Hi! My name is Monique and I'm guesting posting here from Pocket Full of Whimsy. If you check out the "about me" on my blog you'll see that I'm a "retired" junior high teacher turned "mostly stay at home" mom :) On top of raising my my two children, the boy one (Miciah) and the girl one (Hannah) I also run a photography business called Blink Photography and am a weekly columnist for the local paper (Lifestyles).
I'm happy to be here on Jen's blog Shadow of Grace. Jen and I met through Athletes in Action at the U of R and were roomies for 2 years in our stellar 1500 sq foot apartment. Such a great place, hey Jen?
Jen asked me to share in her "Intentional Home" series about creative dates for children, a topic right up my alley as my weekly column "ifamily" is all about creative dates for families.
I've been very blessed to be able to encourage families each week in my community to spend quality time with one another. Quantity and quality time are really important in our family and something that we are very intentional about. As a teacher I've seen my fair share of children who have grown up in homes where they were little more than accessories and have been left to "the world" to raise. T.V., teachers, coaches, and friends have had much more influence then their parents have. I believe that raising kids is a calling and we need to communicate value to our children. We can communicate that they are a priority in the time that we spend with them.
I think a lot of the time parents have a hard time engaging their children because they don't feel interested in the same activities and therefore find themselves often bored of "play times" with their kids. I'm not going to lie - I hate playing trains. My son however could play hours of trains all winter long. I can barely make it 3 minutes. If playing trains was the only way I could play with my son, it'd be painful. That's why I try to be creative and switch it up a lot. It makes the time we spend together fresh and exposes them to new things.
Last year I wrote a column about Family Track and Field. I had readers tell me about how they used the idea for family dates and how much their kids loved it but I had yet to actually do it myself! Bad - I know. This week I invited a couple of friends of ours and their kids to have a mini toddler track meet at the local school.
It didn't take a lot of supplies. I just filled this bucket with a set of pilons (Dollar store), 3 tennis balls, award ribbons and a set of flags I made from bamboo skewers and scrapbook paper.
We started out by trying a little running long jump :)
No need to take turns... just all run and jump :)
Hannah loves running long jump! Though she mostly runs up to the board and stops :)
Next up is ball throw! Have the kids grab a ball and take turns throwing. Place a flag where each lands and challenge them to throw farther than their flag. An emphasis on doing their best is what's important here.
Race time! Use the pilons to create your various length tracks and let them run! These guys ignored the pilons and just ran the entire school yard to the fence multiple times :)
On your mark, get set, go - or pose for the picture... whatever floats your boat.
Back to the jumping. Here's Hanny doing some standing long jump. (aka big step into the sand.)
You can also see in this pic the ribbons that we gave them for completing each event.
Friends :) And the only 2 of 8 kids that would pose for the group shot.
There are so many fun dates you can do with your kids that require very little money and just a little bit of planning. Some of my other favourite dates have been making a comfy bed in the back of the SUV, loading it with snacks and driving out into the country to park and watch a movie together on the portable DVD player, doing a progressive fast food supper (eating a different course at each restaurant), and pitching a tent in our basement for winter camping.
If you'd like more ideas for fun and creative family dates you can check out my blog Pocket Full of Whimsy and click on ifamily.
Thanks for having me Jen!