I know, I know. You're thinking If it were easy to be a fun parent, we'd all do it. True. But what's not to love about something that's free and fun? You've gotta try these. Really. You'll feel better.
- Play with your child. This could be a board game, Barbies, video games, on the playground, in the backyard, wherever. Join in the fun rather than stand on the sidelines. You'll definitely move up a few notches on your child's most admired list. Don't worry about looking silly. Kids think it's funny when parents play at their level.
- Skip. That's right, skip. When's the last time you did? Take hold of your child's hand and take off together. Skip as high as you can. It's exhilarating!
- Sing. Can't carry a tune in a bucket? All the better. It'll just add to the fun. Sing to your child. Sing together. Let him sing to you. As your child grows, so will their groans when you sing. But then again, so will the memories you're making together. Don't forget to laugh at yourself and never criticize your child's singing.
- Teach them cool tricks like whistling or clapping with one hand.Is there a weird skill you learned as a child? Can you draw something in a special way? Can you still do a cartwheel? Can you speak in a funny voice? Show it off to your kids and teach them to do it too. They may have some freakish skill they can do, too. Let them teach you in return!
- Laugh and smile. As often as you can, at the very least daily. If you're not much of a laugher, start by smiling more often. Smile at your child, your spouse, anything you find amusing or appealing. This will ease you into laughing out loud. Laughing eases tension and raises the fun factor incredibly. It also makes you more approachable, which is critical to your child's security. As a reminder, tape a smiling face to your bathroom mirror.
- Be silly. There are plenty of ways to do this. Here are a few. Make silly rules like you have to whisper all day. Wear wacky clothes. Make up holidays.
- Surprise them. Say yes when they expect a no. The delight on their faces is totally worth it. For example: Can I have dessert before supper? Yes! Better yet, offer it before they ask. Or how about when you see them sitting around doing nothing you say, "What are you doing just sitting there? Why don't you go jump on the bed a while?" A couple jumps isn't going to kill anyone or anything and a surprise statement like that scatters boredom like nobody's business.
- Love their friends. Invite them over. Make them snacks. Converse with them. Take an interest in what they're interested in. This will score big points with your kids.
- Be childlike yourself. Don't be so concerned about being a responsible adult. Be willing to be undignified for a while. Get dirty. Use your imagination. Be creative. You may enjoy it!
- Encourage and praise them every chance you get. Above all, do this one. Let them try things their own way, even if it doesn't turn out as well as your way. The unspoken message here is "I trust your judgment." Praise them for their efforts, not the results. Point out their positive character traits (i.e. kindness, perseverance, honesty) rather than their achievements. Encourage them to keep trying at things that are tough. Always, always cover necessary criticism or discipline with love, as if this one mistake was just an aberration of their usual great behavior and judgment.
How do you have fun with your kids?