Does your typical weekend with your kids find you sprawled out across various couches, scrolling away on your cellphones while the Netflix binge-of-the-week plays in the background? If so, you might be together, but it’s hardly the best way to spend time with kids.
Children grow up in the blink of an eye. Once these precious moments slip past, you can never recapture them. Here are eight ideas for family time that will help you enjoy quality time with your children and build fond future memories.
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1. ESTABLISH REGULAR PLAYDATES
Your youngsters crave time with you and their same-age peers alike. Why not make the most of your short weekend time by scheduling regular playdates? It’s even better if you can find a group of mom-friends so that you can enjoy some adult socialization, too.
When they play with children their age, kids experience a wide range of feelings they don’t in other circumstances. As a result, they develop patience and emotional regulation, learning to use tools like humor to deal with frustration. You’ll delight in watching them grow their interpersonal skills while having fun with you and friends. You’re not losing quality family time — you’re adding others into the mix.
2. DO SOMETHING NEW
If you visit the same playground every weekend, why not mix things up the next time Saturday rolls around? Hit one in another part of town, where your child can meet new friends and explore different equipment.
Introducing your children to new things makes them more open-minded and resilient and it’s a great way to spend time together. It might even make dinnertime less of a battle. When you go to the grocery store, let your little one pick out a dish you’ve never made before — they’ll be more likely to eat it without fuss if they chose it.
If you only have your kids on rare weekends, use the novelty of being at your place to make healthy changes in a fun way. Your kids might know they only get that carrot cake at mom’s place — they don’t know about the extra hidden veggies you stow in the batter.
3. LEARNING IS FUN
Who said that educational activities had to be boring? Summer is the ideal time to explore your nearest science center for some hands-on fun while spending time with your kids. Your little ones will enjoy it so much that they won’t realize you’re reinforcing what they learned in school.
This tip also helps support the custodial parent. If they’ve homeschooled the little ones while working full time over the past year, they desperately need the break.
You can also cultivate non-scholastic interests, especially this time of year. Stores like Home Depot and Lego Store offer free activities that you can do with your little ones. If you have a budding Bob or Barb the Builder, why not take them to a birdhouse-building workshop?
4. GET CRAFTY
Another fun way to spend time with kids and make the most of the weekend is to do some arts and crafts. You don’t have to spend much money, as your local dollar store probably carries most of the supplies you need.
You can also use this activity to boost your eco-friendliness. The next time you clean out your child’s closet, save their old T-shirts. You and your little one can transform these into throw pillows or a new fashion line for their favorite dolls.
You can also make suncatchers with various materials like tissue paper. Your kitchen will glow with all the colors of the rainbow after you hang your crafts.
5. MAKE BEAUTIFUL MUSIC
Let’s face it — few parents relish listening to their child practice an instrument over and over. However, studies show that kids who play music do better academically, particularly in math, science and English.
If your child doesn’t play anything yet, why don’t you put together a makeshift household band? Your dollar store might have some simple instruments, and nearly every toddler is familiar with pot-and-pan drum sets. Or, if your child is a budding musician, there are some fantastic acoustic drum kits available online that are made specifically for kids.If you have a game console, you can play games like Rock Band.
If your child is truly wretched on the drums but loves to practice, let them indulge at your place. Spending time with your child is what’s important, and there’s no substitute for the smile you put on your child’s face. You’ll have peace and quiet again soon enough.
6. BECOME A GAMER
Musical games aren’t the only ones that you can get if you have a console. If your child loves video games, why not indulge their passion by playing an educational one with them? Some, like Minecraft, emphasize creativity and collaboration.
Of course, you can also use gaming to get in your physical activity. Get out your aggression with classics like Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out. If you are short on cash, your local library probably has some new games that you can rent for free.
7. LOOK IN A BOOK
Along with video games, your local library also has books galore. Help your child reach their summer reading goals by taking a trip to this wonderful resource this weekend.
Your local library also offers more than things you can rent for use at home. Many such facilities also offer programs for adults and children alike. If you both need to brush up on your computer literacy, for example, you can often find low-cost offerings.
8. EXPLORE THE OUTDOORS
Spending quality time with family outdoors has tons of benefits for your mental and physical health, and summer is the ideal season. Why not load up the car, head to your nearest nature center and take a hike this coming weekend?
Better yet, why not go camping if you haven’t yet chosen a family vacation? Please don’t worry if the idea of sleeping in a tent isn’t your cup of tea. Today’s glamping resorts let you rent a cabin, yurt or even an Airstream to keep you out of the elements while enjoying the great outdoors.
Your children grow up so quickly — don’t waste another weekend with them on the couch. Use these fun ideas to spend time with kids and make the most of your precious time with your little ones.
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