There’s a stereotype out there about dads that states that when left alone, we will take pictures of weird things we do to our kids---like stack cereal on their faces.
Sure, there are some things we do when mom’s not looking (someone has to be the cool parent, right?), but stacking cereal on your child’s face can only take a few minutes of your time together. What do you do with your child when mom is gone for a few hours, or even all day? If you need help finding activities to do with your kids, here are my top 10 activities:
No. 1: Play With Toys
My two-year-old son loves to play with toys. Recently, he has found a love for superheroes like his old man. This not only makes my heart jump for joy, but now I've been giving him the toys I still have from when I was a kid. We play with all my old favorites and I enjoy watching him play and make noises like I used to. A kid's imagination can make this activity last for hours on end and there is never a dull moment.
No. 2: Go on a Bike Ride or Walk
During the summer, my son would ask me to go on a bike ride everyday. We bought a trailer for my bike in April, and he has loved every minute of it. There is a large lake and river trail by our home and we often ride around and watch the ducks. As an added bonus, the motion rocks him to sleep as we make our way back home after running and playing.
No. 3: Go Out for a Snack
When mom’s away, the children (and man-child) will play. When it's just me and the boys, I make a point to go out and get a special treat. My dad did the same with me and we have a special bond because of it. We usually go down to the closest 7-11 for a Slurpee or go to Wendy’s for a Frosty. Nothing too fancy, just a good old-fashioned snack.
No. 4: Go to the Park
I live in a community with a Home Owner’s Association and that means there is a playground. This has given us countless opportunities to laugh, have fun and bond as a father and son duo. My son loves to climb and jump, so playgrounds are fun for him. Much like going on a walk or riding a bike, this wears him out and gets him ready for bed.
No. 5: Go Swimming
Another draw for my little guy is hitting the water. I swear he is going to be the next Michael Phelps. We live fairly close to our city’s recreation center and they have an indoor pool and splash pad that my son loves. Grab his favorite swimming suit
, maybe pack a lunch, and get out there! By the time we are done swimming, he's so worn out that he’s almost asleep by the time we leave the parking lot.
No. 6: Work on an Art Project
I’m terrible at art, but my son doesn’t know that. He also is unaware that his doggie looks like a inkblot test card. Even though we both are at the same skill level, we both have fun. Of all the things we do together, this is one of my favorites because it gives me a peek into his brain. I get to see how his little mind works and it can be really funny and exciting to watch him.
No 7: Introduce Them to Your Hobbies
I am an avid sports watcher and player. I grew up going to BYU football and basketball games with my dad, and have unsuccessfully (so far) transferred that love to my two-year-old. Even though he doesn’t love watching sports like I do, I still enjoy introducing him to what I love. It gives me another avenue to connect with him for a long-lasting and deeper connection later in his life. If your hobbies are music, singing, theater or anything else, introduce them to your kids! It doesn’t have to be sports.
No. 8: Build a Couch Fort
Couch forts are awesome and every child should have the opportunity to build them. They can be simple or very complex. All that matters is that you have fun building something with your imaginations and you clean up before mom gets home.
No. 9: Make Dinner or Cookies for Mom
Like most growing two-year-olds, my son loves to eat. This one depends on how long his mom will be out of the house. My wife recently went back to school, so we have plenty of time to make dinner or my son and wife’s favorite treat, cookies. By making something for his mother, I am teaching my son how good service can feel. It might not seem apparent at first, but I know he will feel how special it is to make his mom something.
No. 10: Get Them to Bed
If you have enough time, get the kids to bed before mom can get home. She will appreciate what you are doing and you still have another avenue to make a connection with your children. Cuddle up and read some good books
with them, then say goodnight. This is also another way to stand out as an authoritative figure, and not just the fun dad.
So, go play, have fun, and remember to do some of the things your wife would do so she's a happy mama when she gets home.