I was reading a blog post on one of my favorite blogs to follow, Hip2Save, and felt inspired to write my own post. Readers of her blog, which is a great place to find deals, steals and lots of FREE stuff and coupons(she even posts weekly store ads and tells you where to find coupons to make the deals even better), have been asking for inexpensive and or free things to entertain their kids over the summer months. One person mentioned that she didn't know what she would do with her 2 and 4 year old all summer because she wasn't used to having them around full-time and didn't know how to entertain them.
WHAT???? Personally, I've never had a problem entertaining my kids, and there are so many reasons for that. First of all, the title of "Mom" does have an endless list of subtitles that go along with it, but, "entertainer" is not at the top of my subtitle list. I am certain there are moments during which I entertain my children, but I don't view this as part of my job. If it happens, then they have had a little extra blessing that day. Second, I believe that it is essential to a child's development that they learn to entertain themselves. Third, I don't think it is even healthy for a child to believe that their parent is required to entertain them.
My children, while recently going through a stage in which they are asking for Wii, computer and T.V. time constantly, are usually pretty good at this. I think they're a little burnt-out on school right now, and their answer to this is to sit and do something mindless for too many hours of the day. That's their answer, of course, not mine, so I continue to ration their time as all good moms do while giving in a little more often than normal for a week or two. Parenting is about balance, after all.
At any rate, my kids do entertain themselves. In fact, when Ava was 3, I realized that she did this extremely well, and I felt like maybe I was neglecting her a little during the school time I spent with Lukas. Now, she still entertains herself quite well, but we've learned to balance it better. Lukas can entertain himself too (and he knows not to tell me he's board). They both love to create things with paper, scissors, glue, markers, crayons, etc...and so they have free reign with these things. They play the piano off and on throughout the day. They play on the swing set, rummage through their make believe fort in the pine trees, ride their bikes or scooters, skate board, roller skate, climb the red maple, play basketball or soccer, read, color....PHEW!!! Do kids really need to be taught to do these things these days? Really? I don't think they need to be entertained as much as parents assume they do. In fact, I would go as far as to say that this is something that is a mostly new idea to our generation. I don't believe parents of past generations would have given a second thought to providing entertainment for their kids all summer.
Yes, I get my panties in an uproar when I hear a parent say they don't know what they're going to do to entertain their children while they have them home all summer. I know that I am in the minority in that I homeschool my kids, but, still, your children do not need you to entertain them.If anything, they will be better off if you choose not to be their primary source of entertainment. Their imaginations will bloom. They'll get more exercise. They'll learn to be independent and successful. They'll learn that they are not dependent upon their teacher or parent to make every choice for them. They might even invent something or build something or paint something (hopefully, with your permission) incredible. You might discover a new talent they possess because they were allowed to explore a little more. Giving your children the freedom to simply be kids on their own without you constantly deciding what their next step should be is one of the best things you can do for them. Kids need and even crave free time. Let them have it and cut yourself a break. You're not meant to be their personal source of entertainment.
That said, you will find ideas for free or inexpensive summer fun in my next post because, when you rightfully balance life, it's just plain fun to enjoy a little entertainment and change of pace with your kids from time to time. Just please, please, PLEASE, don't do everything that I post. Moderation is the key, dear readers. All things in moderation!