It was easy to make babies, toddlers and even preschoolers smile their biggest smile. A simple peek-a-boo can have your baby laughing away for 10 minutes. Chasing bubbles can make a toddler squeal their happiest sounds. A family ride on the top deck of a double-decked bus can have your preschoolers excited for the whole 20 minute-ride. But these things hardly bring out the biggest smiles on our 7 and 5-year-olds now. They claim that everything is boring and that only the iPad can make them happy. Well, sorry boys, that’s not going to happen. You only get a limited amount of screen time each week. So you’re gonna have to learn to enjoy life without the iPad! I survived mine when I was younger!
Nonetheless, there are still so many things that could bring out that biggest smile you’ve been missing. Here are some of my favourites:
- Let them run in the rain. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen Oliver’s biggest smiles on the days I let him run freely in the rain. My tummy does some butterflies whenever I see that level of contentment on his face. It’s just priceless. Running in the rain gives them a sense of freedom and a chance to release any tension they might have. Water helps to reduce anxiety and calms a person down. So let them run, let them get wet. Allow them to let loose. Just make sure they have a non-slip pair of sandals on and that there are no possibilities of falling branches in the vicinity.
- Make slime together. Nothing makes kids more excited than being able to make their own toy! They love knowing that they can make something found in the toy shops. It’s like they have special abilities! Even my dear Oliver who has a slight tactile hyper-sensitivity enjoys slime. Whew!
- Family movie nights. In my 8 years of parenting, I haven’t come across any child that does not like looking at the screen. So of course, when we proposed a movie night, our 3 boys jumped in pure excitement! I love that feeling when you know your kids are happy with your suggestions. Our movie nights are right in our own family room in the comfort of our own cosy sofa seats. You don’t have to make a trip to the cinema, but you can do it once in a while.
- Favourite Characters In Town. Keep a look out at your local malls for any visits by Paw Patrol, PJ Masks, Peppa Pig or Barney, etc. They would be over the moon to get to meet their favourite characters. It might be equivalent to us getting to meet Meryl Streep. You get what I mean.
- Play chase. I have to admit that joining my children in their games of chase or hide and seek and soccer takes a lot from me. I would rather be seated with my book. But every time I want to say “no”, the images of those happy smiles while I chase them and the memory of the sounds of the happy squeals when they try to run away from me tell me that it’s going to be worth it. Get in the game. Don’t just sit at the bench. Join them when they play with other children at the playground. You have no idea how proud they feel when their friends say to them “your parents are so cool!”.
- Get an indoor swing. Our occupational therapist said that swinging helps calm the mind, especially for children with sensory processing disorder. Well, after that session, we went to IKEA and got our very first indoor swing! For those of us who live in an apartment or simply do not have that big of a yard space, an indoor swing is the perfect solution. They can swing as they switch between different activities inside the home. They do not have to wait for “playground time” or “backyard time” to get to enjoy the benefits of swinging.
- Surprise them with puddle-ready sandals or boots. Last week I did something I had never done before. It was a rainy day, I picked up my children from school with their Crocs sandals ready in hand for them to change into. They put on their raincoats and was allowed to run wild and jump in all the puddles on the way home. Those smile and giggles were priceless.
- Art and craft. I realise that ever since Edward goes to Primary 1, he craves for more art and craft activities at home. I suspect it’s because he has less art and craft in school than he used to have in K2. So I try my best to give them one art and craft slot per week to let them express their creativity.
- Say “yes” to playdates. Edward is going to have his first playdate with his Primary 1 classmates tomorrow and he’s so excited! Even Oliver is excited too because he knows them as well. They plan to play badminton and some other games. Imagine if I had said no, what would they have missed out?
- Play their games. We all love it if our partner joins us in our favourite activity. I love it when my husband accompanies me to the museum and he loves it when I accompany him to an Apple shop. Ha! Children also crave for parents to participate in activities that they like. Right now Edward and Oliver are into Pokemon cards. Until today I still do not understand what is so fun about playing Pokemon cards but I play with them anyway and it makes them feel loved when we play what they like. What do your kids like? Play with them, they’ll love it!