Parents get 940 weekends with their child before they turn 18. Of those 940 weekends, 260 are spent by the time your child is 5. You can thank Dr. Harley Rotbart, author of “No Regrets Parenting” for those statistics and the mini anxiety attack you just had.
Now that we’re on the same page about how valuable a weekend with your child is, here are a few ideas to spend it well.
1) Do a sing-along. Make a list of a few songs that everyone’s familiar with. Vote for a winner and take it for a spin. If you play an instrument, go crazy with it. Analyze which type of pitch (bass, baritone, soprano, tenor, etc) each member of your family can sing well and perform like a choir. Family fun guaranteed.
2) Go to the zoo. Always a fun activity with family, for all you know the zoo might have a few new additions. If things get boring find animals that resemble your kids or (gasp) your spouse. Do this at your own risk, you might end up sleeping on the couch.
3) Create a comic with your kids. Make sure you grant them freedom of artistic expression. They might even reveal new sides of their personality that you didn’t know about. What if they’re funnier than you are? Can you take the heat, dad?
4) Dig out the old VHS cassettes. Rediscover all those videos of when your kids were tiny, perhaps even videos of when you were a baby? Could there even be a tape of your wedding that the kids have never seen? Hide your face while your kids mock you for your really funky hair back then!
5) Go old school: Get a kite, a picnic blanket and some sandwiches and be on your way to a park or a beach. Kites (once you get the hang of it) are incredibly fun to play with, you can even get a few kites and start kite fighting. Alternatively, be the modern parent and get a remote-controlled airplane, these can be expensive but also provide a really fun time. RC planes take a bit of practice though, so plan accordingly.
6) Go watch a game, race or tournament. Game days are memorable events in every child’s life or at least that’s what Hollywood keeps trying to convince me. Either way, cheering for a team or player (like nobody’s watching) is a good way to spend the weekend. If your kids don’t know all the rules of the event, it can be a learning and bonding experience as well.
7) Do a charity event, there’s bound to be something happening in your town for charity. Maybe a blood donation camp or a fundraising marathon or even a plant a tree drive. If there’s nothing happening, you could always organize one yourself. This will teach your kids to always be compassionate and to think of others whenever they take action, values instilled in young children tend to shape the adult they become.
8) Teach them a card game or two: It can be rummy, poker or even Uno. Let the game get a little heated and enjoy as tempers flare and petty ‘I win’ dances break out. Maybe one of your kids is a mathematical genius, wouldn’t a card game be a really cool way to find out?
9) Go to an exotic restaurant for dinner. Make sure it’s a cuisine no one in the family has tried before. Preferably do it on a Saturday, just in case sudden changes in diet don’t agree with everyone. New cuisine is always an interesting experience.
10) Take your dog to the park with a frisbee or a ball, have a great time playing catch or tag with your kids and the pet. If you’ve got a cat, a ball of yarn and a laser pointer work about the same, works better indoors though (in case you plan to knit with that yarn someday).
11) Begin or continue working on a home-improvement project, such as assembling a backyard swing set or building a piece of furniture. Based on your skills and availability of materials, the project could range from a table to a storage shed. Account for time and cost before you begin the project.
12) Plan a family barbeque party and invite your closest friends and relatives. Don’t only think of meat when you hear barbeque, there are plenty of vegetarian barbeque recipes available (google returns 19 million results for that query). Make sure that everybody in the family is involved in the decisions on food, games, beverages and table arrangements.
13) Unleash a mad-scientist in your home. Get a few lab supplies or a kit and teach your kids a little chemistry (all the information is available in the kit or you could do a quick google search). Alternatively, if you’re into engineering and mechanics, get our kit which leans that way.
14) Make it a fix-it-up weekend. Teach your kids how to make common repairs in your home (plumbing, hammering, oiling hinges). It might be a hard sell but it’s a skill every child should possess. They’ll thank you someday. If it’s a really hard sell, try offering incentives like going to a movie or bowling once all the repairs are done.
If you’ve got suggestions for this list drop a comment below and if you think this list is useful, would you mind sharing it?
Have a great weekend.