Letting your child paint a light switch cover is a great way for them to feel included in making your house more your own. When using acrylic paint it is best to use an unfinished wood cover. If you use a plastic cover the paint will gradually peel off. We used the plastic ones with permanent markers for a VBS (vacation Bible school) craft and the kids loved it.
The paint job pictured to the left here is my 3 year old’s creation. He started with a blue base, then added white, then tan, gray, purple, green, blue, light blue, then brown, and then mommy cut him off because by the time he would have finished we wouldn’t have been able to get to the light switch because of the thousands of paint layers.
Eating outside is so much fun for kids. Fun for parents because you don’t have to clean up spills and crumbs. If it is a rainy or snowy day grab a tablecloth or old blanket and throw it on the middle of the living room and have a picnic inside. My oldest son thinks it’s great and so do our dogs who sneak food when we aren’t looking.
This is a game my son helped invent. It is called Swat the Fly. I drew flies on Post-it notes and he would swat them with a fly swatter. We counted how many he would hit to the floor and how many were left to attack. You can do any variation of this game: mosquitoes, wasps, or maybe pictures of relatives you don’t care for.
Danger is usually a word you want to keep far from your children. Keep kids away from outlets, strangers, stray cats, rusty nails, moving vehicles, allergies, large bodies of water, and any germ on any surface (or maybe the last one is just a paranoid nurse mom’s fear.) While I don’t encourage playing with outlets, or even putting your young child in a bucket of a tractor like my grandpa did. There are healthy ways to encourage your child to do something scary. If they are scared to talk to a grocery clerk, then practice some things they could talk about. If they are scared of a swimming pool, then practice in a bath tub, then move to a baby pool, then work your way up. Let them jump off the couch onto cushions. Let them hammer nails into a piece of wood. There are life-threatening and body-harming activities, and there is healthy risk-taking that teaches your child something great about life. Life is about taking risks and you are their guide. Do Something Dangerous!
Slow and Steady Get Me Ready by June R. Oberlander is a must have if you have a baby or any child under 5 years old. She provides weekly developmental activites to do from birth until 5 years old. I love that they are weekly because that means you are more likely to do them. I have a 10 month old and a 3 year old so I have two bookmarks for their age-appropriate activity. Love this book!
Read whatever you are reading to your kids. Read to them from the newspaper, magazine, or cereal box. Read the instructions out loud when you put together a shelf. Read the recipe directions out loud when you are cooking. Maybe leave out the ingredients on the cans of food or the copyright section of a book or your kids will think you’re losing it.
Babies love high contrast black and white patterns because of their limited ability to see colors until around 4 months old. Give them patterns to look at to visually stimulate them. You can either make them yourselves or here is a website to print some off. Our oldest son rocked zebra print curtains for the first year of his life.
Dancing is by far one of the most fun things you can do with your children. Do it now while they still think you are cool. Monthly, and sometimes weekly, we have our own version of a junior high dance. Only at this dance no one is a wallflower or self-conscious of what they look like. If you are scared you will look like a fool–get over it, because the more foolish you look, the more laughter will explode from your children. Also make sure to shut the blinds when you are showing off your moves because youtube.com could haunt you forever.
Nothing is better than when a little girl gets to help her grandma make 4th of July cake. White cake with cool whip. Strawberry and banana stripes and blueberry square at the top. Make a Independence Day dessert with your kids. You could use raspberries also for the red stripes. Explain how the American flag came to be and why we celebrate each year.
I recently read an article about how spoiled American kids are. The great number of possessions they possess at such a young age. How we as parents are yearning for our kids approval instead of the other way around. The article gave props to the French for ignoring a child so they learn to deal with frustration. While I agree how unnecessary the piles of toys are around my house I can’t help but think that ignoring a child is the very extreme opposite of spoiling a child. My fear is that many children today are already ignored and to appease guilt parents pile on the toys that will keep them so busy they won’t realize their parents absence. So I propose that for a window of time during a day do nothing with your child while sitting right next to them. Sit on the porch and watch the cars go by. Lay on a blanket and watch the clouds float by. Sit by a lake and watch the swans. Talk and listen, but mostly listen. Do nothing.