“When my kids become wild and unruly, I use a nice safe playpen. When they’re finished, I climb out.” – Erma Bombeck
The American humorist sure knew how to sprinkle a bit of humor into parenting – a job described as boring, challenging, thankless and so on. It definitely is a Herculean task to bring up a child; right from changing diapers to handling tantrums to fighting it out with her once she is a teen. All this, and more, takes a toll on parents. But, when there is a fun element present in everything you do to care for your child and bring her up, parenting becomes a breezy affair.
Here are a few ideas to make parenting ‘fun’ for you, and for your child:
- Enjoy the mess; there is always time for disciplining: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. So, don’t stop your child from exploring and making a mess; after all, that’s what children are supposed to do. “Kids are never the problem. They are born scientists. The problem is always the adults. They beat the curiosity out of kids. They outnumber kids. They vote. They wield resources. That's why my public focus is primarily adults,” said Neil deGrasse Tyson, the famous American astrophysicist at a lecture recently. So, enjoy the mess your child creates. Forget disciplining him once in a while. In fact, go one step ahead and join him in messy play!
- Do things together: It may be going out for dinner or watching a TV show, try and do a few things together with your child. If you love travelling, plan a trip and take along your little one. She will surely enjoy the whole experience. “She is obviously too young to enjoy certain things but I want to show her the world as much as I can,” says Sindhuja Amarnath, mother of a 3-year-old, from Chennai, who climbed the pyramids of Egypt last year and the mountains in Kyrgyzstan this year, with her daughter in tow. “Physically, it was very taxing. I had to squat and climb up the whole way with her on my back, but she enjoyed it, and the more she enjoyed, the more I was motivated to keep going. So, it was worth it!” she exclaims.
- Make each chore enjoyable for both of you: Agreed, that with the humongous responsibility of bringing up the child, the element of fun is lost. So, why not combine both? You can teach your child how to be responsible and, at the same time, get down to his level and make it interesting for him. For example, if you need the room cleaned up, have a competition – whoever puts away the maximum stuff faster gets to stay up a while longer or chooses what everyone should have for dinner. If you want your child to do his homework, you can sing aloud the equations or the periodic tables; just make it interesting for your child. It will be less gruelling for you too.
- Make errands fun: Shopping with children seems stressful to most parents. But, with a little imagination, you can make it fun. While shopping for grocery, you can give your child a ride in the shop – make him sit in the cart as you go around picking up what you want. This would work well for young children. But, if your child is a little older, throw her a challenge. Hand her a part of the list and tell her to try and get all the items before you get what's there on your part of the list. If she wins, she can pick up something of her choice as bonus!
- Play with your child: When you take your child to the park, don’t shy away from getting your hands dirty too. “I have seen moms who take their children to the park and sit down in one place, while the child keeps calling out to her to join him. When we go to the beach, I make sure that I also play with my son in the mud; we make sand castles and robots and whatever else is possible. It is so much fun! I become a child too,” says Preeti Srinivasan, mother of a 7-year-old, from London. Try the monkey bars with your child and show him a few cool tricks, and your child will think that you are ‘total fun’ to be with.
- Give in to the wishes of your child once in a while: NO – this is the favourite word of every parent. We always restrict our children from doing what they want to do, in the name of disciplining them. For once, try giving in to your child’s demand and see how happy he feels. If your child seeks your permission to go for a sleepover at her friends’ place, oblige her. If your child wants to come along with you to a concert, take her along. It’s not impossible or incredibly difficult to fulfil such demands. So, say yes, and be a ‘fun’ parent!
- Have special days: This is an out-of-the-box idea but one that can turn out to be enjoyable for the entire family. Give days of the week a name to make them sound special. For example, if your child doesn’t like to have cereals, name one day of the week ‘Cereal Day’. Let this be the day when every family member would have cereals. And, when your child has company, he will finish up his cereals in a jiffy. Want to cheer up your child when he is feeling low, call the day a ‘Hug Day’. While the idea of having special days might sound silly, it becomes fun when everyone in the house follows it and makes it a tradition of sorts!
Making parenting fun is beneficial to both the parent and the child. It will help your child understand that his parents would never pressurise him but would always support him. Your fun and playful attitude will also increase the trust and love between you and your child. Above all, as a parent, you will feel more relaxed and satisfied, knowing well that your child respects you and thinks highly of you. It is a win–win situation.
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