designate Friday nights for this. We would have Pepsi, oranges, candy and pretzels while we watched Friday night television. Naturally, sugary treats need to be replaced with something that won’t rot their teeth, but there are lots of healthy choices your kids will like. (I just had a flashback of a “running away bag” hidden in my bedroom closet with oranges and pretzels. However, I never got to use it because the oranges rotted and got green fuzz all over the pretzels. This must have been the precursor to a modern-day bug out bag.)

Invite your children to help you plan a party. They can pick the theme and suggest games, decorations etc. If they choose something that is not age appropriate have them come up with an alternative as well so everyone still feels included in the planning process. Have you ever planned a child’s party? You know there has to be a special bond of love to ask your child to do this. Girls are especially helpful. The colors change daily. The theme changes every couple days. And the invitee list changes about once an hour. Yes, this is truly an activity that will keep your family engaged for weeks.

Listen to book on CD together while taking a car ride. Try not to punctuate the ride with encouragement like, “If I have to stop this car…” or “Stay on your own side and keep your hands to yourself!” By the end of the ride you may have been the only one who heard the great CD. Of course, it could go very well and everyone could be really engaged in the story. Afterward you could always discuss the story. Like that is ever going to happen.

Engaging children in activities with the family provides a hidden benefit.

Children who spend time engaging with their parents in activities or in simply having conversations reap a benefit that can’t be seen or felt. However, it is an amazing gift to give your children. It is the gift of memories. I have a few great memories of special things my mom did for us as we were growing up. It wasn’t easy for her to plan and pull things off because she was a single parent, holding down a job. But she did it. You can too.

Would you like another great idea for parents?

How about joining our parent support group, Inner Circle, which meets once a week. We can laugh and learn and sometimes cry as we share about this journey called parenting. Click Here for information.