Entertaining kids No 2

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This is how kids should entertain themselves.

A little while ago I wrote a blog post about the challenge my wife I faced keeping our children entertained over the Easter holidays. We’d spent a fortune over the Christmas break and didn’t want to make the same mistake a second time.

The post attracted a response from the delightful Maren Wryn. Maren, who lives in Oregon in the US, said; “My mom used to entertain us (me & my 2 years younger brother) by requiring us to “go outside, now!” We were responsible for everything else after that.”

I’m sure that we can all relate to this to a greater or lesser degree. I grew up in a very rural location with two (considerably) younger brothers. There was no soft play, no cinema for Kids AM viewings or Monkey Music. I was sent out with a bike / tent / go kart / bow and arrow and left to my own devices.

I’m not a doom and gloom merchant. I think this healthy approach to parenting is more widespread than is acknowledged.
I do, however, feel that us parents are under intense pressure to keep our children occupied all the time and this can often involve spending money on expensive activities (can I just do a quick plug and mention that I’m presently doing the World Cancer Research Fund’s #MoveMoreChallenge. Read about it here).

Popular opinion would suggest this is because us parents are paranoid about health and safety and so don’t want our kids out in the street or park without a chaperone. Maren’s comment got me thinking and I questioned whether this is the case. I’ve come to wonder whether there are so many unhealthy activities available at home that we’re all spending money to get the kids out of the house and, well, active?

When the school holidays come around, are we dashing off to soft play centres to keep our children away from the iPad? Are we booking intensive swimming courses at half term to keep youngsters away from the Wii?

Are we all doing the wrong thing with the best of intentions? Wouldn’t a swift game of Simon Says achieve much more?

Of course, my children are still very young. A more experienced parent may have a completely different point of view. I’d be interested to hear what you think. Do you do your utmost to keep your children entertained or do you leave them to entertain themselves?

6 thoughts on “Entertaining kids No 2”

  1. Thank you Jobn! Stopped blushing long enough to type this ;-D. I’m glad that remark inspired further thought. I must confess though, like you, we lived in a relatively unpopulated environment where the only predators were the original kind: bears, mountain lions & feral dogs. Even horses can step on a kid.

    This is not to loose site if the important developmental experience in learning what works and what doesn’t – on your own. Avoidance of pain should arise from personal experience. The only lesson learned in an entirely safe environment is a false sense of security.

    And, by the way, you really are a terrific writer. It’s fun to watch you grow and succeed – along with your sprogs! ~ Maren

    1. I’m absolutely all for the kids learning from their own experiences. I wouldn’t want it any other way. Alas my own offsrping just don’t have the same rural upbringing I did. You should see my eldest when we go back to visit granny though; back door is flung open and off she goes with dogs, sheep…everything. A real joy to watch.

      Thank you for your kind words about my writing. Glad to know it’s appreciated.

  2. We live super rurally too…my son (4) and his brother (2) are at home with me, the eldest starts school in September. Most days it’s door open and “off you go”. We live in 30 acres of nothing and they come back for drinks, apples for the horses and plasters when they’re cut and bruised and I’ll do one paid activity a week be it soft play, ice creams at the park, a new app on the iPad…last week we went to a theme park. They only know as much as you show them, keep some tricks up your sleeve!

  3. mummyofboygirltwins

    Interesting! I’ve twin toddlers and feel as though I want to get out every day otherwise we all get bored. But sometimes it’s just to the park, or a walk. They’re not old enough to do much yet but if we do a range of things it keeps us all happy and makes the day interesting x

    1. Oh wow, having two kids of different ages makes it hard enough. I think if I had twins I would definitely spend as much time as humanely possible outside with them!

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