Oct 13, 2020
Young children know how to have fun. Watch a toddler or a preschooler for any length of time, and you’ll see them having a great time with the most simple, sometimes innocuous things: a puddle of water, a butterfly or even a single cookie. It’s the same way with activities. They’ll do them over and over again and be excited every time. They don’t need the latest or newest thrill. They find joy in the smallest of pleasures.
The trick for adults is to remember how to enjoy life as our preschoolers do. Here are some simple activities you can do with your preschooler that will ignite joy in you both. Infectious.
For adults, chores are something to avoid. For a preschooler, these tasks are an adventure. Play the sock matching game with your toddler. Spill the box of unmatched socks you’ve been saving onto a table or rug and ask him to match as many as you can. If you have more than one child, turn it into a competition. Let her help you with laundry by pouring in the soap or sorting the clothes. Let him dust, help with dishes or garden. When it’s time to clean up, put on her favorite music and do the thirty-second “tidy”.
A walk isn’t just a way to get from Point A to Point B. Slow things down. Take some time to observe what you see, hear, smell and taste. Let your child dictate direction and speed. Pick flowers or watch the geese flying. Walk under a bridge or through a tunnel and let her hear the echo of her own voice. Collect some rocks or, if you’re feeling really brave, try rolling down a hill. The point is to truly experience the world you encounter on your walk. Breathe some fresh air and enjoy it.
Being spontaneous takes a bit of work, especially when we have so many serious things weighing us down. Preschoolers are naturally spontaneous, and their silliness can be infectious. But their joy is even more profound when you do something unexpected. Start a pillow fight. Jump on a bed. Play an impromptu game of hide and seek or go outside and play tag. If your children are fighting over a toy, steal it away and make them come and get it from you. Play dress-up. Allow her to dress in your clothes or wear your shoes and find something equally funny to wear.
As the people most likely to have to clean up a mess, adults tend to avoid them whenever possible. But letting go and making a bit of a mess once in a while is extremely cathartic. And your preschooler will love it. Create a fort in your living room out of blankets, pillows or cardboard boxes. Build an obstacle course on your front lawn and then challenge your preschooler to a race. Make playdough or finger paint together and then create something together. Make mud pies or put on your rubber boots and play in the rain with your child.
If you’re worried, plan to make a game of the post fun cleanup too.
Write a story together or better yet, start an oral narrative. Start with the first line of the story and then let your child say the next line and continue until someone says an ending or you both dissolve in laughter. Paint or draw a picture with your child. Build a town together with blocks or Lego or decorate the house for a special occasion. Bake or cook together. Perform a play with shadow puppets.
Literally, get down to your preschooler’s level. Things look a lot different whether you’re just a few feet shorter or when you’re lying flat on the grass. You’ll notice things that you haven’t seen in years. And your preschooler will love it.
We spend a lot of time as parents forcing our children into our world of deadlines and responsibilities. We can learn a lot, and have a lot of fun if we try immersing ourselves in their world for a bit.