6 Activities For Your Children This Half Term
There was an uneasy pin drop silence when Mackena announced to her children 15, 10 and 8 years that she would hang out with them over the last school holidays.
She will never forget the uproar that followed that silence. Her children accused her of wanting to spy on them, dampen their plans and all manner of things. Only her eight year old showed some anticipation of spending more time with her. She almost changed her mind at the response, but with her husband’s support she soldiered on. Three weeks later, her relationship with her children had changed. Previously, they only exchanged pleasantries and necessary updates, now they were falling over each other to share their activities with her. They had become a family.
Marion, a homeschooling parent is constantly with her children. She does not send her children away. They are accustomed to being together and do not think twice about planning activities as a family. If anything, the children are disappointed when their parents cannot join them. Sounds like the script for Seventh Heaven right there, but you can do it too.
Not too many parents are courageous enough or have neither the time nor energy to take up Mackena or Marion’s challenge. Many parents’ panic once the holidays or even the weekend comes around as they wonder how to keep their children occupied and out of trouble. Boredom leads to trouble no matter what age the child or person is.
The default setting for the urban parent is to plug their child into whatever program is running over the weekends or during the holidays. It could be church camps, craft centers or the neighborhood mall’s children’s’ program. This will hopefully keep the children busy. The other alternative is to send them packing to visit their grandparents or their cousin’s place for the holiday.
Related: Homemade Playdough for your Child This Holiday
This coming year, rather than send your children packing at the weekend or during the holidays, take time off and hang out with them. Doing things together is one way to bond without too much pressure. The actual execution will require a bit of patience and planning on your part as the parent. Keep the end in mind; getting to know who your children are. This is especially true if you hardly get to see each other due to differing schedules or if they are in boarding school.
As you prepare yourself for time together with your children, plan activities that will be enjoyable for everyone. Select a mix of educational, plain and simple fun activities that are pocket friendly if you are on a budget. Also, be prepared to let them have a say in what they want to do, or how they want to do it.
Every day Activities
Helping out with homework can be an everyday affair if you are courageous and patient like Susan, mother of four. She sits down with her children daily and is available to help with their homework challenges. She admits that sometimes the topics and teaching style are a challenge for her but it has given her the opportunity to keep up with what her children are learning at school. It is also an opportunity to find out what actually goes on inside the classroom outside of the typical “School was fine!” response.
It may not seem like it, but children love routine. Apart from making life easier, routines can also be an opportunity to bond. Monica has set up a bedtime routine for her four children. Each child gets some mummy time with her at the end of each day; a short time of reflection and prayer, then they get tucked into bed. Each child knows they will exclusively get mummy’s ear at the end of the day; they love it. Weekend breakfast routines can require that no one has an early morning activity so that the whole family can eat together. The same can apply to dinner.
Weekly or Monthly Family Activities
3. Game/Movie night
There is a corner of the Otieno household that is piled high with board games and family movies. Once a week they pick either a game to play or a movie to watch together. When was the last time you played a board game? Remember the likes of snakes and ladders, ludo, checkers, monopoly, jigsaw puzzles? As you play with your children, teach them how to win and lose. The theme of the selected movie could be used to bring up discussions on difficult topic. It is a simple way to find out what your children think about different issues and demystify difficult areas of life.
4. Time Outdoors
If the weather is good, head outdoors. Hiking, outdoor challenges or picnicking are relaxing ways to bond with your children especially the older ones. There are numerous places to visit such as Karura Forest, Ngong Hills, the Arboretum, which will get you out of the urban concrete forests of houses and apartment blocks. For the younger children, short walks around the estate are great opportunities to explore the neighborhood. As you bond, your children will draw your attention to things that you would not normally notice.
Most children love working with their hands. A handcrafting project could be a bonding avenue for you and your children over the holidays. It could be theme based e.g. Easter, Christmas, or educational – types of animal, or just general crafting techniques – molding, jewelry making. The internet is a great source of crafting ideas. Crafting supplies can be found quite easily; paper, string, glue, paint. The goal with crafting is not so much artistic but more creative. Children should be encouraged to participate as much as possible. It is in activities such as this that bonding occurs and talents are discovered.
6. Educational Trips
A visit to the National Museum, national monuments, the animal orphanage/safari walk, or a drive around the national park, a tour of the art centers like the Godown, Kuona trust, a trip to Ostrich Park, Lake Magadi, Hells Gate in Naivasha, or Mt Longonot. Nairobi and its environs has a variety of locations where you can learn about the history of this country or appreciate it scenic and natural beauty together with your children. You can share your experiences growing up in a different era.
Even as you organize bonding activities with your children, allow them to have a day when they can choose to do what they want to. If they want to do their thing on their own, let them. It is a good learning process to take a step back from telling your children what to do and nudge them to make choices of their own. The more you trust them to make their own choices, they more responsible they may become and look to you for guidance.
Consider putting bonding with your children at the top of your list this coming year. The sooner you start the better. In this way, you will be able to hang out with your children on a regular basis and they will cease being strangers in your home. The more time you spend together, the more your children will see your human side. They will quickly get used to the idea of being around you all day and will be glad to have the opportunity to be able to spend time with you.
More about Parenting and Children on Ory’s Blog