The first few years we have with our children can be so busy (and sometimes so overwhelming) that we might not find ourselves thinking about all the things we want to do before they start school. Sometimes we feel like we’re barely making it through the day.
You know that bit of parenting wisdom, “The days are long but the years are short”? It resonates with so many parents because it’s true. Most of us feel like we looked up from changing a diaper and found a kindergarten registration form in front of our noses.
These reminders to stop some of the chaos and enjoy a little moment with your child are not meant as guilt-inducing nags. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure as a parent if your child hasn’t built an Instagram-worthy sandcastle, mastered the art of paper airplane making, and visited every Disney park by the time he’s 6.
The days really are long sometimes, and they can be busy and challenging. That’s why it’s important to simplify your child’s world and take some of the pressure off of them and you.
Instead of letting the days pass by, make the conscious choice to sit down and create an experience for you and your child. How ever busy you may be, it’s always worth making time for a memory that will last your child’s lifetime.
35 Activities to Treasure While Your Child Is Still Little
1. Go on a picnic at your favorite park.
2. Pick a bouquet of wildflowers (and let your child choose what she deems a flower, even if its a weed).
3. Work puzzles together.
4. Make up a bedtime story using their favorite toys as characters.
5. Pull out clay on a rainy afternoon and make models of characters or magical things from your child’s favorite book.
6. While we’re talking about rainy afternoons… Get out those rain boots and jump in some puddles!
7. Write a poem together.
8. And read poetry too!
9. Visit the library and stay as long as your child desires.
10. Play make believe… and make believe your heart out!
11. Go to a park in the spring to feed the ducks and geese and to see their fuzzy little ducklings and goslings.
12. Play hopscotch.
13. Learn your child’s favorite song in a different language.
14. Try swapping, “I don’t like ____” with, “I like it when ____.” See what happens!
15. Let them play in the dirt — at least once. And join them!
16. Make homemade ice cream together.
17. Go under the stars and have a read-aloud with the myth of a constellation (Orion is a great place to start).
18. Hike a local trail
19. Make your own paints and brushes from nature, garb those kids in paint-worthy clothes, then go outside and paint. Get as messy as you can and mix together paint colors to your heart’s delight.
20. Get out the crayons and coloring books (we love mandala coloring books) and let your inner preschool artist loose!
21. Show your kiddo a fun or creative way to deal with stress (jumping jacks, running laps poetry, singing, yoga poses, painting, mantras, or dancing it out are all great places to start). Then everyone can try it out for the day!
22. Create your own comic books
23. Make a cardboard house and decorate it with their DIY nature paints.
24. Show them the joy of giving graciously by offering value when you find yourself before someone in need.
25. On that note, make a point to teach them the art of receiving and appreciating by pointing out examples where value is offered to us by others.
26. Dance to The Beatles and sing to your child from the depths of your heart, “All you need is love.”
27. Play a game where you tell each other all the simple and funny things you love each other. Sing it, shout it, dance it, laugh it, paint it, or jump-it-out on one leg. Have some fun and remember all the things you love about each other.
28. Collect bugs – catch, observe carefully, and let them go.
29. Skip rocks.
30. Build a fort (inside with blankets or outside with what you find in nature).
31. Play in a creek.
32. Have a Yes Day where you agree to all of your child’s (reasonable) activity requests.
33. Make wishes together.
34. Run through a sprinkler.
35. Dance in the rain.
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