How far do you need to go when it comes to entertaining kids? Many people are very concerned about making sure the kids are never bored. Here are more ideas for keeping kids happy and healthy without breaking the bank!
This is part 2 in the article “Entertaining Kids.” Read Part 1 of Entertaining Kids here.
Myth #4 – Everyone is doing it so I should be doing it too.
Every generation of parents has had to deal with this statement and we all know the answer: “Just because everyone else jumps off a bridge doesn’t mean that you should do it, too.” We learned it from our parents, who learned it from theirs and so on. It is still as true today as it has been for hundreds of years.
Even though we say this to our kids, we don’t always practice what we preach. We send them mixed signals. Look closely at your life and see how many things you do in your life just because everyone else is doing it. Just because “everyone else” has a new car, a big house and goes out to eat every day doesn’t mean we should, especially if we can’t afford it, but many of us do anyway. “Everyone else” takes their kids to a very expensive sports world, so I should too. They go on expensive vacations, buy their kids designer jeans or a new car… If we spend beyond our means in this way, what are we teaching our kids about money?
Myth #5 – If I don’t keep my child’s schedule filled, he or she will get into trouble.
Do you enjoy having your schedule filled to the max? Of course not and neither does your child. Let your children be kids. No child should have so many activities that he needs a day planner. You and I as adults can’t handle the stress that goes with a jam-packed day planner. Why should we expect a child to do it?
As far as preventing them from getting in trouble, that is one of those “they say” things that I hate. For every study that says, “If you don’t keep kids busy up to their eyeballs, they will get in trouble”, there are two that contradict it. Most of the time kids get in trouble because they feel that no one cares, they have not been taught right from wrong or they are just young and human.
Just the other day my daughter had to pick her kids up from school and the race was on. They were running all over, going from one activity to another. (This isn’t the norm for them, but it is for many families.) The next day my granddaughter said “Mom, do we have to go anywhere tonight?” and her mom said “No.” Elly answered and said “Oh, thank goodness!”
I’m not saying that you should go to the other extreme and not allow your children to do anything. Yes kids, especially teens, need to be active and busy but not to the extreme they are stressed out by it.
I often get asked “What am I going to do?” I need to keep my teens busy but the activities and sports are so expensive. Kids don’t need expensive activities to keep them busy. Have them get part time jobs. My 11 year old grandson has been working all summer mowing yards. He’s learning responsibility and by the time he is done he is too tired to get into much trouble. ;-)
If they are too young and can’t seem to find themselves jobs, have them volunteer someplace. My daughter started volunteering at a hospital when she was fourteen. By the time she was 15, they knew her well enough and hired her to work in the hospital’s flower shop.
Kids can volunteer at the humane society, nursing homes, day care centers and lots of other places. I know different areas have different laws about where kids can volunteer, but there are usually plenty of opportunities. My point is that there are things for kids to do that will keep them busy without requiring you to dole out big bucks to do it.
Like so many other things, encourage activities in moderation. We often think if something is good for us, the more we can have of it the better. Broccoli is healthy for me, but that doesn’t mean that I should eat pounds of broccoli and nothing but broccoli for every meal. Moderation, Moderation, Moderation!
Myth #6 – I’m doing this for my child’s well being.
Are you? The only thing any child really needs is to be unconditionally loved and to know the person who unconditionally loves him will always be there, taking care of him.
God is the best example of what a perfect parent should be. When I really came to the realization that God (my father) loves me (His child) unconditionally and, no matter what happens (good, bad or otherwise), He will always be there for me and take care of me, it changed my life. I no longer needed to be stressed about anything or to do things out of fear– fear of not being accepted, good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, strong enough or rich enough. I was loved and cared for and I knew any moment of the day if I needed Him God would be there for me.
Can your children say that about you? Do they know you love them enough to say no to them once in a while for their own good, even if it means that you might not feel loved by them for a moment? Or do you say yes because you feel guilty (I divorced their mom or dad, I don’t make enough money to give them everything, I haven’t been a good parent etc.) and salving your own guilt feelings is more important than what is best for your child?
Ask yourself, “Am I doing this because I know and love my child and know what is best for him or am I doing this because it is what ‘they’ say is best for them, even if my own instincts tell me different?”
Stop worrying and working so hard at being a parent. Just love them, take care of them to the best of your ability and pray like crazy for the next 18 years. Don’t let what “they” say rob you of the joy of enjoying your kids.
Smile, smile and smile because it will probably get worse– Most of them marry and multiply and then the fun begins!!!! ;-) Just joking!!!!
Wow, this is a great article and all of it is right on. Well, maybe not, you should try to breastfeed if at all possible :) I can speak from experience as a mom of 10, 4 of whom are now adults, that they don’t need all the pushing to succeed extras. My adult son thanks me all the time that we didn’t allow video games, as he has no addiction to them. He has scores of friends who cannot get their college work done. Or worse, neglect their newlywed wives in favor of those games! My daughters know how to keep a house and cook. My eldest daughter’s room mates were astounded that she made mashed potatoes from REAL potatoes! I’m serious. My kids feel grounded and secure. They also appreciate music, sports, and the arts, but their lives are not ruled by them. They will one day thank you for keeping them out of the rat race where winning is pretty empty.
I totally agree too. I have a 15 year old, a twelve year old and a 4 year old. They know the value of a dollar and they look forward to our family game nights and movie nights. It is a chance for us to snuggle on the couch or the floor and spend time together. Sometimes the movie isn’t what we thought and we turn it off and let the kids dictate what we do next. It is all about spending time together. I hear from my two oldest that there are such few families out there that actually spend time together.
My daughter’s biggest realization was this year in theatre class when they were all getting to know each other and one of the questions that was asked was how many families ate as a family. My daughter will be 16 next month and she was the only one who raised her hand. There are twenty something kids in her class ! She began asking her friends and she realized that nobody does this anymore. She was actually appauled by this. She loves that we sit down for dinner together each and every night. It is our time as a family to catch up on what has happened and what needs to be done tonight. We enjoy our family time and it doesn’t cost us a thing !
Grizzly Bear Mom
Don’t forget the time your children need to study, study, study so they win scholarships to college. My mom’s friend’s mother was a widow in the 1949s and educated 10 children by having them study around the kitchen table each night.
This happened this morning. My oldest daughter, who just started kindergarten, brought home another fundraiser this week (that makes three fundraisers in two weeks, but that’s another story). Anyway, this one was for pictures. My husband and I decided not to buy pictures because I take pics of the kids on my digital camera almost every day and we have pics of all three of our kids coming out the wazoo. Our reasoning was that we spend too much as it is printing up pics at Walgreens, that there was simply no reason to buy even more photos. When my daughter arrived at the bus stop this morning, all the other mothers asked her, “Samantha, are you ready for picture day today?” I quickly chimed in and let them know that we weren’t doing pictures. Everyone went dead silent, and stared at me with wide, unblinking eyes. Their expressions were clear. They were looking at me like I had just announced that I wouldn’t be FEEDING Samantha for the next year. I had no idea that this decision of ours would be so controversial. It is hard to not go with the crowd. Now the mommies think I am a weirdo or a neglectful parent (or both)…sigh…
Trust me you’re not!! We don’t do the pictures either. Well, at least not both. We do have them taken in the Spring but that’s because they do a better job then and they are MUCH cheaper. We just buy the one sheet.
I’m afraid of what the other mother’s at our school would think of me! I’m sure I would be some kind of weirdo from outer space. It’s a good thing I’m not on the PTO or anything like that I would be causing some controversies (sp)!
Oops! Sorry, It’s me Tawra. I didn’t know I was signed in under Mike! :-)
Alicia I shouldn’t be laughing at your post but I loved it and know exactly the look you were talking about. You should be an author you are very good with words and funny too.
Thanks for the kind words from the both of you…it makes me feel better to know that I’m not quite the nutball that society would have me believe that I am (either that, or you two are a couple of nutballs also…) We received another fundraising plea in Samantha’s backpack today, so for those of you who are keeping count, that’s FOUR in two weeks…My husband says, Why don’t they just send a note home that says “We are low on money. Can you cut us a check for $50?” . He says that people can either give or not give, but the constant barrage gets a bit weary.
Alicia, is that not the truth. It sounds like your husband has the same sense of humor you have.
Thank you so much for putting it so well. I know parents who keep their kids on the run year round and then complain about it. We have one day a week where we have activities and they are the same day with a 90 minute break in between. That is so we have time for a snack and some down time and is only because they are one mile apart which saves time and money not to be running across town two times a week.
I believe the greatest activity or “entertainment” for your children is your time and total undivided attention. Get down to their level…look them in the eye and listen to their words. Let them take your hand to show you the latest great discovery in their world! It might be a squished (but, cool!) dead worm on the driveway. Validate them with your words, smiles, a hug, and a kiss. Let them know you not only love them, but value how important they are to you and this world. They are a precious and unique creation by our Creator!
Don’t you think kids need some time alone on their own to be creative and imaginative? Too many people (including adults) are over scheduled and have a hard time entertaining themselves with small things that keep you busy but not at such a frantic pace. I often wonder how much stress and anxiety our children will suffer from as adults due to this effort to “keep up with the Jones”.
I used to work as a Kindergarten teacher and I was so impressed with parents who displayed some common sense and did not allow their children to run around accomplishing very little in the name of keeping busy! Hats off to all of you who monitor TV viewing if at all during the week and give your children time to just relax and of course study.
I didn’t realize how much “stuff” we buy for our kids because the other parents are doing it. My son attends private school. He is just starting 8th grade. My 20 year old daughter got a great education at the same school. I was still teaching while daughter was in private school. I am now retired so money is tighter. Also, our daughter has college expenses.
Since I am retired I wouldn’t mind volunteering at my son’s school – but I can’t fit in very well with the people who have more money.
Just this afternoon as I was waiting in the office to pick up my son, another mom tried to sell me a couple of tickets for a fundraiser for the school. $40 for a mom/son bowling night. I don’t have that kind of money just laying around.
I sometimes feel cheap and anti-social but I am choosing NOT to spend that $40-it being tax-deductibke doesn’t help me. I can do other things with my son that are free or much cheaper.
Teach your children skills that are useful, such as gardening, sewing, woodworking and cooking. It fills up their free time and can be a lifelong hobby or future career.