I have been trying to do one little thing each day. Make a happy memory with my kids, each day. This isn't an entertain them and make sure they are nothing but happy a day long. This is a deliberate attempt to lighten up and do something with my kids.
I have so many memories of doing things with my Mom, Dad and Grandma. Mostly Mom and Grandma, we made Dad nervous sneaking up on him when he was sighting in rifles or welding in the shop. My memories include a lot of "it's time for a coffee break" and coming back to the house. He also tucked us in everynight. We crawled up in his lap and rode along when he fed cows. My favorite was catching him singing along with the radio, you couldn't let him know you heard him, or join in, because he would stop and I loved listening to dad sing. And how he would wink at me when he caught my eye.
With Mom, there was horseyback rides, baking cookies and cakes, homemade playdough, coloring, reading books, milking cows, crafts, putting together puzzles and about anything to keep us occupied. We lived next door to Grandma and she always had crafts, workbooks, construction paper, board games, gardening, and fun surprise activities like treasure hunts or a trip to town!
These small little activities which were cheap and usually quick are some of my favorite memories from my childhood. I want to make those kind of memories with my kids. There is a lot of sending kids out to play, some pushing on the swings, watching them splash in the pool or run through the sprinkler in summer. Taking a quick walk around the block. Going to the playground and bringing lunch outside for a picnic. You get the idea.
Somedays, I want to do something extra special. Especially when we are housebound for an extended period.
Monday the Big D wanted a Wall-E costume. I made his brother one for a Halloween costume a few years ago. Plus D feels left out when his big brother is in preschool. So I measured him and grabbed a box from the garage. We cut out holes for arms and his head and grabbed paint and brushes. Washable paint. He loved it, and really didn't get that dirty. I did the final touches and referred a toy Wall-E. It finished drying by the time we picked up J from preschool. Then I had to make improvements to the original because I didn't have as much detail as the new one. My children played for hours with cardboard boxes that cost me $0 and about an hour and half of my time. As a bonus we were out of the subzero windchill temps. (Looking at the video I can tell baby sister entertained herself by emptying and scattering the contents of the laundry basket.)
Thursday we made kool-aid play dough. 5 minutes to make, with them taking turns dumping ingredients and stirring and several hours of playing at the table. How have I forgotten the joy of homemade playdough. Limited colors is key. Too many options is a mess and a fight over who gets what. We made their favorite colors: red and green. Or cheery and lime as the boys love that the dough smelled good. (1 cup flour, 1/2 cup salt, 2 tsps cream of tartar, 1 packet kool-aide and 1 cup boiling water with a bit of oil. Mix, pour, stir, divide evenly and play)
Today I was looking online for ideas. I found a winner: (1) wrap wooden blocks with tin foil (2) have a treasure hunt. Cost $0 time to make under 5 min, entertainment value close to an hour. It was good practice for hiding Easter Eggs, even the baby liked finding treasure. They practiced counting skills to make sure they found them all and got clues for the few they missed each round. Next time I might dress them up like pirates....or do it outside.