“Come on kids, stop messing around! Let’s get in the car so we can get home and start dinner.” After a nine-hour day in the office, I’m like most other parents picking up their kids from daycare — ready to go. Sure, some days, I’ll let them run around in circles outside or chase their friends, but for the most part, I just can’t get out of there fast enough. But today, my almost three-year-old son got a coin for the prize machine, and we were waiting in line behind another little girl from his class and her father. I couldn’t help but notice that she was enthusiastic and as lively as they come, as was her dad, and their energy was contagious.
After my son had collected his prize from the coin machine, we went to get his sister and all hopped into the car to head home. As I was pulling out of the parking lot, I happened to see the dynamic father and daughter duo pulled over to the nearby pond, bread bag in hand, feeding the ducks. She was laughing gloriously, and they both didn’t seem like they had any place to be.
I have been going to and from their daycare, passing this pond and those ducks, and it has never occurred to me to stop and feed the ducks. Never mind that I grew up near a duck pond and it was basically a childhood rite. And just like that, a simple moment passing by these virtual strangers has created a new adage for me: stop and feed the ducks. (I like it so much better than stop and smell the roses!)
I’m always racking my brain for activities I can do with my children — going to the park, splash pad, zoo, trampoline park — and of course, a lot of it is probably overkill. But when have I ever taken the time to think of simple things I can do as a parent to bring joy to my child?
So now I’m on a search for ideas. I would love nothing more than to gather a list of your favorite ways to bring joy to your children, but I’m also going to share of the few things that we currently do that I think would apply.
1. Stop for ICEEs one day a week after school.
2. Visit the local animal shelters or pet store to pet the animals (even if we do have four dogs and two cats at home).
3. Bring my kids flowers OR donuts when I pick them up from school.
4. Make pancakes for dinner almost one night a week, with sprinkles and whipped cream.
5. Build a blanket fort with them instead of fussing over the ginormous mess it has caused.
6. Forget eating dinner at home and just pick up something to go or prepare a picnic to take out somewhere for the evening. I only do this once a year, but I realized today I should do it at least every other month!
7. Embrace the traditional outdoor sprinkler and water balloons.