How often do you hear someone say, “life goes by so fast”?
I hear it all the time and it is true, everything seems to happen so quickly. However, everyday we have has the same amount of time in it. One day doesn’t actually go faster than another. It is just the way we live that day that makes it feel fast or slow.
I especially notice how fast everything goes in the summertime. I want to cherish each day, but some days feel like just a flash and I can’t even remember what we did. Everywhere I look, people are rushing around to get somewhere. Kids are scheduled in so many activities that they never have time to just ‘play’ without structure. When you think about your own life, are you constantly moving from one thing to the next?
It can be a challenge to live intentionally with kids.
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Living a slower paced, more intentional life is important for us and our kids. The truth is, the busier you are, the faster life happens, often without much intention and enjoyment. When I first starting staying home with my kids, I felt guilty if I wasn’t providing them with stimulating activities all the time. I had a scheduled outing pretty much everyday and had my son in so many activities he couldn’t see straight. I have never been someone who felt like this was important, but for some reason, I gave into the pressure from the world and thought I was doing him a disservice if I didn’t engage him everyday. We went to library story time, art class, the swimming pool, music class, among other things. Don’t get me wrong, all of these activities are valuable in their own way, but it’s this kind of scheduling that makes our lives fly by.
Living an intentional life starts with choosing the way you spend your time, not scheduling every second of every minute.
My day starts with an hour of quiet time with God. I am very intentional about this. My body and mind need a time where it is completely quiet and calm. It benefits kids greatly to participate in a quiet time for their minds as well. Intentionally scheduling downtime for your kids is just as important as doing it for yourself. If your child no longer takes a nap, think about a way to incorporate a quiet time somewhere during your day.
As you begin to plan out your days, think about activities that you can engage in with your children, but don’t feel like you have to spend every minute entertaining them. Boredom is okay. In fact, it is a good thing to allow your kids to figure out how to be bored and be okay with it. Watch the creativity that happens when your kids are bored. Like really bored. Past the whiny, “I’m bored” stage and into the, “I guess I better figure out what to do with myself” stage.
Here’s a list of toy free and media free activities you may want to try.
None of these activities are meant to fill your day with yet another thing, but rather ideas to help you engage with your child and spend more purposeful time together. Just know, not everyday has to be spent this way. It is perfectly fine, and necessary, to have days that do not revolve around family time, where your kids can be more independent and you can get a few things done too.
Many do these activities are listed with summer in mind, but most could easily be done at anytime throughout the year.
Want this list as a checklist, download it here.
- Photo scavenger hunt– take your camera out or a kids camera and do a little scavenger hunt. Here’s one to get you started!
- Nature walk- get outside and go for a walk. Talk about nature, look for bugs, bring home treasures, and just have fun.
- Visit different parks– find new parks near you or visit a new town and find their best parks.
- Have a picnic- find a nice place to eat outside. In your backyard or somewhere in town will work perfectly. My three essentials for perfect picnics with kids; foldable picnic blanket, collapsible shade tent, and bento boxes.
- Go out for ice cream– treat yourself and your kids to a treat!
- Do a baking project– get out a favorite recipe or try a new one and involve everyone in the mixing and baking. These are our favorite cookies
- Get Crafty– find any materials lying around your house and make a family project. Here’s a great little kit with all you need!
- Learn a new skill– find a new skill you can all do together. Maybe a sport, music lessons, a new language, painting, anything really.
- Grow something– plant a flower, grow some vegetables, and work to take care of them together.
- Play with water– my kids can play with water forever. Fill a small tub and bring out cups to pour and scoop or just get out the hose. If you want something more permanent, this is a great water table. Make sure to keep a constant watch on your kids to make sure they are safe.
- Do an experiment– kids love experiments. Just the idea of mixing things together and watching what happens is exciting. This science kit is perfect to get your little scientist started!
- Build a model rocket– build the rocket together and watch it launch!
- Write a book– you could write a book altogether or each create your own. Once you’re done, use mixbook or shutterfly to turn it into a real bound book.
- Start a journal– give each person a simple journal prompt each day or once a week and teach your child how to draw or write in a journal. This not only provides great writing practice, but gives your child practice with thinking and relaying ideas.
- Go to the library– visit your library or go to one in a different town. Spend time reading together in their comfy chairs!
- Make an obstacle course– make an obstacle course inside or outside. Check out this website for some great ideas.
- Draw the scenery– get each person a sketchbook and periodically stop to draw what you see. You can be sitting on your porch, out for a walk, or you might even see something as you are driving. It is fun to have a set of pictures from each person in the family done from the same scene. They do not have to be a masterpiece. Even the youngest kids can have fun.
- Make a bug habitat– here are some great directions for making an easy bug habitat. Or you can start an ant farm or raise caterpillars and watch them become butterflies.
- Help a neighbor– do something nice for someone else, such as, taking out the trash, raking leaves, painting, cleaning the house…
- Go to a museum– there are lots of museums both big and small. Try to find one everyone will enjoy.
- Paint a piece of furniture– find a piece of furniture from a second hand store that you can refinish together.
- Build a fort– outside or inside, forts are always fun!
- Build a slip-n-slide– a hose and a few more supplies can turn a hot day into a really fun family day.
- Make a miniature golf course or go to one– enjoy a day at a miniature golf course or if you are handy, make one in your backyard.
- Declutter your house– make it a team effort to find items you no longer need to donate or sell for some extra family cash.
- Start a small business with your kids– if your kids are old enough, brainstorm a few ideas of ways they can work to earn a little money. A lawn mowing business, taking out the neighborhoods trash, baked goods…
- Go to garage sales– give each kid a couple dollars and have fun searching around garage sales for a few treasures. This could even be part of your little business. We often find things to resell when we are hunting around garage sales.
- Visit a new town– take a little drive and explore a nearby town.
- Support a local business– visit a small business to shop, eat, or for the service they provide.
- Invite someone over for dinner– call up a family member, friend, or invite someone new over and share a meal together. Get the kids to help make the meal as well.
- Play with friends– spend time playing with friends.
- Have an outdoor movie night– set up a screen outside or go to a local drive in for an outdoor movie. Don’t forget the snacks!
- Have a water balloon fight– fill up balloons and have fun!
- Make s’mores– s’mores are always fun. Try out a few new combinations, like different flavored marshmallows, adding caramel or sprinkles, or anything else that might make something yummy, even yummier.
- Go camping– spend a night or two camping. If you don’t want to go far or are worried how the night might go, start with the backyard. Here’s a list of my must haves when camping with kids.
- Make a bird feeder– add a little peanut butter and birdseed to a pine cone to hang in a tree.
- Play dress up– you don’t have to have anything fancy. Let your kids find a few things in your closet or get out hats and other items and get creative.
- Make ice cream– ice cream is actually very easy to make even without an ice cream maker. Take a look at this simple recipe.
- Play in the sprinklers– turn on the sprinklers and watch how long the kids are entertained!
- Wash the car– nothing is better than a bunch of buckets with soap to a kid. It is not hard to convince them to help wash the car and you can probably get them pretty clean in the process.
- Make and play some yard games– there are so many great games you can make or just get out a ball and play catch.
- Color– coloring has been proven to be relaxing for both adults and kids, so color together often.
- Paint a mural– paint a big picture together. You can use wood, a large piece of paper, or even an old sheet.
- Film your own movie or act out a play– come up with a story and have fun acting it out together. Use a phone, computer, iPad, or video camera to create a fun family movie.
- Play board games– board games are fun and can have major educational benefits. These are my favorite classic games for kids.
- Jump rope– get a few jump ropes and enjoy the exercise you will get from a half an hour of jumping rope with the kids.
- Get some exercise– create a little exercise circuit the whole family can participate in.
- Go for a hike– find a family friendly hike near you and go for a little family adventure.
- Read– lay out the pillows and blankets, get lots of books out and spend the afternoon reading. Want access to over 20,000 amazing kids ebooks? Get your free 30 day trial of Epic today. Your kids will love it!
- Visit a farmers market– visit a farmers market near you to pick up some yummy produce and look around and the local vendors.
I hope you can use this list to start living out your days intentionally with your family. Don’t forget to download the checklist by signing up below. I worked hard to think of activities that would make lasting memories for your family as well as be affordable (or free) and easy. Life doesn’t have to speed by. Live each day the way you want and slow down to enjoy it.
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