One source of frustration at my house lately has been motivating the kids to do much. When we bring them somewhere (the Adventure Aquarium — see the jellyfish picture — or skiing, or swimming at the Y) they inevitably have a great time. But getting them out the door is painful. The 5-year-old in particular complains bitterly about it. There is something particularly not-fun about hauling a crying kid out to the car to go to the pool knowing full well that he will be crying later because he doesn’t want to leave.
Anyway, I’ve been inspired by Wandering Scientist’s annual Family Fun List. Each member of her family contributes a few items to this list, and they try to do roughly one adventure a month. Entries range from camping to going to Legoland to buying ice cream from an ice cream truck.
I asked my kids last night for suggestions for our family fun list. I don’t particularly want to be the only one coming up with weekend activities, and I figured that if they took ownership of some entries, that might inspire less whining when we decide to do something.
Yes, many potential activities did wind up on there. The 3-year-old wanted to go to the Please Touch Museum as Princess Sofia again (as we did for Halloween). She wanted to go skiing (she went last weekend and got into it). The 7-year-old wanted to go to a professional soccer game and to be in a parade, both of which could be interesting to pull off.
But a lot of the activities, from the 5-year-old in particular, involved staying at home. He wanted to play darts as a family. He wanted to do a family build-with-Legos night, and a family movie night. Indeed, the only potential leave-the-house activity he mentioned was playing games in the pool as a family, but I think he meant the backyard pool in summer, not the YMCA pool in winter.
So I’ve just got a major homebody on my hands. To be fair, he can’t read or get on the internet, so it’s not like he’s going to do some research and find a train museum (which he’d probably really like, too) an hour away and suggest we do that. He does like things like going out for donuts or pizza, or going to amusement parks. But his first suggestions, and plenty from the other kids too (like playing Mario Kart on the Wii together, or eating popcorn while watching Ice Age 3) could be done in our living room or basement.
I think there’s a good balance to be struck here. Leaving the house for a few hours a day on weekends and holidays gives the day structure. We do need some physical activity too. But I’m trying to be better about telling the 5-year-old, in particular, about activities ahead of time, so he can get his head around them. I’m also trying to assure him that he’ll get his downtime. You can play with Legos for 2 hours this morning. Then we’ll go to the aquarium, then you can come home and play Legos again and then watch a movie. There will be time for all those things.
Do you make family fun lists? Do you have some family members who like to leave the house more than others?