Have you heard of The Hub? It just launched on October 10, 2010. It’s a new tv channel for kids and families. They hope to inspire, entertain, and engage kids, while also bringing families together. In celebration of their launch they have teamed up with Twittermoms and are asking members to share 10 ideas for incorporating fun and play into your children’s daily activities.
With a 2 1/2 year old in my house, pretty much all the chores we do incorporate fun and play. I’m of the opinion that you should let kids be kids for as long as they can. We all grow up too soon and have real responsibilities to tend to, so why not have fun while we can? And to be truthful, having a toddler with me every day reminds me not to take things so seriously all the time. However, ask any adult that knows me and they’ll tell you that I’m a stickler for getting chores done on time and on a regular basis. I absolutely despise cleaning up other people’s messes! especially adults.
When I discovered I was having a son it was my intention to instill as many good values in him as I possibly could. The biggest thing for me? Get him to clean up after himself and like to do it.. or well.. at least not hate it. This way when he’s an adult he’ll be able to make his wife very very happy and his Mom, proud.
Here a few of the things that we do to make our daily activities less like chores:
- Dishes – My son absolutely loves doing dishes. Me? No way. I’m 35 and I’ve been doing dishes over half my life and without a dish washer. So when my 2 1/2 year old constantly drags the chair over to the sink and insists on helping, I let him. Yes it takes me twice as long but we’re spending precious time together and he’s learning a skill. I wash. He rinses. Why is it so much fun for a toddler? Being independent is fun. It allows him to to do just that without me being overbearing. He’s also learning how to work as a team and? we’re getting those dishes done!
- Laundry/ Sorting Clothes – Laundry at our house is definitely a daily activity sometimes. Because we have a portable washer that leaks it can sometimes take up to 4 days to get our clothes washed and dried. I just added another child into the mix so now it’s gotten even worse. So how do we make it fun? My toddler helps sort all the clothes. He brings them from all the rooms and out of the hampers near the washing machine or into baskets for his Dad to take to the laundromat. While he’s sorting he learns his colors. So in the end he’s learning and getting a sense of accomplishment.. and in his own little way he get’s to make a mess by dragging the clothes all over the house.
- Preparing Meals – This is probably the best time to incorporate learning, fun and feelings of accomplishment for your child. The best thing you can do? Let your child help. Start out with small tasks. Let them be involved and don’t be afraid of messes. I actually learned to calm down a little and not be so scared of letting the kitchen get messy and in return my son gets to have a lot of fun. He especially loves helping me make cookies or bread, but no matter what it is we eat for dinner I always let him get involved, even if it’s just picking out the pots and pans or getting me a spoon.
- Car Rides – Some people sing in the shower, we sing in the car. Riding in the car can get boring really fast especially when it’s completely silent. From the very beginning of my son’s life whenever we were alone in the car together I would take the time to sing to him and play music. Just a couple months ago this led to Lady Gaga being requested every 15 minutes for a 15 hour drive lol. That’s ok though because all the singing and music I’ve incorporated into his life has helped him to find his own voice and we have a lot of fun.
- Grocery Shopping – Ever been in a store and seen a kid have a meltdown? I’m sure we all have. Even my kid has freaked out in the store ,that’s why when we go now we try to make it a fun/learning event and not a dash in and dash out or one of those events where you give in and stick a donut or sucker in your kids mouth to keep them quiet. Nope, no bribing here. I let my son help me find things. I also started him on learning a “grocery list” at a very young age. We’d lay in bed at night and I’d encourage him to help me make a list of what we would buy. By the time we got to the store he was excited because he had helped me remember everything. It also really helped kick start his vocabulary.
- Brushing Teeth – Having my toddler learn to brush his own teeth is something I started working on as soon as he had his first few teeth. Apparently I’ve made it fun enough that more than a year later my son is the one who tells ME it’s time to brush our teeth. We laugh, we make funny faces, I brush my teeth with him, I gargle and do silly things and overall we make brushing time a light-hearted event and not a chore, which unfortunately a lot of children and parents think it is. One thing to remember that is extremely important. If you show boredom or laziness.. so will your child and most certainly never yell at them about it. We talk about how teeth can fall out if you don’t brush them and how happy the dentist will be when he see’s our teeth are nice and clean. A little encouragement goes a long way.
- Reading – A lot of children love to read but some just aren’t as interested in it as others. My son wasn’t really into it until he was almost 2 years old. That really disappointed me because I thought maybe he wouldn’t learn as quickly but I was very wrong. Even though he wasn’t sitting with me when I read out loud, he was listening to what I was saying and taking it all in. So the number one thing here is that you have to remember even if they won’t sit still long enough to let you read to them, chances are they do hear you. There are ways that I found eventually to make it more interesting for him. I read each persons part in a different voice and I go into great detail when there’s a picture. We stop and take a little break from all the words and we discuss the pictures.. but most of all I get very very animated and make it as fun as possible. These days my son comes to me to read and not vice versa.
- ABC’s – 123’s - For me, learning has always been fun and I take great pride in helping my child. The way I make some of the learning more fun is I incorporate foreign language. I studied German, Spanish and a little bit of French in school and I also married a Norwegian. Every night before bed we do numbers 1-10 in German and Spanish and we laugh at the way the words sound. My son just turned 2.5 years old and he can now say his numbers 1-10 just like Dora, or “D” as he calls her. ABC’s are fun too because we say things like “C is for Cat” and then we meow and act silly. Of course this sort of approach gets harder as your kid get’s older but as long as you keep it fun and remind them of all the things they can do in life if they have a great education, it won’t be quite as strenuous.
- Bathing – We don’t have a bath tub at our house, unfortunately we only have a small stand up shower. You can imagine my frustration when I realized I would have to teach a toddler how to shower instead of bathe. One of the ways I’ve made this more fun is allowed him to act silly and not just rush him. So now showering time is dancing time! In between washing he shows off all his new dance moves and acts super crazy. He get’s out all the remaining energy of the day and when he is done, it’s time to relax before bed time.
- Exercising – Young children need exercise! I can’t believe how many of the parents in my neighborhood have children close to my son’s age and I never see their kids outside. Every single day we go outside to “play”. We could sit in a sandbox or make mud pies but most of the time we learn how to kick a ball, how to catch and sometimes we just run around and chase each other (more my husband doing the running since I was pregnant all summer). We walk to the park, which is 4 blocks away, instead of driving and we generally try to keep active during our play. In the winter time we use the Wii to keep us moving since it’s so cold outside. Most of all, we make exercise fun!
Since my son was able to walk he has been helping me around the house. I took his eagerness to help and have used that to his and mine advantage. We learn while we play, we play while we learn and we try to have fun while we’re doing it. I hope some of these tips and suggestions will help give you ideas so you can do the same.
Disclaimer: I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and The Hub blogging program, making me eligible to get a $50 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.