10 Helpful Tips to Manage Single Parenting

According to the Pew Research Center’s American Community Survey in December 2014, just 46% of American children now live in a home with two married parents in their first marriage. Conversely, in 1960, 73% of children existed in the traditional “nuclear” family. If your family is embarking on single parenthood, know that neither you nor your children will be alone. Divorce and births to unwed parents have lost the negative stigma that once made falling into these categories so hard. When you invest in your child and in your parenting education (as you are by reading this), outcomes improve for all family members. 

Still, juggling the many responsibilities that come with being a single parent in this era of “over-parenting” and “helicopter parenting” can be daunting. We hope these tips help make single parenthood manageable–even joyful!

Use a Sharable Online or Mobile App Calendar to Communicate With Your Ex

Newly divorced parents report that talking to the ex-spouse challenges them more than most other aspects of the divorce. With children’s schedules these days packed with doctors’ appointments, sports, playdates, and family events, cutting the other parent out of your life entirely is impossible. The tech savvy already know to create a separate Google calendar with only the children’s dates on it, but developers have created more user-friendly calendars that solve additional co-parenting difficulties. CoParently, for example, comes with the calendar, but also easy places to share:

  • medical contacts and information
  • other parent contacts
  • communication
  • expenses
  • important documents
  • photos

Similar scheduling tools include: 2Houses, CoFamilies and OurFamilyWizard. CoParently charges around $10 per month or $99 per year. The free ones subject users to advertisements.

Kill the Guilt

Because overwhelming guilt diminishes parenting skills, parents must get it under control.

While many couples endure conflict-ridden or unsatisfying marriages for the sake of the children, universities and religious and governmental organizations continue to come out with studies revealing that most children in a divorce situation do NOT suffer long-term effects directly related to divorce. An American Psychological Association review of scores of individual studies on the effects of divorce on children concluded, “Research indicates that marital conflict rather than divorce or post-divorce conflict is a more important predictor of child adjustment.” Some researchers speculate that any maladjustment adult children of divorce exhibit may not stem from the divorce itself but from the manner in which parents behave after the divorce. Involved parents who invest time and energy into their children and co-parent effectively reap the rewards of happier, well-adjusted kids.

Embrace Your Right to Discipline

Kill the single parent guilt so you can discipline effectively. Studies indicate that single parents have a harder time disciplining due to time limitations and the desire to have positive interactions. But the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Academy of Pediatrics, along with every doctor and psychologist you meet, explains that children need, want, and even crave discipline. The APA’s review of the literature above explains, “Appropriate parenting includes providing emotional support, monitoring children’s activities, disciplining authoritatively, and maintaining age-appropriate expectations.” Establishing limits and then enforcing reasonable consequences when children cross limits reassures them that you care enough to keep them from spinning out of control.

Establish Chores

Establishing chores not only asserts your authority, it provides children a sense of meaning and contribution as they work with you and siblings on a project larger than themselves–the family. And even without two parents, make it clear that you ARE a family. Creating a chore sheet where they can pick which tasks they prefer gives them a sense of some control. Still, you can make it fun. Consider having a day or afternoon where you all do household chores together to music with a movie reward at the end. Keep in mind, too, that children who’ve just recently lost a parent due to death or divorce will struggle with anger and upset that could emerge when chore time rolls around. Hold your ground, treating their inevitable chore-resisting complaints as expected noise.

Smart Cooking for the Single Parent

We get it: you get home at 6:00 (or later) with homework, baths, dinner and dishes still ahead.

Single parents who embrace the raw food and slow food movements may find dinnertime easier. Doctors and nutritionists applaud parents who serve simple baby carrots or celery. Prep? Open bag. Wash. Throw on dish. Fruit makes an excellent side dish as well and takes very little prep. Buy small resealable containers to keep individual portions of ranch dressing, poppy seed dressing, Nutella, and peanut butter at the ready for children who like dipping their fruits and vegetables.

Fresh, raw foods create shortcuts, but so do a few select healthy food gadgets. The crock pot, smoothie blender, and outdoor or indoor grill all get lots done with limited hassle. Finally, when it comes to main dishes, some busy parents double the recipe of meals they make, saving half for leftovers later in the week. Others marinate and cook large portions of steak or chicken on weekends and then serve it throughout the week.

Build Your Back-Up Team

As self-sufficient as Americans like to view themselves, the results are in: social connections translate into better physical and emotional health. As a single parent, you will need a team, each member of which contributes in a special way.

  • Babysitter: The first backup you need, particularly if you’re working, is a babysitter. While, SitterCity, and other online sources deliver scores of options in your neighborhood, finding babysitters through your church, friends, and neighbors works, too. Still, when these people are not available and you have a sick child, you can also depend on sick child daycare. While there isn’t one website listing these services, your pediatrician may know of special daycares that specialize in caring for sick children. 
  • Parent Network: Stock the refrigerator, roll out the slip-and-slide, and be ready with  playdate offers. Taking initiative will prompt other parents to reciprocate. A group of parent friends supports, informs, and entertains you as well as your child. Creating a dedicated “black book” or contact list of parents keeps phone numbers and emails handy.
  • Teachers and other school staff: Your tax dollars pay for an amazing amount of education and even emotional support for you and your child. If you have any concerns, you are entitled to have a meeting with the school psychologist, the teacher, the resource teacher, and even the vice principal. These professionals can help you gauge how your child is reacting to the changes in your household. They relate how he or she behaves in class and recommends appropriate strategies and solutions.
  • Religious or spiritual backup:  Churches, synagogues and spiritual centers have all kinds of kids’ activities; they may even have quality daycare! Sunday school provides you an hour away from constant demands, giving you time to listen to an inspiring message while your children meet new friends and have fun. These centers also organize great holiday events and activities so that you don’t have to feel alone and disconnected.
  • Parenting experts: Having a therapist or parenting support specialist from your local hospital or church on call feels reassuring. Locally, San Diego Dads Corps provides free counseling services to fathers once a week for 12 weeks, classes, and more. Read how involved dads bring benefits to their children’s lives that no other individual can bring and other proven truths about fatherhood. 

Carve Out Regular Rejuvenation Time

Caregivers get stressed. Time alone to relax and focus on your own needs and interests renews your energy and mood. Health clubs, churches, and parent events offering child care help parents take a break from constant responsibility. Single parent expert and author Leah Klungness, PhD, recommends that once your children are beyond the toddler stage, they’re ready to be trained to leave you alone for three to five minutes at a time. During that time you can do some deep breathing exercises, return phone calls, or take a shower. Need a little push to take care of yourself? Try this article: “I’m Done Making My Children’s Childhoods Magical,” which went viral last year.  

Manage Your Money with Apps

Apps like the free Mint from Intuit (maker of QuickBooks), GoodBudget, and PocketExpense all track your spending, keep you on top of your bills, and provide more than you could ever need. As apps on your phone or tablet, they’re always handy and users claim that they can even feel addictive. Getting control of your cash flow reduces a significant portion of single parent stress.

Devote 20 Minutes to an Hour Each Day Focusing Solely on Your Children

Think of this time as vitamins for your relationships, keeping them healthy and preventing any number of conflicts, surprises, and disappointments. Those who find themselves relentlessly driven to accomplish things every moment rather than just being present for a period of time should consider mindfulness and meditation training. Mindfulness practice helps people concentrate their focus on the present moment, holding off bad memories and suspending worry about the future. The University of San Diego’s Center for Mindfulness and Meditation offers introductory sessions that can get you started. Interested in what mindfulness and meditation can do for your brain? Read Harvard researchers’ recent amazing conclusions from their eight-week study using MRI technology. This research from December 2014 received widespread news coverage.

Model a Positive Outlook for the Future

Compared to you, your children are newcomers to life. They look to you to gauge the potential danger or benefits of new situations. Make it clear from the beginning that while life is changing, all of you have the skills to manage these changes and even grow through them. Demonstrate your confidence in their resilience and coping skills. While tears and anger arise from time to time, these do not have to become the norm.

You and Your Children Can Succeed and Thrive

Divorce or the death of a spouse stands at the very top of the life stresses list. Still, research reveals that one year after the divorce, most ex-spouses and their children are coping adequately. The tips above help set your new life on the right track. Remember to rely on friends, family, and professionals who want to help you through this difficult time. Keep behavior and energy expectations for yourself, your ex-spouse, and your children reasonable and remember that both will even out with time. 

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Father Figures: Demographics of Single Fathers in the U.S [INFOGRAPHIC]

Single fatherhood is on the rise in the U.S. Let’s take a dive into learning more about who these dads are in this infographic.

1412 graphic fathers rights stats about single fathers v3 Father Figures: Demographics of Single Fathers in the U.S [INFOGRAPHIC]

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Avoid Coddling: How to Set Your Kids Up to Face Life’s Challenges

With the role of parent comes the inclination to fix things. When our babies cry, we look for a solution with a warm bottle or a dry diaper. As our kids grow and start to become more independent, we sometimes hold on to the idea of “fixing” everything, of stepping in and protecting them from any discomfort life might serve our children.

But fixing everything for our kids can actually be harmful, and too much coddling can rob children of the joy of personal accomplishment and developing their own work ethic.

Here are a few ways to avoid coddling your children into a dysfunctional adult life, but still remain an involved 22194 640 Avoid Coddling: How to Set Your Kids Up to Face Lifes Challenges

Assign chores. Some families like to add a dollar amount to completed chores as a way to teach about economics and real-world earnings, and this is perfectly fine. But you might want to consider having some chores that offer no monetary compensation after a job well done. These chores should involve personal responsibility, like putting away their own laundry or clearing their own spot from the dinner table. Let your kids know that you will not do everything for them—not now, and not when they are grown.

Allow failure. This is perhaps the toughest thing for a parent to do, but it’s important that kids do not always succeed—or that when they do, it is because of their own hard work. It’s okay to step in and help with difficult homework or to help practice for a sport, but do not step in and try to make it easier for your child. When they fail at something, make it teachable moment and encourage them to try again. Remind them that failure only occurs when you give up, and sometimes reaching a goal takes several attempts.

Foster independence. Find safe ways for your kids to exercise some of their own freedom. When your child is a toddler or in lower elementary school, consider sending them to structured classes where parents are not present. As they get a little older, let them walk ahead of you on the way home from school or go to an overnight camp. Find ways for your kids to make their own choices without you looking over their shoulders. If they make a bad choice, you’ll be there to talk them through it and help them learn from it.

Set limits. Implement a bed time. Put a time limit on electronic time. Ban phones and tablets from the dinner table. Talk about behavior expectations when your kids are at school or friends’ houses. Let your kids know what you expect of them and give them a chance to make you proud.


What are some tips you have for building confidence in your kids?


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Rad Dads: Single Fatherhood in America [INFOGRAPHIC]

The makeup of a household has changed a lot since 1960, when 92% of them were headed by two married parents. That figure is decreasing, but the number of homes with single dads is on the rise. In this infographic we will explore what it means to be a single dad in America and how to address the challenges of single parenting.


1410 infographic fathers rights single fatherhood Rad Dads: Single Fatherhood in America [INFOGRAPHIC]


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7 Tips for Raising a Well-Rounded Son

Raising a son to be thoughtful, caring, and inquisitive is a challenge for anyone, especially with so many societal pressures and a changing perception of what “being a man” even means. Let’s sweep that off the table and look at how you can raise a well-rounded son. Following these simple tips can help give you traits of a great dad.

1. Let him show his emotions.

Even in the modern day, boys are expected to stifle their tears, to grit their teeth and smile through the pain. As long as he isn’t being destructive, acting out, or presenting a danger to himself or others, let your son express his emotions, whether it’s from watching a sad movie or experiencing a great loss.

Once the tears stop, you can talk to him about his feelings and why he felt them. From there you can label the emotion—sad, angry, disappointed, hurt. Help him understand that all of these emotions are valid.

2. Offer plenty of physical affection.

Boys need just as much physical contact as girls. Hugs, cuddles, and kisses will help your son feel safe, secure, and loved. As they get older, they may shy away from physical affection, especially when they’re around friends, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop altogether or that they don’t want that affection. Sneak in a quick hug when no one is looking or give them a shoulder squeeze when you’re working together in the kitchen.

3. Encourage his interests.

Whether he wants to dance, skateboard, cook, paint, or play basketball, encourage and support his interests. You’ll instill a strong sense of self, which will build his confidence and self-esteem.

4. Don’t quell his energy.

Most little boys are bundles of energy. That energy can get pent up if he doesn’t have the opportunity to run, explore, and play. Just make sure he understands that there is a right time and place to expend his energy. Remind him that the dinner table and the classroom are places where he might want to pullback.

5. …but don’t worry if he’s not energetic.

We’re all prone to our moments of quiet solitude. If he wants to spend time inside drawing, reading, or imagining, don’t force him to go outside. These moments of introspection are just as important to his development. Ask him if he’s feeling well, and if he appears to be doing fine emotionally or otherwise, leave him to his own devices. He’ll be running, hooting, and hollering in no time.

6. Read often.

6475675533 2a02d51f9e z 300x200 7 Tips for Raising a Well Rounded SonYou can never start reading to your son too early. Reading to a preschooler encourages reading skills and language development and opens up whole new worlds for imagination, creative thinking, and problem solving.

7. Don’t worry about him being “masculine enough.”

People often describe masculinity with words like strength, courage, and independence. There are countless women who exhibit those same traits and plenty of men who don’t, so don’t worry about your son being masculine enough. Let him be himself. You will find that he is definitely enough. 


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5 Great Dads from History (And What You Can Learn from Them)

5 Great Dads from History (And What You Can Learn from Them)

History is filled with fantastic fathers who have not only kept their kids out of harm, but also gave them the room to grow and flourish as individuals. Fatherhood doesn’t come with an instruction manual, but a look through the history books can provide a wealth of information. Let’s take a look at the traits of great dads from history and what you can learn from them.

1. Li Yanwen

Li Yanwen was a Chinese doctor who lived around 1500 A.D. His son was Li Shizhen, another doctor who would become the greatest Chinese naturalist. But Li Yanwen originally wanted his son to go into the government. However, Li Shizhen was more interested in medicine than state bureaucracy—in fact, he failed the civil service exams three times.

Li Yanwen eventually gave in and mentored his son in Chinese medicine, and it’s a good thing he did. Li Shizhen went on to author the Bencao Gangmu, a medical text that featured extensive details about over 1,800 herbal drugs and their prescriptions. The text has been translated into countless languages and remains the foremost reference for herbal medicine.

The Takeaway: Support your kids’ passions, even if they don’t line up with what you want for them.

2. Charles Darwin

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The father of evolutionary theory was also a great dad to 10 of his own kids. He was a 

doting father who had an integral role in raising and educating his kids. He was active in his children’s lives, encouraging their freedom and raising them at a time when childrearing was considered “women’s work.”

The Takeaway: Be actively involved in your kids’ lives.

3. Charlemagne

King of the Franks, Emperor of the Romans, Charlemagne had a whopping 20 children, but he made sure all received a thorough education, regardless of gender or social stature. Charlemagne treated his son, Pepin the Hunchback (named for a spinal deformity), with great love and care.

When he wasn’t chosen to be his father’s successor, Pepin plotted Charlemagne’s assassination. The plot was exposed, but instead of ordering Pepin’s execution, Charlemagne took pity and sent him to a monastery to live out the rest of his days.

The Takeaway: Love your kids for their similarities, but love them even more for their differences.

4. Lieutenant-Colonel George Lucas

Lieutenant-Colonel George Lucas had a daughter named Eliza Lucas (later known as Eliza Lucas Pinckney). He recognized early on that his daughter was special. Instead of forcing onto her the mediocre schooling that upper-class British girls received at the time, Lucas ensured that she gained a real education.

The Lucas family eventually moved to South Carolina from Antigua. By the age of 16, Eliza was running the family’s three plantations. George, who had to return to Antigua, sent his daughter seeds to test in the South Carolina land. Through much trial and error, Eliza successfully grew indigo, launching a successful cash crop that was second only to rice.

The Takeaway: Sometimes, the best thing you can do is step aside and let your kids experiment and recognize their own greatness, but remember to always be there when they need help.

5. Jim Henson

Jim Henson created the Muppets and Sesame Street, so it’s hard to imagine him as anything but playful, fun, and positive. Henson was a loving, supportive father, who, above all, was always ready to play with his kids. The only complaint that his kids had was his long work hours, which they got around by joining the family business.

The Takeaway: You’re never too old to have a great time with your kids.

There are no hard and fast rules to being a dad, so don’t worry if you don’t perfectly line up with history’s great dads. All you need to make sure to do is love your kids, provide wise advice, and always be ready with a well of groan-worthy “dad jokes.”




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4 Fun Fall Activities for You and Your Kids

4 Fun Fall Activities for You and Your Kids

The leaves are changing colors and piling in your backyard. School has started. Sweaters and pants are replacing t-shirts and shorts. Fall is here, but that doesn’t mean the fun has to end. Let’s take a look at some fun activities you can enjoy with your kids this autumn.

1. Have fun with leaves.

The leaves are the highlight of the season, but they also provide plenty of opportunities for fun.

  • Arts & crafts – Make a leaf collage or mosaic. String some leaves up and hang them across your window. Take some scenic pictures of the trees around your neighborhood and create a scrapbook.
  • Start a collection – Try to find as many different leaves and colors as you can. Compare the shapes and colors of the leaves in your collection and see how many different varieties you can collect.
  • Rake them up – Rake up the leaves in your yard and teach your kids the simple joy of jumping in a pile of leaves.

2. Go camping.

Fall is all about nature and enjoying the outdoors. If you live in a more temperate climate or urban setting, you may not have immediate access to the changing leaves, but never fear: the outdoors is but a state park away. Weekend camping with your kids is a great opportunity for you and your kids to unplug and get some fresh air. Remember to pack some warm sweaters, a camera, and plenty of marshmallows—no camping trip is complete without some s’mores!

3. Go apple-picking.

Autumn is apple season, so find a nearby orchard and pick yourself a whole bushel of apples. Aside from being delicious, apples offer a ton of health benefits:

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  • They are packed with dietary fiber, vitamin C, calcium, potassium, and more.
  • They have antioxidants that reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, and promote heart health, lowering the risk of coronary disease.
  • They can boost your immune system and protect your brain against neurodegenerative disorders.

Even better, apples are an incredibly versatile food. Bake them into a pie, make some homemade apple sauce, slice them into your salads, or simply enjoy them alone. No matter how you prepare apples, your kids are sure to want more.

4. Visit your local pumpkin patch.

Pumpkin patches embrace all the great things about autumn and often include corn mazes, hayrides, and more, but you can’t walk away from one without at least one pumpkin in your arms. Your kids can carve the pumpkins into Jack-o-Lanterns (with your help and supervision). Throw the seeds into the oven for a magnesium-rich snack, and use leftover pumpkin in soup, cookies, or the ever-popular pie.

This season offers plenty of surprises. Do a little exploring with your little adventurer, and you’re sure to find some great memories waiting just around the corner.


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How to Help Your Child Transition to High School

high school How to Help Your Child Transition to High School


The passage from middle school or junior high to high school can be a difficult and even scary one for your child. However, with help from dad, your child’s introduction to high school can be a happy and successful one. Here are some tips for a smooth transition into those first weeks of high school.

Before School Starts

If school hasn’t started yet, follow these back to school tips for a successful start to the school year. If it has, remember them for next year.

    • Attend any orientation or other pre-first-day event that you can. Every orientation event that you go to with your child will help acquaint both of you to the new people and places that will create your child’s school life for the next four years.
    • Set a school routine a few weeks before the start of the school year. Knowing when to get up and get ready and when to settle down and get to sleep is one thing. Actually doing it is another. Getting you and your teen into the habit before the first week of school will make those days easier and less exhausting. Also, a quiet time in late afternoon or early evening of reading will prepare your student for homework time.
    • Encourage some independence and self-responsibility. High school students have more freedom and responsibilities than ever before. Helping your child establish good habits and strong boundaries before being faced with keeping track of belongings, assignments, chores, homework, and social obligations all on her own will ensure some measure of success when the time comes.

After School Starts

Keep the momentum going with these tips after the first bell of the school year has rung.

Stay Connected

Many schools now offer parents a way to track their children’s grades online. If your school gives you this opportunity, take it. Your child may feel as though their space has been invaded, but it can alert you to problems that need to be addressed before they become serious. It can also aid you in seeing where your child needs tutoring or a less challenging course. On the flip side, you can revel in your student’s academic successes long before that report card comes home.

Talk to your child’s teachers, principal or head teacher, and coaches. Get to know them. One of the biggest complaints from most professional educators is that parents often excuse themselves from the school system. Contacting teachers, even when there’s no problem, shows that you care and that you play an active role in your kid’s life.

Make time for spending time with your child, too. Talk, play, shop, work—just be together. Your child is now a young adult, and while that means that your relationship may be changing, you are still needed and wanted, and for more than just the car keys and spending money.

Help Your Child Stay Connected

Encourage extra-curricular activities that appeal to your child and provide support for him or her to participate. Set up a study area in the home that allows your student a place to tackle that homework quietly and peacefully without interruption or distraction.

If your teen makes a special friend or two (or twenty) or finds that first “love,” set boundaries, but make every effort to make your home a welcome and safe place for the kids to hang. You’ll feel better knowing that your teen isn’t someplace he perhaps shouldn’t be, and you’ll also get an idea of the kinds of peers your child is spending time with and what they are doing with that time.

 One of the biggest and most important ways you can help your child through the change from middle school to high school is just to be there. Let him or her know that, despite this newfound young adulthood, dad is still in the picture and will be there for the issues, concerns, and yes, the good stuff too. High school needn’t be the end of the good times, or even the end of childhood. Help make it the fun and happy time it should be!



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Dads: 3 Ways to Help Your Teen Daughter Through Tough Times

Although dads and daughters should be bonding at every age, the teenage years can be the most tumultuous for parents and their kids alike. As children start to bridge their childhood years into adulthood, it can be a confusing, difficult, and emotional time. When it comes to dads, daughters may seem downright impossible to communicate with or understand during the teenage years. But this is the time when “little” girls need their fathers the most, so don’t give up on her. 

father and daughter Dads: 3 Ways to Help Your Teen Daughter Through Tough Times

Take a look at a few simple ways to reach out and help your daughter get through the tough times of teenaged life.

Be a constant presence. No, you shouldn’t go with her on her dates or show up randomly when she is hanging out with her friends. Technology has made it easier than ever to let her know that you are thinking of her, even when you aren’t there in person. Send text messages and emails, and even goofy selfies to keep her smiling. Let her know you are always just a text or call away and that you are always thinking of her.

Share your stories. It may seem like an ancient history to you, but relating your own struggles as a teen and young adult may ease some of her own anxieties. Talk about the times you faced challenges, or made poor decisions, and how you picked up and kept on going. Emphasize that things that seem like a big deal in the moment will not matter down the road. Even if she rolls her eyes at your outdated stories and assures you that you can’t possibly understand, tell her anyway. It may make more of an impact than she is willing to share with you.

Step in when it’s warranted. Part of growing up is making your decisions, but occasionally teens need their parents to back them up. If your daughter is fighting a battle that seems to be over her head, step in and help her through it. This may be something as simple as a difficult math class that she is too prideful to ask for help to get through, or could involve peer pressure to engage in dangerous activities. While it is important to give her room to make the right decisions on her own, remember that you are still her parent and that it is okay to intervene when needed.

What advice have you heard about dealing with teenaged daughters? Use the comments below to share your own advice or experiences to help out other dads going through the same challenges.


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6 Spur-of-the-Moment Adventures to Bond With Your Kids

Some of the most memorable parent-child adventures don’t take a lot of planning. Simple spur-of-the-moment adventures are often the ones that kids remember most!

20120906 CampingHiking IMG 7076 1024x682 6 Spur of the Moment Adventures to Bond With Your Kids

Take a look at just a few ideas for adventuring with your kids at a moment’s notice.

Go for a bike ride. It sounds simple, but hopping on your bikes and hitting a local road or trail is both exhilarating and easy. Let your kids pick the routes and then follow their lead. Be sure to stop to take in the sights along the way, from trees and lakes to buildings of interest.

Camp out. Pack up your car for a weekend camping with your kids, or just pitch a tent in your backyard. Sleeping under the stars even just 20 feet from your house will give you and your kids to a different perspective on the world and each other. Pack a flashlight to share scary stories after dark, and all the ingredients you need to make s’mores. Hint: try making s’mores with peanut butter cups instead of regular old chocolate!

Plan a scavenger hunt. Turn your home, yard, or neighborhood into one giant puzzle by giving your kids clues that lead to a treasure at the end. Depending on your kids’ ages, the end prize will vary—and it doesn’t need to be anything extravagant. The hunt itself is the adventure. It presents a fun way to show your personality and wit to your kids and teaches them work together toward an end goal.

Visit a local flea market or garage sale. Show your kids that there are plenty of cool products in the world that do not come directly from a store shelf. Give them a budget and let them peruse the items at a neighborhood garage or yard sale, or head to a flea market to see many unique items in one place. Pack a lunch, or make ordering lunch at the flea market part of the adventure. At the end of the day, everyone has a trinket to remember the adventure by.

Head to an amusement or water park. Research discounts at theme parks in your area and then surprise your kids with a day trip. Be sure you get in on the fun by hopping on the rides they like and getting wet on any slides or water attractions too. This adventure costs a little more than the others—but with the right planning, a day at an amusement park can be a reasonably priced way to surprise your kids with an in-the-moment adventure.

Sit around a bonfire. You don’t need to commit to an entire night or weekend of camping to enjoy its most cherished tradition: sitting around a campfire, sharing snacks and stories. Dig a bonfire pit in your backyard, or head to a local park or beach that allows bonfires. Roast hot dogs and marshmallows, and if anyone is musically inclined, sing songs around the campfire!

What simple adventures have been favorites in your house?


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