Friday, 31 May 2013

Friday, Funday I

Hey Team,

A few quick things to show the kids:

Buskers from around the world singing 'Stand By Me' together. Incredibly moving and pretty funky.

How ink is made. This might be a bit long for the littlies but pretty cool with great industrial and gooey footage.

Some crazy Kiwis made an awesome tree hut complete with a motorised drawbridge, Pink Batts insulation and an outdoor bath. Take a look at their blog here.

Awesome Buzz Light Year costume made of balloons!

Have fun!

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Episode Three: Activity Cards

This is a really easy and effective way to spend time with your children. If you’re like me, you get home from work, the baby is shoved in your arms and from then on until the children’s bed time you’re in constant demand. You end up like with a chook with no head and spread yourself too thin. It makes it hard to spend time focused on your kids - but I’ve found a solution that seems to work: Activity Cards.

On a Sunday, with your children, make five cards or scraps of paper. On these cards you’ll write one activity that can be done after dinner and before bed time each week night. Each activity has a time limit of 30 mins. It sounds like such a simple idea but it really is a great way of letting your children direct your time. One of my boys can write so I give him two cards to write his two ideas on. My middle boy isn’t writing yet so I ask him what activity he wants written on the two cards. Everything has to be fair in my house with two competitive boys so I take the fifth card. I’m sure you’ll find a democratic way to divvy up the cards at your house.


I’m always amazed by the simplicity of the ideas the children come up with, and I hope you will too. Instead of elaborate games and expensive activities, you’ll probably find they want to do things that just involve being with you. “Draw with me”, “Play Lego with me”, “Watch a DVD with me”. These are all simple and easy things to do and they were all suggested by my boys. Looking at each of them I realised that it’s not about what you do, it’s about the time you spend with them. 

The next step is to put all of the cards into a hat or a jar and mix them up. Each night after dinner and after all the chores have been done, get the jar out and get them to pick out one card at random. For the next 30 minutes you’ll be doing whatever is on the card with all of your children. Once a card has been used, take it out of rotation. Over five nights you’ll have done every one of the ideas, spent time with your children and hopefully feel like you’ve made the most out of a little bit of time.

Don’t be surprised if the 30 minutes turns into an hour as you’ll find doing the things they love to do is lots of fun. The cards can be reused the next week, or you may want to come up with new ideas the next Sunday. If you do it often enough, you’ll notice the suggestions will become more elaborate or demanding. That’s fine, it’s up to you to decide whether that idea goes into the jar or not. 

The two take aways from this ideas are 1) You don’t need to put together a big production to spend time with your children. We try and make up for the time we don’t spend by overplaying our hand when we do end up playing with our kids. Children don’t want a big day out with all the trappings once in a while. They want regular, quality time with their parents. It only takes a little amount of time to make a big difference. 2) focus 100% on the activity. Don’t let distractions interrupt your time - no cell phone, no pressing appointments, nothing. It’s hard, but your children will notice your full focus and thrive on it.

It’s a simple idea but it’s one that should make everyone happy. Just don’t get tempted to write “do the dishes” on one of the cards.

Have fun!