Teach your Children What it Means to have FUN
Idea List | How can you contribute? | Oops (Disclaimers)

What it Means to have FUN

What is this site about?

I once saw a television commercial where two parents notice their children lying about the living room on a Saturday morning watching Rocky and Bullwinkle on the TV set with glazed eyes. The commercial suggests you cure their boredom by purchasing a $45,000 gas-guzzling sport-utility vehicle so you can drive out into 'nature' and see a real moose, our appologies to Bullwinkle.

Have you caught yourself once too often using the TV as a babysitter for your kids while you stare at bills or taxes or the newspaper with glazed eyes yourself?

Are you worried that your kids seem to show interest in all the wrong things? Or in nothing at all?

Well then, realize that kids always learn best by example, and if you don't provide the example, the things you don't like just might fill the void.

Active, busy children tend to be the happiest, have high self-esteem, and can generally keep out of trouble all by themselves. Its boredom and idle time that create most problems. A child with many interests is never bored, and rarely idle for long.

Why does this web site exist? Do I think I'm the Martha Stewart of parenting? Not hardly. I'm just a parent who has as much trouble as anyone figuring out how to keep active with all of my children, and think of new things to do. Hence this web site. The more ideas the merrier.

                                            - Steve -

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Types of activities:

Places to Go

Have you ever heard the phrase 'Cabin Fever' about being cooped-up in the house for long stretches of time? Well, most of us don't get snowed into our log cabins for the winter anymore, but we still get a little stirr-crazy when trapped indoors for long periods. Places to Go are suggestions on places you can take your kids - maybe for an afternoon or an evening - so you can all get out of the house for a while. These are intended as something other than the typical eating/shopping/cinema options that often come first to mind. There are public spaces out there to use -- find places you like to spend time in.

Hobbies

One of the best things you can do with your kids is something that becomes a hobby. Hobbies provide both you and your children with a regular creative or constructive activity, an ongoing subject for conversation between you, and an interest that may stick with them for life. Many traditional hobbies (collecting, craftmaking, arts, etc.) also require the regular purchase of some small supplies -- which make good opportunities to teach about cost and value. It's also a good chance to teach 'appreciation through anticipation'. How often have you heard a grandparent (or parent) say how much they valued something because they had to wait so long until they could afford it?

Games to Play Outdoors

While in the US the most common 'babysitter' is the television, in most countries it's a soccer ball. Outdoor Games can be a lot of fun, and are generally good aerobic exercise for both the kids and the parent. Remember to be competitive, and smile with pride when you lose. And remember to lose fairly often. A sport that provides no positive feedback is not much fun. The most fun I ever saw kids having when I coached soccer was the day the opposing team was a no-show and the kids played the parents, who did an excellent job of balancing competitive play with 3-stooges-like comic play-acting (at least I think it was acting).

Regular Things To Do

These are activities that easily become habits -- part of your lifestyle. Make them as interactive as you can, and they become things that you and your kids look forward to weekly, monthly, or whenever. Children, especially small ones, like having Regular Things To Do, and these habits will easily stay with them for a long time. A simple example is making breakfast together on the weekends. There are few sights more endearing than a 2-year old wrestling a box of Bisquick out of the pantry.

Little Things To Do

This is probably my favorite category of activities. Things that generally cost almost nothing, need no planning, and don't need a special place. When your child is spending time with you, it's surprising how often its one of the little things they ask to do. A lot of things that might even verge on chores fall into this category if you play your cards right. Anything from washing the car to cutting holes for windows and doors in a cardboard box.

Creative Things

These are activities that may or may not make anything. They range from artistic things to ways of looking at things, to ways of saying things to things that build curiosity. My favorite example is sidewalk chalk. Make murals and creatures and suff on your driveway for passers-by to admire. The next rainfall or a garden hose will provide you with a clean slate for next time.

Things to Make

These creative activities that do result in stuff. Maybe it is stuff to post on the fridge for a week, maybe it is something you keep or use forever. When I was a child I wondered why my mother kept such a large collection of these things. Now as a parent I see how hard it is to cast aside. Whatever it is, suggestions are good, praise is better, and asking interrested questions is the best.

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How can you contribute?

If you have an activity that you think should be added - send it as e-mail to Steve Spanoudis. The site will be updated from time to time with new material.

At this point I don't want to begin adding external links -- that would perhaps create a monster of a site maintenance problem.

Remember the criteria - nominal cost and no special expertise. And an activity that has some redeeming value (not "eating beer and pretzels wahl watchin' da Bears or da Bulls on da tube").

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Oops (Disclaimers)

(Gee, can't forget this part)

Let me go ahead and state the obvious: YOU the OPIC (official parent in charge)* are the proper judge of what is appropriate physically, mentally, and developmentally for your child and yourself. There is an implicit understanding here that you can figure out that your 11-month old is not ready for ice skating, or that your 16 year-old won't be crazy about cutting-out cardboard boxes to make crawl-in houses. All risks and rewards are your responsibility.

*(ever since the time I worked at IBM I've never been able to shake my love of meaningless acronyms)