We’ve all had those weeks (and months) when “quality time” with the kids meant pressing the mute button during American Idol to help with math homework. Feels good, doesn’t it, when things finally slow down enough that you can center on the ones you love? This week’s Friday’s Five is for the parents among us. Take a look at these great ideas for things to do together as a family, or one on one. Come on, hide the remote and make some memories.
1. Share Your Day. “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day” is Thursday, April 28, this year. And if you think this is something you just do to benefit your child, think again. Many parents report taking as much away from the experience as their kids. A child’s unvarnished opinion of your workplace and what you do there can be the perspective you need. Go with a plan. Check the Working Moms site (even if you’re a dad!).
2. Take to the Road. Slow down a bit this summer and take a driving trip with your family. It’s true, getting there is half the fun, and those long hot days on the road in the wide open spaces can draw you all together as a family. Yes, Barcelona and Beijing are wonderful adventures for a child. But so are cherry picking in Door County and beach combing along the Outer Banks. You’ll be surprised by how long your son remembers eating bacon in Macon, GA, and at how many people your daughter will tell about the world’s world’s largest ball of twine in Darwin, MN. You may get a bit misty, too, recalling how good it felt to wash away the road dust in that Holiday Inn pool just outside Albuquerque. Check here for some good road trip games to get you through the slow times, when the iPods run out of juice.
3. Grow Something. There are few things as astonishing as growing a 50-pound vegetable from a seed the size of your little fingernail. The lessons a garden has to teach are profound and lifelong. If you start now, you and the child you share it with can learn those lessons together. If the garden isn’t your natural habitat, take a look at the BBC Guide to Gardening with Children, Jamie Oliver’s plan for a child’s vegetable garden and this enchanting series of videos about Milly and Molly and their own English garden.
4. Eat Together. We chuckle about those quaint “TV trays” our parents used to have. They conjure images of Mad Men era nuclear families huddled around their Italian Provincial console television sets, laughing together as they downed the grey mass of their TV dinners. But the truth is that few of today’s families eat dinner at the same time—and even fewer eat at the same table. If you’ve resolved to reintroduce family time, even if just once a week, you’ll find some help getting past the sullen silence at this Table Topics site.
5. Say Goodnight. Speaking of silence, no child should go to bed without a story and a hug. If you remember your own parents’ antic bedtime stories and wish you were up to that kind of creativity, check out the website for American Folklore. Among their hundreds of stories, you’ll find your child’s favorite, we’re sure.