Jo Stilwell reminds us that family fun is not about extravagant arts & crafts but about spending time together…
“What can we do now mummy?” Being creative takes energy, clear head space and time – ingredients that many of us are not likely to have spare in these days of lockdown. After another day at home, juggling children, schoolwork, cooking and entertaining toddlers in a confined space, new creative ideas for spending time with our kids are not in abundance.
Those days of thinking ahead and planning an adventure to the park, an afternoon of baking a special cake together or making a card for Granny are long gone as the immediate tasks of daily survival squeeze the life out anything more adventurous than getting the kids to bed all in one piece, hopefully in the right bed!
To top it all off, when we’re scrolling through social media before we head off to bed ourselves there’s all the sickly posts from other mums and dads describing the wonderful art and craft activities that little Shakil made this morning and the panto that Amani and Jade produced, directed and starred in, without a tiff in sight! Really? Intimidation and comparison further suffocate our creative thoughts, ideas and energy.
So how can we bring some fresh activities and fun into the family on minimal internal and external resources. Here are some thoughts:
- Ask others – a trusted friend who will be real and honest – what have they done that their kids have enjoyed. You can share your successes with them too.
- Ask your kids to come up with some ideas. Maybe pick an object (eg. a rolled up pair of socks or a saucepan and wooden spoon) and ask each of them to think up two games where they use the object(s) in the game.
- If it worked first time do the same again – who hasn’t heard their child chant “again, again, again”? Children love repeating things and its how they learn best so if an activity or game is working and the kids are enjoying it, carry on or do it again another day.
- Playing with our children keeps them entertained for longer because what they love most is time with you. Resist the desire to do the washing up whilst the duplo tower is being built; rather, sit with them as they play.
- Children never tire of reading stories or listening to story books together – and they will happily listen to the same story time and time again (although you might be yawning your way through the seventieth reading of Spot the Dog) because it’s not about the story itself, it’s about spending time with you!
- Try and change space throughout the day. A “spot the yellow car” game on the way to the shops can create some fun, a trip to the local rec or park to run around and burn off some energy is refreshing for everyone. When we’re indoors – how about colouring under the bed? Or sticking paper to the window and drawing standing up.
- Make an adventure out the mundane and necessary – “the hoover is coming to gobble your toes…”, “who can count how many clothes are on the clothes drier?”
Our homes weren’t designed for us all to be living in them 24 hours a day and we’re certainly not made to raise our families in isolation so these are challenging and exhausting times for us, as parents, and for our children. We need to be looking after ourselves – by doing something we enjoy whenever we can refreshes us so that we have energy for our children.
The thing to remember is that our children want us more than any game, activity or screen time and being a “Good Enough” parent is exactly that – Good Enough!
Have fun out there and take extra care of yourselves.
If you’d like to find out more about Kids Matter or would like to get involved, as a volunteer or by financially supporting our programme, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And for more on our IMPACT, click here.