Kids only get one childhood and we should let me them be kids as long as possible. Society is forcing our kids to grow up way too fast. It’s our job as parents to preserve it as long as possible. There are three simple things your kids should do every week. Whether you’re a working parent or stay at home parent, you can add these 3 things to your schedule with minimal effort.
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3 Things Your Kids Should Do
“A magical childhood isn’t about having the best toys, gadgets, and vacations. It’s actually the opposite. It’s about simplicity. A magical childhood is about freedom. Freedom to explore, discover, and play.”For “The call of the wIld + Free” by Ainsley Arment
THE CALL OF THE WILD + FREE was one of the books that made me stop in my tracks. Reading it gave me the push to homeschool. I highly recommend it!
1. Make a Mess
Messy play is one of the best ways to engage all of their senses and grow their creativity. It’s also the hardest for us as adults to accept. We don’t like mess. Especially when it’s our responsibility to clean it up. The biggest thing to remember is that messy play can happen outdoors! If you are someone that is very particular about your house, make the mess outside!
Messy play can look different everyday. It could be dumping every toy bin out and playing in the chaos. Or it could look like paint, playdoh, or sensory items. Sometimes messy play is intentional. Other times, we have to resist the urge to say, “clean that up before you move on to the next thing”. Trust me, I’m guilty of that!
Kids are going to make a mess no matter what. It’s in their DNA. But what would it look life if we encouraged them to make a mess intentionally? Let me give you some examples.
For parents of babies and toddlers, Sensory bins are the number one way to let your littles have a safe and controlled mess. Another great option would be a pouring station. You could use water, oatmeal, noodles, rice, etc. and give them different cups and spoons to move then contents around with. Edible playdoh would be great for those older toddlers. Bonus points if you let them help make it. There’s some extra mess in there.
For parents of school aged kids, let them dump the entire bin of legos out or empty out the craft bin all over your kitchen table. Let them cook, build, sew, and create. Encourage them to build a fort with every blanket you own. You will be amazed at what your older kids can come up with if given the chance too.
After the mess, use it as a learning opportunity. Starting at a very young ages, you can teach them how to clean up after themselves. Cleaning together teaches teamwork and responsibility. It’s also a great time to teach them how to be part of a household and take ownership of their space.
There is so much good that comes from making a mess and cleaning it up.
2. Get Outside & Get Dirty
Let them get dirty. I’ll say it louder for those clean freaks out there…LET THEM GET DIRTY! Get them outside playing in the grass, dirty, sand, snow, water, whatever. Okay, maybe not whatever. But you get what I’m saying.
Playing in different terrains, elements, and materials engages their senses, works on their fine and gross motor skills, and gives them an appreciation for nature. Don’t just take them outdoors those. Encourage them to explore, investigate, and get dirty.
There are so many health benefits to getting outside and getting dirty as well. Grounding helps to regulate your nervous system and has other psychological benefits. Fresh air is great for your lungs. You get vitamin D from the sun. And we can’t forget how organic materials can positively impact your immune system.
While this is easy for families with little kids, it can be challenging once they are school aged. But this is the time we need to be intentional.
Let’s face it, society is turning our kids into sedentary hermits. They spend hours upon hours each week sitting inside a classroom. Then they come home to sit down and do more homework. By the time thats done, they are sitting down for dinner and then going to bed. What little free time they have is spent scrolling social media or playing games online. It’s up to us to break that cycle.
Getting outdoors and getting dirty with your pre-teens or teenagers takes some thought and planning on your part. Here are some examples of things to do with your older kids: camping, kayaking or canoeing, hiking, fishing, geocaching, take a survival class, or visit a state or national park. If you need to start slow, have a bonfire, outdoor movie night, or build lawn games together and then invite their friends over for a game night. Getting their friends involved is a great way to make this happen.
3. Have Unstructured & Uninterrupted Play Time
Unstructured and uninterrupted play time is so important for kids. It allows them to explore, create, and investigate with no rules or guidelines. Unstructured play encourages free thinking and allows children to use their imagination. They may even test the boundaries a little bit.
This sounds easy, right? But do we ACTUALLY do it?
If you were to look in your child’s room or playroom, how many of their toys encourage unstructured play? Meaning, how many of them do not have predetermined instructions or guidelines. Things like legos, dolls, magnetic tiles, animal figures, cars, or blocks are all great for unstructured play. Put away the games and electronic toys for this time.
Now for the most important part, the UNINTERRUPTED play time. How often do you interrupt your child’s play time? Maybe you do it without evening thinking about it or for a good reason, like mealtime. Before you interrupt them playing, stop and think if what you’re asking needs to be done now or if it could be done later.
I know when we hear “play time” we think of little kids. But did you know your teenage would benefit from playtime as well. Sure, it looks different at that age. Items like circuit boards, model cars and airplanes, modeling clay, embroidery, lego sets, designer mannequins or painting/drawing is all a form of play at that age.
The most important part of all of this with older kids, UNINTERRUPTED. Your big kids have so much pressure and so much is asked of them already. Allow them the benefit of being a kid for a little while longer. Let them get lost playing for a little while. All that other stuff can wait.
Pro Tip: If you’re struggling with unstructured play, get them outside! There is so much for them to see and do out there.
Here’s to restoring childhood in 2023!
Making a mess, getting dirty, and having unstructured and uninterrupted play time are the three things kids should do every week. While some of you may be thinking, “wow, that’s it! I’m already doing that”, some of you are wondering how in the world you could possible add something else to you’re to-do list. I hear you. I am you.
If you’re the parent who already does this every week, GREAT! My challenge for you is to make it a daily challenge.
If you’re the parent wondering how to make this happen, start by taking a hard look at your weekly and monthly schedule. Are all the things on there a priority? Are they helping your family grow closer? If the answer is no, reevaluate where your time would be better spent. Start slow and add one thing in a week until you are able to do all three in a week.
Let this be the year you take back childhood for your child(ren)!
My goal for the week is at least 20 hours of outside time and let my kids do two messy activities. In the comments below, tell me what your goals are this week!
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