My nine year old son Noah is a very deep thinker. He can get so lost in thought that he misses everything going on around him. We can be anywhere, doing anything, and Noah will still be deep in thought about whatever topic he’s currently obsessing about. (This week, it’s chimps. As in, the ape/monkey things.) I never have any idea what is swirling around in his amazing mind until he comes up to me with another question. Yesterday, I was right in the middle of something important when I heard a little voice, “Mommy? Which animal is more intelligent? An orangutan or a chimpanzee?” Um, well, I bet a chimp is smarter. Or maybe an orangutan. I can’t say I’ve ever sat and thought about it. Nope, not good enough for Noah. Since Mommy didn’t know the answer, he watched two hours of chimpanzee documentaries on youtube, and carried around his animal books for days, periodically educating the rest of us with his immense knowledge of chimp behavior. 🙂
Oh, and by the way, the orangutan is believed to be more intelligent. Did you know it can count and recognize colors? 🙂
Sometimes we overlook something good because we’re just too busy with something else good. Know what I mean? We’ve talked in depth over the past 15 days about some pretty heavy topics. I chose today’s topic carefully, saving this “C” for last, not because it’s the most important in light of eternity, and not even because it’s the most practical, but simply because it can easily get unintentionally overlooked.
Simply put, it should be FUN to be in our family! I doubt I’m the only busy mama to struggle with slowing down and making room for fun with my children. Between cooking and cleaning, laundry and diapers, homeschooling and ministry, child training and I’ve got to sleep at least a little!–I can forget to slow down and make room for FUN.
As we seek to apply these grace principles in our home, let’s make sure we don’t forget to save time for fun!
Here’s two ways we can incorporate creativity, delight, and just plain fun into our homes:
1. Use playful parenting as a way to change a negative atmosphere in your home.
Ever had one of those days? The kind that feels like a Monday even if it’s not? Maybe you’re sleep deprived, or maybe the kids are sleep deprived, but whatever the reason, you feel like you’re in a boot camp with disobedient children all.day.long? Incorporating fun and engaging children with playful parenting can immediately change the mood from a no-good-very-bad-day to an awesome one! (I wish I’d remembered this advice earlier this week. Oops.)
Here’s how it works:
- Make a game out of cleaning up the toys.
- Give voices to objects (“Mr. Bed says he’s tired of being messy! ‘Fix me, fix me!’ Can you help him feel better by making him?”).
- Sing silly songs with lots of motions as you march around the room and inspect the chores.
- Take on a fake persona, and have her/him reprimand the children. (I slide my glasses down onto my nose and wrap my lips around my teeth and exaggerate my words as if I’m really old and I look completely ridiculous–I know this because Brent secretly video-taped me once–but my children adore it and it lifts the mood in my home!)
- Pick up a slowly moving child and turn them into an airplane.
- Set a timer and race the child to see who can pick up the most blocks first. Let them win. 🙂
2. Create family traditions that are unique to your family.
- Have your own theme song for your family. (Don’t ask me to sing you ours! LOL)
- Give each member of the family a nickname that is only to be used in private. (Again, don’t ask!) 🙂
- Make “family time” a priority! This may mean cutting back on other activities, like sports, so that everyone isn’t running in 50 different directions.
- Play together! Tag, hide-and-seek, relay races, dodge ball, card games, board games, tickle games, pillow fights, cowboys-and-indians, roller skating, ice skating, snow sledding, going to museums or zoos, playing sports together, going to the park, taking a hike, splashing in a creek, climbing a mountain–whatever it is that your children enjoy doing, do it with them! This may take some unselfishness on the part of the parent–especially if your little one is into playing Candy Land. One can only take so many games of Candy Land before one MUST do something else. 🙂
- Have Family Day or Family Night. Don’t leave it up to the church or school to schedule “fun” for your children–get creative and come up with fun activities that will have your children wanting to be with their family!
- Create a family culture by your words and actions. We continually group our family together, using our last name. Saying things like, “Bergeys never give up!” or “Let’s take a Bergey family vote!”, etc, connects the family into one unit, and builds camaraderie between us all. This is especially helpful if you have a blended family.
- Tell family stories….tell you and your spouse’s story. Tell your children “their” stories. My biological children love to tell people what they were “cooked on” (the food I craved most when pregnant with them). Our adopted girls want to hear about how we came to adopt them. Family stories connect. The next time you’re on a road trip with your children, try making up a story, using each family member as a character in the story. Our children absolutely LOVE it when Daddy or Mommy tell stories about them! Of course, there’s bad guys and volcanoes and tornadoes and runaway trains galore–with the Bergey children as the heroes, naturally! 🙂 Such fun.
See how this works? We play, they play, we all have fun, and the work gets done, too!
Playful parenting and family traditions take creativity, but they can make all the difference between a joy-filled home or a boot camp environment!
Today’s Challenge: What about PLAY? Have you lost sight of the need for creativity, fun, and play in your home? Join me in looking for opportunities to play more with our children today!
And don’t forget to check back for the printable version of the 16 “C’s” of Gentle Grace Parenting, coming soon! I know I need that visual reminder to keep everything fresh in my mind!