Although we are blessed in Australia with a truly great outdoors, when other factors come into play such as bad weather or lack of means to drive to a beach or similar, children have a wonderful way of being quiet and calm one moment and the next being as animated as a Tasmanian Devil (think the Disney cartoon kind). They also appear to take to, and welcome routine and sometimes practicality.
Boredom can seep in fast, both for parent and child, and after feeling this myself I fortuitously read somewhere a simple statement when spending time with the little ones, “Make everything an adventure”.
I am certain my wife already told me this many moons ago but as often happens, it takes these lightbulb moments months later that cause me to take action.
So here are my tried and tested suggestions for the dads out there (and mums, but let’s face it, we tend to be a little less patient):
Not only an Aussie icon as a there is practically one in every suburb. Often I’ve raced an ecstatic Finn round it’s huge aisles and he is kept occupied by helping me sift through the thousands of different type and sizes of fixings for that shelf I’d promised to put up 3 years ago.
Throw in their infamous sausage sizzle, genuinely pleasant staff and sometimes even a kids play area and cafe, and they’ve got you covered.
A recent but important household task that I have shared with Finn, this is not only a distraction.
Firstly your green, yellow and blue bins are likely at the bottom of your complex or end of the drive so at a squeeze, you are changing the scenery for them.
Even better teaching a two year old this paper goes in blue and glass in yellow is pretty satisfying, especially when you can test their absorption and memory.
K-Mart / Target / Big W
Far be it for me to encourage wanton capitalism and buying your children whatever they please, but a trip to one of these retail giants can be useful.
Big aisles, ride-on toys and enough stuff can keep them occupied for an hour or so at least. And most of the kids books are less than a price of your coffee so it can be educational too.
I can already hear you groan but granted I am biased due an addiction to the chores. Kids love routine and if you can correlate this with practical tasks earlier, all the better.
I channel my inner Mr. Miyagi (of Karate Kid fame, “wax on, wax off”) when cleaning windows and the little lad even has a magical stick which doubles as a vacuum that he follows me around with, pointing out all the areas I missed. Sweeping is a particular favourite right now. Thankfully he sees all of this as a game and if it means we spend even more time together, I’m all for it.
Food shopping in physical shops is not a love of mine, hence we order the bulk of our weekly groceries online.
But for those extra bits heading into Woolies to grab them can be enhanced. Write a list, get them to memorise it and then repeat as you hunt down the items.
The same goes for posting a letter, kids love the physical act of doing this and you lifting them up to drop it in the post box.
So there you go – making a smoothie, washing the car, hell, even packing away the shopping, there are endless everyday tasks we can include children in. And of course, reward them for the help.
Terry The Tourist – travelling through life observing, telling stories and writing copy.
Heavily featured here are reflections on humanity, fatherhood, healthcare, mental health and lifestyle. And sport if you catch me on a good day.
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