As parents we are all looking for ways to keep our children busy. As single parents the evenings are short and there is so much to do, we need something to occupy the kids so we don’t feel quite so guilty for working on the report for work or doing another three loads of laundry and scrubbing the bathroom.
Unfortunately, for most of us, the easiest entertainers are electronic. We plop the kids in front of a movie or allow them some extra video game time so we can get done what we need to do. I’m not saying that all television and video games are bad but they do come with a price. Our children have forgotten how to entertain themselves and they are losing their creativity.
Recently I babysat for another single mother while she had surgery. She has three kids, two boys and a girl, ages 3,6, and 10. I was nervous because I don’t have cable television and I don’t own a video game system. What was I going to do with these children who were used to electronic entertainment?
Initially, we were all a little bored, I don’t know what to do with them and they didn’t know how to entertain themselves in my home. Then I gave them some sheets and blankets, told them to build a fort. When they were done I gave them peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, a few flashlights and sent them to play in their fort. They giggled and wrestled, rebuilt the fort so it had more rooms, used pillows for furniture and all in all, had a great time.
I started thinking about what I did as a kid. We were allowed very limited television, Saturday morning cartoons and maybe a Sunday night movie, that was it. The television wasn’t for us, it was for our parents, we were to play outside.
I broke out magazines and paint and glue and beads and they made collages. I showed them how to fold the magazine pages into pretty flowers or roll them into beads.
Yes it was messy. There was paint on the table and beads and scraps of paper on the floor but the kids had a blast. The best part of it all, especially for a single parent, it was all basically free, and kid powered so the batteries never died.