In today’s world, there is so much to enjoy! And most of it costs money. Lots and lots of it.
I don’t take that away from any entertainment park or movie or ride or indoor play area. I love it all, too.
After all, we are stimulated by excitement and colors and smells and food. We get excited with all of the whizzing and whirling around us. It is good! Must do that! Must go again! Me want more.
Yep. My kids are the same (Well, at least my oldest. She is 7, after all. My youngest, he’s 1—he’s happy simply if his diaper is clean).
BUT—the problem with all of the excitement of the world is that it costs money. And sometimes it costs lots and lots of money.
So, today, I would like to share with you some treasures that we frequently forget. Some will cost a little money. Some with cost absolutely nothing. But, overall, they will remind us all that Simple Joy can exist—and children do love it so!
1. Go on walks with your children:
But don’t set time limits. Okay, maybe two hours 😉
You see, we live in a little village of Poland and we have approximately 2 neighbors. The rest of our neighborhood is wheat fields, corn fields, and pine trees. It’s also dirt roads, and mud, and blueberry bushes, and rocks, and sticks, and dandelions, and insects. It is glorious. And, when in Poland, we go on walks. Daily.
We don’t rush our walks. We take our dogs. We observe every inch of nature along the way. We even pick up sticks. Sit ourselves down in the dirt. And sometimes draw pictures for an hour—with our sticks—in the dirt.
Walks are grand!
Walks are also great times to visit about the day.
And walks are free.
So, I say, “Walk On!”
2. Put up a swing:
May it be a rope swing, tire swing, or swing set.
We currently have a very large tree outside of the house we are renting. It has large and strong branches. My husband, a former (well, maybe present-day but hasn’t gone in a LONG time) rock climber has many, many feet of good, sturdy rope. Rope PERFECT for the PERFECT outdoor invention—The Swing!
And he rigged it up. Rigged it up real good. Safe and Secure. Voile! Our kids. Our cousins. Our friends. They all have a swing.
If you think a rope swing will only entertain the youngest, you are wrong! Even the teenagers will spend an hour swinging—rather wildly, I must admit—but it’s as if their inner-child (which existed, you know, approximately a year ago) comes out.
Cheeks extend. Teeth show. Smiles abound.
And so I say, “Swing On!”
3. Incorporate Water:
Be it a small pool, big pool, Slip and Slide, sprinkler, water soaker, or even frozen water! Water rocks all.
While it is still warm and sultry, it’s the perfect time to get your kids outdoors. The problem is that sometimes it’s a bit too hot.
Kids will play all morning, all afternoon, or all evening outside IF there is water (and of course appropriate swim wear and suits and hats and sunscreen)!
And don’t limit the water toys. If they have plastic toys that can get wet-incorporate them. My daughter will play for hours with her friends in the water while their imaginations take them to castles and kingdoms beyond my adult creativity!
Maxwell…well (for the younger tykes), throw out a few plastic buckets, and he’s good to roll.
But don’t limit the water play to just when the skies and the sun are out and shining. Play with water in the wintertime too!
In our backyard, God has given us a gift—our very own flooded area of land that freezes!
And, so, what do we do…My husband sticks on thick boots. My daughter pulls on warm clothes and skates, and the two of them run out on the ice and skate all around! And, as long as Mr. Frost does not get their noses, they play and play and play long into the night. Coming in only when their lips are blue, their toes are frozen, and their tummies desire cocoa goodness (Hot, of course!).
So, be it warm Summer water or cold Winter ice—Water is possibly kid’s best friend!
Therefore, “Water On!”
Camping can be in your backyard—or at a site. The idea, however, is to leave everything fancy behind and just be. Be.In.Nature. Oh, yeah…And fish!
As you can tell from my previous blog, “I’m all for naked babies, but naked rollerbladers?! Woe.To.Me!” I am a huge fan of camping.
First of all, if you don’t have money for a lavish vacation, camping still helps take you away from home, leaving all the dirty dishes and unkempt floors and rooms and piles of laundry behind, and allows you to go be in nature.
Camping teaches you peace.
Camping teaches you quiet.
Camping teaches you simplicity.
Camping teaches you to appreciate all you do have upon returning home!
And camping gives kids the GREATEST gifts of all: mud, water, nature, pinecones, wild animal spotting, and the likes.
It allows the kids to roam in their bathing suits for days on end. It allows you the opportunity to sit in a lawn chair (or camping chair) and read a book.
When is the last time you actually got to read anything (Other than my blog, of course)?
Camping requires effort—but its rewards are GREAT!
My motto will always be, “Ditch the home and Camp On!”
5. Visit a local Fire Station
Give your children an opportunity to visit local heroes, check out the awesome trucks, receive some free loot, and say THANKS all in one visit!
The best way to go about this is to find someone that knows a local firefighter, and then set up a time for you to stop by his/her station. If they are not on a call, they are (usually) more than happy to say “Hi!” to your children.
And even pose for photos. Can’t beat that.
So I say, “Community Visit On!”
(Not as catchy as the other slogans, eh?!)
6. Involve them in free after-school activities:
One blessed thing about the school that Adelyne attends are the clubs! We have enrolled Adelyne in both the Running Club, which is great for the heart, and the Junior Chorus, which is great for the soul! Get it? Heart and Soul!
The Running Club only lasts a season, keeps the kids in shape, promotes healthy lifestyles and living, and even has races with other local schools.
I did mention that it’s FREE, didn’t I?
Can’t beat that!
The Junior Chorus would meet once a week. And the songs they learned from their phenomenal choir teacher were awesome (Drag out awesome…that’s how great they were). And, after the season of Junior Chorus was over, there was a fantastic concert!
The kids got dressed up. The parents got dressed up. The kids sang their hearts out. The parents cheered their hearts out.
Awesome (Drag out awesome again-that’s how awesome it was)!
So, make sure to check your child’s school for what clubs they have—and especially keep your eyes open for the FREE ones!
Definitely, kids, “Club On!”
7. Last but not least-“Simply” Give them your TIME:
Time, the rarest and yet most precious commodity in the world! And it’s the one thing your children crave the most from you. You! And your time.
I know that we as mom or dad are busy, busy, busy. And we usually have more than one kid. And we have the laundry. And we have work. And we have the cooking. And we have the cleaning. And we have the poopy diapers, the homework, the children’s activities, the church activities.
“And in all of that, you want me to exert extra time? From where does this magical time come?” You may ask.
It comes in the midst of work. In the midst of cleaning. In the midst of cooking (okay, not literally in the midst of burning the food, by the way). In the midst of taking off your shoes and sitting down to relax for 5 stinking minutes.
This magical time comes ONLY when you, the magician, make it appear.
And that is why it is such a precious commodity—because sometimes we don’t make it appear. And, unfortunately, it is far too rare.
We as the mom. We as the dad. We as the parent need to realize that the house can stay dusty or the floor messy or the laundry undone so that we can invest in our greatest commodity-our children!
And we need to go outside with them. We need to get on the floor with them. We need to see them at their level—and we need to play.
Play like there is no tomorrow!
Or, perhaps, if you are a dad with a daughter…
Put a little British spice in your life—have a tea party, at your house, and tell your daughter to invite all of her friends!
Adelyne and Maxwell’s daddy has a name. And it’s Puk Puk (sounds like pook—but it means knock-knock in Polish). It’s his name as their horse. Isn’t that the most appropriate name a daddy horse could have? After all, that’s what our children are doing—many times—for our attention: Puk. Puk. They are knocking at our doors-for our attention. Puk. Puk.
And sometimes, we don’t even answer.
So, my friends, give your children the simplest gift of all—time. Their hearts will forever thank you for it.
And your soul will sing.
Therefore, put the laundry down and “Time On!” parents. “Time On!”
*What other grand and rather free ideas can you share? We all want to hear*