“I’m bored!” “There’s nothing to do!” It’s the two phrases every parent dreads hearing from their children. If I left it up to my kidlets to choose what to do, they’d pick watching cartoons and playing video games (at least my son) all day, every day. As much as I love the boob tube, I don’t want them to turn into couch potatoes so I’m always trying to come up with fun activities that we can do together.
A lot of times that means doing crafts, playing games or working on some other type of project. Doing activities are a great way for us to spend time together, talk about life and create fun and happy memories as a family….at least that’s what I’ve heard and ironically, seen on TV (hey, wasn’t I trying to get my kids away from that evil box in the first place?).
There is often a lot of prep, set up and clean up time with any craft and it seems that patience always is in short supply. It doesn’t take much for the apple cart to get knocked over, and you find yourself trying to cool off a volcanic meltdown from a 5-year-old. I’d be kidding you, and myself, if sometimes I didn’t want to throw in the towel, park them back in front of the TV and fill a glass up to the rim with Pinot Grigio. But, as a parent, I’m supposed to suppress that urge….right?
Take for instance our annual bird house ritual. Well, it’s only our second year (you can see last year’s houses here ), but it’s something The Hubs and I want to turn into a family tradition. It’s a fun way to kick off the spring, it marks another year gone by, it gets out children to see firsthand the wonders of nature, and best of all, it’s dirt cheap to do.
We were all enthusiastic when picking out each of our bird houses at Michael’s and everyone was excited to get painting…well, until we actually started painting. Who sat next to who had to be as judiciously negotiated as the seating at Hollywood red carpet event. Who got to use which brush was the biggest crisis since the one 50 years ago with the Cubans and missiles, and of course, everybody wanted to use the blue paint first.
In a matter of minutes there was more paint on both of the kidlets than there were on the birdhouses. The photos are totally deceptive; it looks like we’re one big happy, but at this point the meltdown was fully atomic. After taking these photos The Hubs looked up at me and said sarcastically, make sure you talk about how much “fun” we were all having! Oh well, at least the neighborhood birds have a colorful place to live!
The following weekend we tried again. It was Mother’s Day, and my kids aren’t really ready to dress up and go out to a fancy brunch, plus I’m not really into all the crowds, hassle and expense of the day anyway. I like to keep it simple and stay close to home. So we decided that as a family we’d spend it outdoors planting our garden.
The kidlets were each outfitted with gardening gloves and their own tools. But of course, even with our preemptive action, they quickly started arguing over who got to use the shovel vs. hand trowel, nearly ripped one of the tomato plants apart fighting to be “the one” to put it in the dirt and finally who would get to use the hose and water the plants. Isn’t gardening supposed to relax you? It was more tense than a mixed martial arts match!
Sometimes I feel like I sound like a broken record saying the same things to my kidlets every day:
“Put that _____ down now, it wasn’t made to be used as a weapon against your brother/sister.”
“Okay, new rule starting now…you are not allowed to touch, poke, look at or stick your tongue out at your brother/sister.”
“You’re not even playing/using that, why can’t you share with your brother/sister?”
“You need to be patient, you have to wait your turn.”
“Just ignore your brother/sister and when they see they’re not getting a reaction out of you, they’ll stop doing X.
“Okay, time out – you need to calm down and think about what just happened.”
Well, the garden got planted, and hopefully, fragrant herbs, yummy vegetables, and my battered patience, will now flourish and grow. Oh well, maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, because it doesn’t stop me from planning our next family activity. Who knows maybe this time we’ll do something less stressful and contentious…like creating our own pirate adventure searching for hidden treasure in the yard or something easier, like solving the Middle East crisis.
Now it’s your turn to share. What activities do you like to do as a family?
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