Sunday, July 23, 2006

13 little things every parent should do with their little ones

The hot weather has continued out West -- as it has everywhere else -- but yesterday was bad for the elderly and children -- reaching 112 in Porterville and 114 in Terra Bella, five miles south of Porterville. We experienced brownouts and short blackouts through the day so I kept my computers off for most of the day.

But, following up on the Thursday 13 thing that I read about on Kelly's blog -- I'll go ahead and post on 13 little things (most of them free) that every parent should do with their little ones.

Little ones grow up too fast. I have done all of these with my children and was always suprised to hear from my nephews and nieces that they never had done some of these things with their parents when they were little.

13 little things every parent should do with their children - in no particular order

1. Make a sand castle (or snow sculpture)
2. Bake a cake (or cookies, etc.)
3. Take your 5-year-old (younger if you think they can handle it) child to a very fancy restaurant for lunch. Before leaving, explain about all the silverware and how to place the napkin, etc. Practice at your own table at home. The child will feel extra special being there. If cost is too much, go out only for dessert. Take one child at a time for some personal one-on-one time.
4. Play charades with your child. (Disney movies work great)
5. Make sock puppets together and then invite the family or neighbors to a sock puppet show
6. play on the swing sets at a park together (not just push, but you get on too)
7. dance together - everything from silly dances to disco, swing, the twist and salsa
8. camp in the backyard - tent, sleeping bags (sorry, we used air mattresses under them) and smores.
9. hugs - lots and lots of them
10. read to them - every day (can't stress this enough - it is so important)
11. buy them a special ornament every Christmas. When they grow up, they'll have a collection to start their tree with. I started this when my girls were born. (A ballerina when they were in dance, a softball player ornament when one started playing. Whatever they loved or did that year, I'd find the perfect ornament. I'd start shopping as soon as they were out in stores, sometimes running into the perfect one in the summer at specialty stores, but I always know when I come across the perfect one for the year.) The best ones were not the expensive boxed ones - many of mine are from International World Market (love that store)
While in New York, I kept looking for one to buy and hide for my daughter who went with me, but I never saw any. But anyway, kids will treasure them and each one will have a year of memories to go with it.
12. Speaking of Christmas, go shopping togeher for a less fortunate child. We live in the Historical District, which means - it is next to the poorest (and highest crime) side of town, so it is easy to find a family every year (they move in and out next door) to semi adopt at Christmas. Depending on how poor they are, we have bought them a tree, lights and ornaments, or sometimes will just buy a special gift for the children. My girls love going shopping for others.
One year we did not know the family very long but we sneaked onto the porch early in the morning and left gifts for the children and a box of food. We knocked on the door and ran away.
Later, the mom came over, with tears, thanking us. She said she had no idea what she was going to tell the kids (recent divorcee and totally broke) and she said it was probably the best Christmas they'd had in a long time.
13. Don't let a single day go by without saying "I love you" to them.

Remember, you reap what you sow.


  1. Excellent post! 13 Excellent examples of parenting and asset-building. Love it!

  2. What a lovely post, Esther. Tells a lot about the kind of mother and person you are. Lucky to have you as a friend :)

  3. Anonymous10:16 AM

    It's good to be reminded once in a while. :)

  4. Beautiful post! I will keep this in mind when I have kids!

  5. Very nice post, Esther. A great reminder of what is really important. :)

  6. thank you, everyone. And Dama, or anyone else who may not have little ones of your own yet -- don't forget little brothers, sisters or nephews and nieces. Your post reminded me again of some little ones in my extended family. (my nieces' two children --- she's a young widow and the children need more attention than she provides)