by Billy Mitchell
Let’s face it: Children are fun and a responsibility.
As a parent, you need to strike a balance between
responsibility and fun. You know the responsibility
part, but sometimes you need to be reminded of
where the fun is. Here are some handy hints to
get you started on having more fun with your kids.
Your schedule has just gone
out the window. Taking care of children is like
suddenly being on a half time zone; add at least
half hour to every estimate. Plan ahead, but be
prepared to have those plans altered by little
mishaps or sidetracks. Enjoy the ride, breathe
deeply and savour every moment. You'll find an
extra change of clothes and a first-aid kit help
keep the stress level down, too.
It's nice to know everything
about everything, but sometimes let your children
teach you about things that you thought you already
knew. When asked what a word means, go pick up
a dictionary and look it up together. Make sure
that you ask what they think it means first. You
will have some good laughs and then go look it
up together. I recommend a real, book dictionary,
not an electronic or web dictionary. Leafing through
the pages with your child provides a tactile, tangible
experience with language and meaning. You'll probably
find a few other words on the same page that are
fun words as well.
Think back to when you were
a child. What was fun then? Mud-pies. Blanket forts.
Sandcastles. Cardboard boxes. Paper airplanes.
All these things are simple fun that won't cause
you to open your wallet every ten minutes. And
it forces you to rediscover your silly side.
Lower yourself, physically,
to your child's level and see the world from his/her
perspective. Crawling around on the floor or at
the playground may not be so elegant and may raise
eyebrows on other parents, but you'll get a better
feel for the world your child perceives. While
you're down there, you'll have a chance to check
for potential hazards (and dust bunnies). And,
what the heck, do some sit-ups or stretch and set
a good example.
Get down and boogie.
Everyone likes music and children
are no exception. Toss on some tunes and let the
fun begin! Around our house bluegrass, swing and
zydeco get the kids dancing while movie themes
like Henry Mancini's Mission Impossible spawn spontaneous "mystery hunt" games.
The more variety, the better. Let your children
find their favourite music by exposing them to
lots of different styles; the more variety, the
better. Keep a little Mozart and Debussy on hand
for a wind-down afterward.
So, those are some guidelines for adding more
fun and value to your time with your children,
now here are some special things to do in October:
Visit a pumpkin patch.
Pick some apples.
Make a donation package with the kids to a
Food Bank or local charity for Thanksgiving(
Don't forget to add a couple of things to make
Take a walk in the woods. Look for the nicest
fallen leaves. Pile them up as high as you can
and dive in
Try to explain why we set the clocks back.
Don't forget to change your smoke-detector batteries
while you're at it.
Bill Mitchell is a father, actor, writer and comedian
from BC. He'd like to do more fishing, canoeing,
white-water rafting, hot-air ballooning and mountain
biking, and probably will, once his youngest kids
get a little bigger. You can find him on the web