Nifty vs. Thrifty

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Fun activities that don't cost a dime!

It’s getting to be the end of the summer and we’re all running out of ideas (and money) for what to do with the kiddos…

There are many things you can do with your children that will build memories for a lifetime and don’t cost a thing and you don’t need to buy expensive toys. Remember, it’s all about presentation!! The majority of the time, if you enjoy it-they will too!! Also, take one for the team and remember that sometimes you have to get dirty or do boring things but spending quality time with your kiddo is what really matters! Here are a few of my ideas.

1. Go to your local library Whatever your child’s age, the library can be a great place if you make it fun. Enjoy story times, read books together, or play with the train sets or toys they have. Be sure to get down on your child’s level so they feel like you want to play WITH them (especially if they are shy around other children it helps to have you there!)
NOTE: Almost every library these days has computers with games. BEWARE- Make sure you put limits on computer time before going into the library or your child will only want to do that and nothing else!!!
Remember-some area libraries are better than others or offer different things-check out more than one library in your area to change things up!! Search on the internet for your area libraries!

2. Take a Walk – make walking fun! Depending on your child’s age you can turn finding things on your walk into a game! For example “Do you want to go on a nature walk? What do you think we will find?” or “Should we go visit the stream or the horsies? You pick!!” Giving options is always helpful and makes children feel included and not just bossed around-even though you are still the boss!;)

3. Treasure hunt – this is always fun for ALL ages. It takes some prep work but they LOVE it! Make a list of 10 places where you can hide little prizes (can wrap pretzels in aluminum foil or gold fish, a few candies, etc.) Give the child a list of 10 questions pertaining to the places where you hid the prizes. For example for a 9 year old you may say “I like to mix things up” for something hidden in a blender. For a 3 year old you might say “people lay on me and I often hear stories” for an item hidden in the bed. Obviously it should be much easier for the 3 year old. This game can take a while and be very fun!!

4. Go to a Park – Try a different park or bring different toys to the park. Maybe even meet someone new to mix things up a little. Many parks in the area offer very different things from sand boxes to a jungle gym that might just have a slightly different swing or monkey bars that they might love!! I used to bring different toys to a nearby park that had a sandbox and the 3 year old I was watching loved it!! I also would get in the sand and played with him which often helps when he would get bored. Check out parks using the internet-there might be one close by that you have never seen!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Being the "Good Enough" parent

It’s so easy to get over whelmed by the tasks at hand when you’re a parent. Weather it’s spending enough time with your child, keeping the house clean, paying the bills on time, keeping a job, providing healthy meals, helping with homework, or being a good wife (or significant other). The list goes on and on of the priorities we have as parents.
There are some days when the dishes pile up, the laundry goes undone, and the floor is a MESS. Ask yourself whats most important? Does that mean you’re a bad mother? Absolutely not! Step back and look at the big picture. Is your child happy? Are you happy? Is the house safe? Are all the bellies fed?

We put enormous amounts of pressure on ourselves, often to be let down by unrealistic expectations. We read about omega 3’s, tap water, vaccines, multivitamins, allergies and on and on. We compete with the Jones' and want to give our children the best toys, house or bike. It’s enough to worry us into the grave sometimes. Remember back to when you were a child. Most likely, you will not think back and wish that you’re parent had spent more time on housework or had healthier meals. You probably won’t wish that you had Atari before the other kids. For the most part, to meet a child’s needs is simple. Give them love, keep them safe and provide a nurturing environment. What does being a good parent mean to you? Chances are, you’re child will not go to their therapist as an adult and say, “I really wish my mom would have dusted more” or “My parents should have made sure I went to church every week instead of every other week” (and if they do than their in denial because you’re going to screw up a lot worse that that!!) Enjoy your children. Hug them. Kiss them. Smile at them. Being given the gift of life is one of the most special things that we often take for granted in every day life.

Unfortunately, it often takes the loss of a loved one for you to really enjoy what’s in front of you. But it doesn’t need to be that way if we slow down and look around us. Step back and appreciate the joy of parenthood. Look at the beautiful smile on your child’s face and remember that parenthood is a gift.

Sometimes, we have to put down our parenting books and say, “I am a good enough parent and that is ok!”