Getting both of my children out of the house is one battle I never thought I would have to fight. It is harder than it looks when one child just decides he is not ready to go anywhere. Elana Gartner has some great ideas on how to motivate the little rascals to get a move on!
Ah! Spring has finally decided to arrive. The sun is out for more than fifteen seconds and the thermometer has graced us by hovering between 60 and 80 degrees. So why do our children insist on staying inside?! It’s not only mind-boggling but it’s incredibly frustrating. Don’t they want that Vitamin D we’ve been craving during these cold, cold months?
I’ve resorted to a few methods of kicking my children out of the house:
1) Create a playdate…somewhere outside: the zoo, the playground, the park, Coney Island, anywhere outside. Kids love seeing their friends; it might be more important to see their friends than in refusing you.
2) Create an adventure of their choosing with no destination in mind. You might name the adventure after the child (ie. “A Tom Adventure”) Go outside and give them the choice of going left or right at every corner. (this particularly works with younger kids) This switches the control to them but still gets you outside.
3) A surprisingly effective tactic is a treasure hunt. A treasure is not necessarily needed; sometimes the joy of finishing it is great. Write out clues that the child needs to figure out that might take them from place to place around their neighborhood (ie. “A place we go to get something sweet and cold to eat” or “The place we go to get new toothbrushes”). Adjust the distance of each clue from each other based on your child’s comfort with walking. You can keep the clues in your pocket and produce them as you go along. Depending on the age of your child, you can judge how many clues you should have.
4) Another winner in our house was a scavenger hunt which we translated slightly differently from the traditional definition. We made a list of things for our kids to find like 2 airplanes, 6 red cars, 7 addresses with a 3 in them, etc. These can take a while and you will need to be creative. Make them easy enough that the kids can find the things on the list, though (and don’t forget to bring a pen to mark things off). One time, we returned home having not found a double-decker bus even after trolling Flatbush Avenue.
5) An easy go-to is to do errands. Younger kids want to be helpful most of the time and running errands can be fun for them. Our kids like to hold the list and the receipt afterwards. If you’re truly savvy, you might pick a store that’s far enough away that they are out in the sun for a while.
6) If your child is an artist, sidewalk chalk can be appealing. You don’t need to go too far from home and you might even be able to decorate the outside of it.
7) Anything with wheels becomes your friend: scooters, bicycles, tricycles, little strollers, wagons, little cars, skateboards, rolling anything. Your apartment or house is unlikely to be able to accommodate such an item for a long period of time but those sidewalks or the park will do quite nicely.
8) Sports are a big part of outside fun. If your child has ever shown an interest in watching a sport, this is a good time to teach it to them. There are lots of parks all over Brooklyn and, of course, Prospect Park right in the middle. Soccer, baseball, basketball (some playgrounds have hoops nearby), or frisbee are excellent things to use the parks for. For those interested in gymnastics, the park can be good for that, too; just find a flat grassy area. There are also the paddle boats on the pond.
9) Many TV shows or schools encourage kids to learn about science. Capitalize on this as much as possible by going for nature walks. Lest you think Brooklyn is devoid of these, Prospect Park has little nature trails where kids can see brooks, trees, ducks and swans. At the Aviary, there is a little boat ride that you can take after you have appeased their reluctance to be outside by looking at the exhibits inside. (and nearby is both the zoo and the carousel. The carousel doesn’t have a lot to do with nature but it’s fun)
10) Take them somewhere they’ve never been. If they’re bored of the stuff that you usually go to, try another borough or check out listings of what’s going on over the weekend locally. Maybe there’s a cool outdoor concert or a street fair that they’ve never been to.
Enjoy FINALLY getting out with your kids!
Elana Gartner is a freelance writer and an award-winning playwright. Other articles of hers can be found at Kveller.com, and Park Slope Stoop. She founded the EMG Playwriting Workshop which fosters a supportive community for NYC playwrights. More about her playwriting is available at:http://www.elanagartner.com and www.mom365.com. Elana lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband, son and daughter.