Monday, 15 October 2012

Episode Two: Cardboard City

Here’s a great rainy day activity that doesn’t cost a lot and will get both you and your children thinking. It may take a bit of preparation on a sunny day but it will keep your children entertained for hours. My kids and I call this one ‘Cardboard City’.

All you need is a pencil, a permanent marker, coloured felt tip pens, a ruler, a craft or stanley knife and a fridge box. Most appliance stores are happy to give you big fridge boxes - but remember to ask permission before you start rifling through the recycle bin. Also, it’s a good idea to get your fridge box on a sunny day, often times the recycle bins are uncovered and on a rainy day, soggy boxes will disintegrate in the car boot before you get them home.

You’re basically making a cardboard mat, so at home, using the craft knife, carefully cut through one corner of the box, so you’re able to flatten it out on floor. Once you’ve got your cardboard flat and you’ve put your craft knife somewhere safe, it’s time to start planning your city. I typically measure out roads using a two match box cars side-by-side for the width of the roads. I create blocks of empty sections and draw streets dividing the sections. You may be thinking; “Big whoop, I can buy a play mat with roads printed on it” but, while those types of mats are great, they don’t encourage the sort of interaction and discussion you’ll have with your children.

Drawing your own city on this blank canvas will provoke the ultimate question: What does our town need? Don’t be surprised if the first ideas are along the lines of toy store, lolly shop, amusement park. To us, these might not be the most important features of a city but they’re fantastic and valid suggestions. Decide which suggestions are going into which section and label them in pencil. Once you’ve got the initial suggestions drawn in, get your children thinking about their world around them. What does the real life city you live in need to exist? Houses, police station, dentists etc. Get them thinking about the places they go in their lives - they might like visiting the library. Get them to decide where the library goes. You’ll be amazed at what they know about the world around them. This awareness and what makes a town, and a community is a fantastic thing to encourage in your children.

Once the roads have been drawn in, the empty sections have been designated and labelled, get them to draw the details of their own house or the aquarium they work at. What colour is the roof? How many car parks do they need? Having this sort of say and control over their own little world is a dream come true.

Your cardboard city is a work in progress, try not to fill in all the sections straight away, you’ll find you and your children think of other ideas well after you’ve folded the city up and put it away in the cupboard. If you do finish your town and think of more ideas, all it takes is another piece of flatten cardboard and you’re away laughing.

My boys love our cardboard city and get a lot of play out of it on rainy days. In our cardboard city my house has a six car garage and is only five minutes walk to my job at the Chocolate Fish Factory.

Have fun!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Episode One: Introduction

Hey team, this is Ideas for Dads.

I created Ideas For Dads for two reasons:

  1. To be an online resource for busy Dads to make the most of their time with their children.
  2. To refocus my own time with my own children.

Being a Dad is one of the greatest things you can do with your life, but it is hard work. Sometimes, with the lives we lead, spending time with our children becomes another thing you struggle to fit into your day. It’s not because you don’t love them, it’s just with work, chores at home and the rest of the things that fill that 24 hours - spending quality time with your children is a hard thing to accomplish.

With this website, I want to help you make the most of the time you do have. Whether it be a day, hours or minutes - I want to make sure that the time you do spend with your children is productive, fun and beneficial for everyone.

Every week I will have a new idea for you to try. This isn’t a programme you need to follow religiously, there’s no schedule. I simply want to share ideas every week so you can bookmark it and think ‘Yeah, I could do that’. I also will link to resources that may help you come up with your own ideas.

My name is Abraham, I’m married and I have three amazing children: Seven years, Three years and Five months. Two boys and a girl. I became a Dad when I was 22. It hasn’t been easy and I don’t claim to be an expert. I work full time, 45 hours a week and I found that at the end of a working day, I was too exhausted, had too much on my mind or had too much to do once I got home. This was getting in the way of spending time with my kids. I would go to bed at night full of regret that another day had gone that I wouldn’t get back - time that I could’ve spent playing, reading, laughing, teaching.

Sharing these ideas with you will require some road-testing. This is where my own family comes in. A by-product of Ideas For Dads is that it will make me put time aside to try out these ideas and make the most of my own time with my own kids. I’m excited about what this project will do for my own relationship with my children.

With these ideas, you and I can spend time with our children and have a blast doing it.

Have fun!