Tuesday, September 6, 2011

You can entertain your kids for Cheap!

(this article is a part of my weekly Practical Parenting series for The Daily Review Atlas)

I am so thankful for the little things in life. The little things from my little people. My children to be exact. This past Labor Day weekend brought with it a lot of down time and my family found itself looking for things to do to pass the time. 

Personally, I thought napping was a great idea but my kids could only be held off under the covers of their beds for a mere hour.

So there we were. Staring at each other wondering what on earth we could do outside of mindless television viewing.

And that's when we discovered the joy of the little things. We didn't spend a dime. We didn't even leave the house. Yet, we were able to entertain ourselves with our own creations and imaginations.

The number one way to conjure up some fun with your young child? Find that which was lost.

If you have a toy box, a basement or a closet, chances are you've stashed toys away that the kids left by the wayside. My advice is to dig them out, dust them off and have some fun (but you might want some extra batteries on hand).

We discovered long lost cassettes and real-aloud books to go with our Fisher Price recorder. We snuggled and listed to stories. When we got antsy we hopped off the couch and danced along with the music. When we were feeling silly, we took turns using the microphone to tell knock-knock jokes and laughed until our sides hurt.

All that silliness led right into a wrestling matching pitting boys against girls. I was outnumbered and subsequently lost but defeat became sweet with a fresh batch of homemade cookies.

Two stick of margarine and some pantry staples led to a very messy, yet thoroughly enjoyable, time of mixing and licking. Not to mention the wet fun that followed when I left the kids in charge of washing the dishes. They licked the bowls clean and then sprayed them down (and themselves, and my floor, and my counter tops and my windows).

Did you know long weekends are great for laundry as well? How about letting the kids lend a hand matching socks? When the excitement dulled down a little, we made it a race; who could match their socks and put them away the fastest. But not before we had sock wars. Yes, sock wars. No balls are ever allowed in my house but on laundry days we each collect the socks we matched and play a sorta cross between dodge ball and tag. Well, that is until somebody got their eye poked out!

So we resolved to a quieter activity and broke out the crayons and markers. We dug out old coloring books and scraps of paper. Even the older kids got in on the fun, creating masterpieces.  Our  masterpieces were proudly displayed on the refrigerator for all our guests to see. Guests? Yeah, after we baked, cleaned, read, created and played we invited some friends over to share in our favorite video game. With a huge bowl of popcorn and the T.V. back on we laughed and played some more.

When the long holiday weekend finally came to a close, the last dirty, sticky, little face bathed and bed, I sat down to put my feet up and smiled. What a great time we had. We snuggled. We laughed. We bonded and read stories. We were silly and serious. We did all those things that the schedule of life doesn't always seem to allow.

We may not of had a traditional Labor Day picnic but we had quality family time. The smiles from my children, the squeals of their laughter and the pounding of their little feet on the hardwood floors are the little things I hope to always to remember. 

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