October 23rd, 2012 - Category: Family Time
Is your television on from sun up to sundown? Is that the first thing that gets turned on in the morning and the last thing to be turned off at night? If it’s not the television maybe it’s the computer, or pod, or notebook? Too much screen time can stunt the imagination and yield a loss of wonder. Whenever the show is over or the game is done, your kids are back to being bored again. With the glimmer and jazz that electronics have to offer, it makes it hard for kids to focus on a book, or engage in imaginative play, or marvel at nature.
Encouraging our children to spend less time in front of a screen can elude even the best of parents. Here’s some ideas of things to do instead of sitting in front of a screen.
Chores: Chores teach responsibility, build self-esteem, and encourage spending time together. It is a great way to give them something to do that will benefit them and the family. At MyJobChart.com you can find many ways to teach and encourage your child to be more helpful with chores. If someone says, “I’m bored.” Have several chores for them to choose from to take up some time.
Books: Books don’t have to be a lost past time. Get a library card and spend the afternoon at the library. Encourage your children to always have a book they are reading.
Use Your Imagination: There is no limit when you use your imagination. Play school, dress-up, or super-hero. Have a tea-party in the back yard or pretend to fix the car. The possibilities are endless. The more extravagant the better!
Play With Friends: Invite a friend over for a couple of hours. When ideas can bounce off of two heads they are sure to find something fun to do.
Play Outside: Ride bikes, play at the park, work in the garden, run through the sprinklers. Take time to appreciate the weather and nature all around us.
Build Something: Whether it is Lego’s, play-dough, or a fort built out of sheets in the living room, building something sparks the imagination and can keep kids busy for hours.
Crafts: A couple of popsicle sticks and some glue can go a long way to fighting boredom and inspiring grand thoughts.
Hobbies: There are so many hobbies to choose from for girls and boys. To name a few there are model airplanes, scrap-booking, painting, sports, photography, the list is endless. Take up a hobby with your child and you can both learn and grow together.
Experiments: One of my favorite science experiments was mixing vinegar and baking soda and watching it foam. From watching mold grow on fruit to which soap works better, find everyday household products and experiment with them.
Collections: Start a collection of stamps, coins, baseball cards, or even leaves or rocks.
Board Games and Puzzles: There are quick ones and long ones. Games for young and old alike. Take your pick and spend some time getting to know each other over a good game or puzzle.
Whether you plan to limit screen time to just a few hours a day or you just need some ideas to encourage your little one away from the TV, we hope some of these ideas will help. Use your imagination and spend some quality time together.
July 5th, 2011 - Category: Family Time
Summer can be hot. And long. And for kids…a little bit boring. As a parent, you don’t understand boredom. There are always chores that need to be done, food to cook, and jobs to go to. You could fill up an entire year just with the stuff that needs to be done right now. Unfortunately, it’s your kids that have the summer off. Not you. But that doesn’t mean you want your kids sitting around for the next few weeks doing nothing.
Here are some great ideas for getting kids off the couch and even getting them to do extra chores (without realizing it):
Start washing your car – if you put on your bathing suit, your kids will naturally wonder what you’re doing. Tell them to “come see.” Then, while you start hosing down the car, toss them a rag. Most kids love the water, and even if it means washing the car, they won’t be able to resist the temptation. You get a clean car. Your child gets outside for a while. And hey, if a water fight breaks out, it’ll be a great time to bond with your children.
Make popsicles or homemade ice cream – got a bunch of dishes in the sink? Then get your kids in the kitchen to help you clean them up. Entice them by asking if they want to make popsicles or homemade ice cream. Once you’re in the kitchen, you could say, “We’ve got to get these dishes cleaned up so we have room to work.” And with that, your dishes are done and you and the kids have a sweet treat to enjoy.
Play “night games” with the kids – remember when you were young and played Kick the Can or Ghost in the Graveyard? It was a lot of fun for you and it would be great for the kids. Because you play at night, you won’t hear any whining about how hot it is. This is also a good activity to get your yard cleaned up. After all, you’ll tell your kids how dangerous a bike, hose, or skateboard could be in the dark. Soon, the toys in the yard will be back in place. And once you get the kids going, you can always return inside while they continue to have some fun. Just be sure you’ve invited a few friends over to join in.
Clean out the closets and save a few dollars – how many shirts and pants with holes do your kids own? Probably a few, right? After all, clothes do wear out. Suggest turning old, holey pants into shorts and give your kids markets and paints to create their own style. Of course, they’ll need to clean out their entire closet to find all the shirts and pants they’d like to “remake” into summer clothes. Then get them playing outside in their “new” outfits.
Pull out the family photos – if you’re like many families, you have photos on the computer, in a box, and hiding in drawers all over the house. All you have to do is show your kids one or two baby pictures of themselves and they’ll be anxious to look at more. Get them to organize your stash as they go through them. This is a great indoor activity that keeps them cool and away from the T.V. And when they’re done, you’ll be ready to fill the photo albums or get the pictures uploaded to digital albums.
Kids don’t like the word chores. But if they haven’t got anything better to do, they’ll eagerly embrace just about anything. So learn how to engage your kids in activities you want done without mentioning work or chores. You’ll be amazed at how quickly the summer passes and how active your kids can become.
April 26th, 2011 - Category: Family Time
As parents, it’s not uncommon for us to stay laser-focused on the things that just “have to get done.” We have our own to-do list and we try to squeeze our children into that same mold. As you know, this can cause some tension. Kids want to do things on their own time. And the urgency to get things done can make you seem like an ogre.
Here’s an idea: don’t focus so much on getting the chores done. They’ll get done; even if it takes an hour instead of 30 minutes. What is important is that you build relationships with your children as you help them develop skills and learn to possibly enjoy their chores.
Below is a list of 5 ideas for making chore time memorable:
Turn on the Radio – doing chores can be fun…if you want it to be. A little bit of music can act as a motivator. If you associate pleasurable things with less-than-fun activities, you can reshape how your children feel about what they are doing.
Interrupt Chores with Some Fun– for example, if you’ve asked your kids to wash the car, take advantage of that opportunity to bond. Sneak up as they work and turn the hose on them. They’ll remember moments like that forever. No, you can’t do it every time they wash the car. But when it’s completely unexpected, go for the moment.
Make it a Game– the chores have to be done. When children are little, we sing the clean-up song to motivate them. Older children don’t want to sing silly songs. But what if you were to set a timer and offer an extra incentive if they get their chores done before it goes off. Or, hide some cash that they’ll only find by doing an exceptional job with their chores (like moving the furniture when they vacuum).
Join Them– as your children grow, it’s easy to let them tackle their chores on their own. After all, you’ve got things to do. But once in a while, find some time to help your child complete their chores. They need to know you still recognize what they are doing.
Skip the Chores– when you see your child dragging their feet about doing chores, why not skip them? Take them to a movie or out to get ice cream. Skipping chores once in a while won’t hurt anything and your child will appreciate your willingness to make them happy more than getting things done.
Switch Things Up– if your child is old enough, offer to switch chores with them. Send them off to the grocery store while you tackle mowing the lawn. A little variety will go a long way in making chores less mundane.
Compliment Their Efforts –just letting your child know their efforts are appreciated can make a big difference. There’s a big difference between doing chores because you have to and doing chores because it makes your parents happy.
Some of our favorite moments are those we’ve spent working side-by-side with our children. It’s a good feeling to know that even “hard work” can be rewarding, memorable and enjoyable. Those are the real skills and feelings you’d like to leave your child with, right?
If you have other ideas for making the most of chore time with your kids, please feel free to leave a comment below. And if you are looking for a way to easily manage your child’s chores, be sure to check out our free online chore chart, MyJobChart.com.
December 21st, 2010 - Category: Family Time
Although there are many family activities inherently connected to the holidays, there will most likely come a time during the school recess that your child utters the dreaded words, “I’m bored!” Many of us think how could this be after they just acquired all that new ‘stuff’? Yet it seems to be an inevitable consequence of time off from school. Here are a few activities that your kids can do without leaving home to keep them creative and active inside on a winter day- other than turn on the TV or the computerized games.
Make your own play dough: This is a two part activity because not only is it fun to make, but then they have something to play with afterward. Combine 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of salt, 2 cups of water, 2 tbsp vegetable oil, 2 tsp cream of tartar, and a few drops of food coloring in a large pan over low heat. Stir until combined and allow to cool.
Create a family newspaper: Talk to your children about newspapers and magazines and show them examples. Ask older children to create their own family newspaper featuring stories, advertisements, cartoons, and more. Newspapers can be written, feature pictures, or both. You’ll be surprised at the day-to-day family events that your children will turn into newsworthy articles!
Employ your older children: If you have a group of children of mixed ages, let the older children plan and teach an activity to the younger ones. Give the older children a selection of art or craft materials and ask them to come up with a project to teach. You’ll be surprised how seriously the older children take the responsibility of designing a project of their own, and the little ones who already look up to the big kids will enjoy working on a project with them.
Create a treasure hunt: This is another activity that can be designed based around your child’s age. A little guy just needs a simple map with some pictures whereas an older school-age child could use codes and clues to figure out where the treasure is. The treasure doesn’t have to be anything major. You could get something at the dollar store, or if you feel like there are enough new items in your home the treasure could be something like being able to pick what to have for dinner that evening.
Have a talent show: Another two part activity is to hold a talent show. First your child needs to come up with a ‘talent’ and practice his/her routine. Then there is the actual performance. You could even make invitations for other family or friends, or prepare special seating or snacks. You could have every member of the family participate. Make sure you have the video camera batteries charged.
Challenge their taste buds: The purpose of this activity is to make your child more aware of the sense of taste. Gather a variety of foods in small amounts. Have your child close her eyes while tasting each one. After each food, discuss the taste. Begin to distinguish between the main taste bud differentiation: sweet, sour, bitter and salty. Ask your child to say which are his favorite foods and why. Try combining foods of different tastes. How did the taste change when the foods were combined?
Make a collage: Save old magazines and catalogs and store them in a cabinet just for this purpose. Have the kids cut out pictures and paste them onto a piece of cardboard or construction paper. You can let them cut out whatever they want, or assign each child a letter of the alphabet or a theme to go by for a more challenging project. Keep a trash can close by for the scraps and be sure to keep a stock of glue sticks on hand!
Play Sardines (Reverse Hide-n-Seek): One child is the hider, everyone else is a seeker. The hider hides while the seekers seek. However, when a seeker finds the hider, instead of pointing him out, he joins him in the hiding place. Soon, the children will all be stuffed in one place, like a box of sardines!
The key is to not whine back to their whining, to try to think outside the box and search for an activity that you know would be great for your children’s ages and creativity. Taking a few minutes to plan an activity might lead to lots of great treasured memories. Enjoy!
December 9th, 2010 - Category: Family Time
If holiday time is stressful for you as a parent, then it is possible that some of that stress is rubbing off on your children. Here are some ways to keep your children from burning out during the craziness of the season.
There are some stresses that effect parents more than children – one of the big ones being the stress of added expenses. The first thing we have to do is let go of perfection. Try to see the holiday from your children’s eyes. Most of the time they are not as concerned with the things we think they “have to have.” Perhaps during this time you can give your children a few additional chores to add to their job chart in order to help you prepare for extra guests or celebrations. Express to them that their extra help will make the holiday more special for all involved. All the extra work doesn’t have to be on your shoulders.
July 16th, 2010 - Category: Family Time
I think, for the most part, parents genuinely want to be able to have more time to spend with their kids. Work schedules, school, housework, and travel (essentially our day to day routines) all tend to creep their way further and further into our lives until eventually we can end up suffocating ourselves with “to dos” and appointments. We don’t want these things to take over our lives, but somehow it ends up sometimes that we let the small things in life outweigh what is most important.
If you’re wondering, the idea for this post came from the movie “Click It” with Adam Sandler. My wife and I just finished watching it and I couldn’t help but wonder if I might be letting my day to day routine and work rob some of the quality time in my life that I could be dedicating to those I love most, my family. There is a fine line that needs to be walked but no matter the circumstances, as Michael states in the end, “family is always first.”
This in mind, I’ve decided to share some ideas on ways to spend quality time with your kids. When we do take that vacation, put away the chores for a night with the family, or ditch the 5th “can’t miss” meeting to pick up the kids early from school, it’s nice to have some good ideas up our sleeves to make sure that the time we spend with our kids and family is meaningful, fun, and memory creating.
This is simply going to be a list of brainstormed ideas. I debated breaking them down into categories but decided that it would be easier if you could just pick and choose which ones would work best for your family and your own kid’s ages since each family is different.
This list could be endless and I hope everyone can share some of their own ideas on ways to spend quality time with your kids. What do you do on your days off with the family? What brings a smile to your son or daughters face? We’d love to hear from you.
June 11th, 2010 - Category: Family Time
I’ve written a lot about family time and how important it is to make quality time for your family. One of the most entertaining ways to spend quality family time is to find fun easy games that the whole family can enjoy. Growing up in a small town, I’ve had to learn a lot of games. I have played a wide variety of games throughout my life, as I’m sure most of you have, including board games, outdoor night games, card games, and any other type of game you can think of. We had to have SOMETHING to do in order to keep us busy on those long summer nights in a small town.
Playing games with your friends is no doubt fun. What we may not realize is that those same games can be played as a family in order to grow closer together and establish tighter bonds between family members. That in mind, I wanted to list a few easy family games. These are just some ideas, I’m sure everyone has their own favorites and I invite you to share those with us as well. I always love to learn a new game and try it out with the family. It’s fun when the game is new for everyone so all members feel like they are on equal playing fields and you can have fun learning together.
(Keep in mind that you may have different names for some of these same games in your own family)
These are just a few of the games I grew up with and still play today with my family. What are the games that you play? Maybe you have games you or a family member have come up with yourself that you’d like to share. Happy parenting and maybe your kids will want to use some of those points from completing their chore chart to buy some board games or family game time.
May 4th, 2010 - Category: Family Time
Quality family time seems hard to come by when we’re driving in the fast lane in a world with fast cars, fast food, and the hope for fast fortunes. Quality time seems to be easily replaced with time spent working, cleaning the house, washing the car, rushing the kids to school, paying bills, and cooking dinner. The fact is, life can be super stressful and it is really hard to break out of the funk if we don’t MAKE time for our families.
I’ve asked some of our fans on facebook and our twitter followers for some suggestions on how they spend quality time with their families. I’ve also listed some of my own ideas in hopes to spark your mind or at least remind you of all of the fun things you can do with your family and that will allow you to take a breather from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and just hang out with the fam.
This first idea comes from Julie in Arizona. She says, “We like to go to azcentral.com and see what’s happening that weekend in the kids and family section. They always have fun, free events and activities for young families to take advantage of: plays, puppet shows, museum tickets, kid fitness events. There is always something. You just have to want to find it!”
This idea is GREAT for families living in more urban areas that have a lot of events, but even in smaller communities you can check for upcoming events in the closest city to you and take the family on a day trip.
Since the last one was more for the city folk, here’s one to bring out the “outdoorsman” in everyone. Grab a couple fishing rods, some powerbait, hooks, and sinkers, and load the family up on the SUV bound for the nearest fishing hole or stream. Sometimes it’s great to find a place where you have to hike a little ways to get to the fishing hole. This gives you more time to walk and talk as a family.
This is a great idea from Amandia in Washington DC. Amandia’s family likes to gather around the piano and warm up their vocal cords for a fun singing session. Some of the kids will bring their favorite instrument and they’ll all have a sort of “jam” session together. “It is such fun to see all the kids using and developing their talents,” says Amandia.
There is some sort of power in supporting others. It not only helps them feel appreciated but it also helps you appreciate the accomplishments and talents of others more. As you take the other kids to watch a sibling play sports or participate in an activity or play, it really builds comradery and brings the family together.
Find something that the whole family likes to watch. A lot of times reality and similar type shows are a favorite (Survivor, American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, Biggest Loser…etc).
Find someone in the community that could use some help. Whether it be yard work, fixing up the house, or even just someone to come and keep them company, take the family and spend some time serving.
This seems a little overplayed but it can still be a good time. Especially if your family is not one to go out much, it can be a treat to take the whole family to the theater and watch a wholesome movie together. Talk about the movie afterwords, what each family member’s favorite part was, worst part, who was the best actor… etc.
Board games and card games are a fan favorite for many families. Sometime it’s cool to break away from the norm though and try something different. Sherry from Wichita shares a cool story about one of her families successes with a new angle on game night. Sherry says, “One time we had a game night of clue and each person had to dress up as their character. We had a mystery dinner to go with it, too.” Awesome idea Sherry! Super innovative!
Make a spin wheel with the names of each family member. Spin the wheel and whoever the pin lands on that’s who gets to pick where you go for dinner that night AND what you eat (buckle your seat belt as you may be in for some exotic dishes). The next time you do it be sure to take the last person who won off the wheel to make sure everyone gets a chance.
Find a good book that the family can enjoy. Pick a time each morning or evening when the family can get together for 15 minutes or so and site down to read together. You can talk about what you’ve ready during and after reading to get discussion from everyone.
Chrysula from New York says, “One of our favorite family quality times is just going for a walk on Sunday afternoon. The kids get their bikes, which is a novelty after 9 years in Manhattan, and we stroll around the neighborhood.”
These are 11 great ideas for spending quality family time. I know there are a million more out there so I hope you’ll share some of yours with us. Feel free to comment below and let others know what your family does for fun. Don’t forget to sign up for the blog if you haven’t and assign your chores on your children’s online chart today.
Special thanks to our Facebook fans who helped contribute to the ideas for this post. You guys are awesome!!
March 3rd, 2010 - Category: Family Time
With the hustle and bustle of our daily activities, many parents feel like they are always running behind. It is easy to catch yourself saying things like, “there just isn’t enough time in a day,” or, “Can’t I get just five minutes to myself?” It’s easy to stress about life when we are so busy and are running a thousand miles per hour.
Not only is it hard on us as parents, it’s also tough on children when we are so busy that we sometimes neglect finding time to spend with them. Family mealtime is not only a great way to wind down after a long hard day, it is also a very effective and meaningful way to spend quality time with your children and spouse.
An article on time.com writes that, “Studies show that the more often families eat together, the less likely kids are to smoke, drink, do drugs, get depressed, develop eating disorders and consider suicide, and the more likely they are to do well in school, delay having sex, eat their vegetables, learn big words and know which fork to use.” This in mind, even when we take the time out of our day to have family mealtime, it often doesn’t go as planned and can seem like even more of a hassle adding more stress to our day. Here are some tips help smooth out family mealtime and make it as effective as possible.
1. Don’t Stress About the Meal Itself
Sometimes mothers can over-obsess about cooking an elaborate meal every single night. This is simply not necessary. What’s more important is the consistency of eating together. Less important is what you actually eat. Keep it simple to reduce stress and save the time consuming gourmet meals for special occasions. Though not recommended, if time doesn’t permit making a meal, even ordering a delivery meal and eating in with the family is better than no mealtime at all.
2. Be Consistent
Make sure your kids and spouse know that every night at a specified time, they are to be home for family dinner. Pick a time that will work for everyone’s schedule. Even if some members of the family can only be there for 30 mins, make sure that all members can be HOME for family dinner at a specific time each day.
3. Good, Bad, and Funny
Especially if you are new to family mealtime, it may seem awkward at first for everyone to be together at once and eating around the table. Break the tension and get everyone comfortable by having each person tell about their day. Go around the table and have each person relate something good, bad and funny about their day. You may get some “less than involved” responses at first but eventually, as it becomes routine, family members will begin to open up more and the time will become something to look forward to rather than dread.
4. Plan Out the Next Day
Because life IS busy and individual schedules are always changing, take this time together to figure out the next day’s schedule for each person. Find out whether anyone’s plans need to be altered in order to fit a change in someone else’s schedule. By doing this, everyone can be on the same page and you can avoid being overwhelmed by sudden shifts in your assumed schedule.
5. Relate Good Achievements of Family Members
If you’re a parent, hopefully you are recognizing some of the good things that your children are doing. It is good that you are doing this, but it is also important that you relate your acknowledgment of their achievements, not only to them, but to the other family members as well. Use family mealtime to talk about each family member and their achievements. Kind words like, “You guys should have seen Brett in his game today, he was the best one on the court,” or, “Tracy sure impressed Miss Webb today with her answers in history class,” can really help to bring a good mood into family mealtime.
What are some other ways that you and your family have used to help family mealtime be more enjoyable and less stressful? We’d love to hear your ideas.