The key to having happy holidays & getting Dad involved with your children!
The key to having happy holidays with your children involves what I call "creative compromise". This means getting the best from both children and parents, and compromising between your children’s likes and dislikes and your own likes and dislikes.
When parents don't aim for creative compromise that meets everyone's needs they often end up frustrated that every activity revolves solely around their children’s desires. This is particularly true for fathers who live a more self-contained existence then the majority of mothers.
With this in mind here's a few tips for fathers to have fun getting involved this summer. Any of these can be tailored your family’s particular interests:
- Look at what your key strengths are as a father and person when it comes to leisure time. For example, if you’re great at barbecuing involve your children. Children love cooking so why not make up your own "secret family recipe" barbecue sauce when you get back from work. Your children will love this hands-on approach and sharing this time with you. As well as concocting a secret family recipe!
- Teach any skill you have to your children. What are you good at in terms of sport? Perhaps you're a strong swimmer. Then build on this and take your children swimming once a week over the holidays. Show them how you perfected your favourite stroke. They'll enjoy learning and then you can all have fun splashing around.
- Children love a bit of an adventure. Try using a little adventure-play in a way that fathers will find fun. Many local areas have adventure playgrounds, etc. Turn the visit into a "spying mission". Dad can pretend he's James Bond while the children are his support agents. Little things like asking them to come up with their own spy names and a "spy code" will get them involved and appeal to most dad’s love of all things 007.
- We teach children to "take turns" and this should extend to taking turns with mum and dad. So strike a deal where they get choose an activity and the next time around dad gets too.
- Keep it simple. Most children, especially younger ones, will be happy simply strolling through the local park with a bag of penny sweets or an ice lollie, holding their parents' hand. Encourage dad to see an “after-work walk” with the children as part of a general healthy-living approach and a little time with the children.
- Life skills can be learnt through some time with dad. If you have a garden then teach them lots of basic skills by camping out overnight together. Not only will they love this "adventure" but dad can escape into the kitchen for a cool beer from time to time.
- Allow them their favourite activity in exchange for a favour to you! If your child can’t get enough of the their favourite toy or game (that bores you silly) then enthusiastically agree to play it with them for half-an-hour as long as they return the favour. For example, they can do some things like set the table, clear off the dinner things, and help with the dishes. But this should all be agreed in the spirit of helping each other out rather than "blackmail"!
- Turn tiny things into fun challenges. Most fathers love a bit of competition so introduce a little competition into basic activities like whoever cleans their teeth and put their pyjamas on the fastest receives a little prize. This doesn't take any effort but it will bring laughter to everyone.
- Cosy "R & R". If dad’s had a long day and wants to put his feet up than compromise over what DVD to watch. Have a few family favourites on hand for such evenings. There's nothing wrong with sitting back and enjoying a family film while all having a cuddle on the settee. To promote emotional bonding discuss the film afterwards giving every family member a turn to play "film critic".