Pamper your kids with choice
“Daddy, why did you bring me birthday cake that looks like a game of scrabble? You should have made it a cake that looked like Scotland Yard instead”. Now that was one of the more recent complaints I got to hear from my son who is spoiled for choice. Nevertheless, that pushes me to invent new ideas to surprise him and keep him entertained.
Something I have learned as a parent is always to be the person your kid will turn to for entertainment. Why? This enforces the point that you are his/her Best Friend Forever (BFF). If you are undoubtedly their BFF, even if there is a lie they will confess in a while, you become the super set of their entertainment world and that gives you a way of being the gate keeper to that world. They stop yearning for entertainment outside you, which can at times be disruptive.
All of that sounds amazing in theory, doesn’t it? “I have a day job, so there is no bandwidth at end of the day to entertain my child. I would rather let him stay glued to his/her TV program or run to my neighbors to play”.
Let me share a few ideas for activities I resort to based on my mood.
Physically drained activity
There are days when I am physically drained so I would prefer a sit-and-play activity.
Board games: No brainer here, right? My son has a habit of playing the same game back to back. For me, this is a blessing in disguise. I would have to just roll the dice and watch him make all the moves. I do sneak in some wrong moves when he does not notice to end the game sooner. Ludo 3 fives, 2 sixes becomes 4 fives and 3 sixes. Why not? If I want it to continue, either because he is not satisfied or I am still not energized. Delay the game. Scotland yard, Mr. X walks over detectives. Cluedo even if I have the guess correct, I do not disclose.
Building blocks, mechanix, lego works great when all he needed was a nod of appreciation for anything he builds. Once in a while he would need help in dismantling or fixing.
Emotionally drained activity
There are days when I am emotionally drained for various reasons. All I need is a good talk or a hug from him. But kids you know need some play time. I try playing arm wrestling with him. He tries to bend my arm with both his hands. Jumps all over me and I feel good to have that touch. May be a small pillow fight helps too.
Subtle learning activity
At times I have my antenna up to teach him something with the game. I prefer the lesson to be sneaked into the activity and not be obvious. Else my boy knows it coming! I taught him addition and subtraction by playing monopoly. I wanted him to work on his hand writing, so I linked his interest in books to this learning goal (he is an avid reader unlike his dad!). It was easy to motivate him to write his own book. I cut small sheets of paper from his 4 line handwriting notebook and made him write content. The otherwise scary handwriting activity became exciting. His handwriting did not improve much after this but we have wonderful book collections. Titles written so far are ‘my trip into the solar system with my dad’, ‘all about paper planes’ to name a few.
Bring the kid out in you activity
At times I just want to bring out the kid in me. Play time should at times be mutual right? We pick toys I like to play with. I have a big list of toys bought purely out of my liking masked as ‘you may like to play with it’. I keep my lego collection safe in my cupboard, I loved the battery operated train on a track set and some of the hot wheels wall track. I subtly push my agenda into these games. I like playing with the train set by arranging new tracks continuously when the train is on the move. Create loops car will fly through.
Bring the world down activity
This is our favorite activity and the least preferred by our house keeper. We just let ourselves go. Building a house with all the pillows and bed sheets at home, bring out all the groceries in the house to cook. One big hit is building a full miniature city with all his toy collections, 150+ toy vehicles in it. Placing a small twist in the activity makes it look and sound like a brand new activity. Like the miniature city with airport as the primary theme one day and a police/military themed city are equally exciting while both used the same set of toys.
These are just a few of a big list of activities I always have in my kitty. I always try to break any pattern he may find. The moment he finds a pattern, the interest fades away. I always love seeing that eager face wanting to know what is in store for the day.
Happy bonding with your kids!