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Parenting Energy At Zero? Find A Jump Rope

Tonight, we sent the boys outside to burn off energy. A strong breeze nearly made up for the muggy air. They opted to clamber onto the tire swing suspended by yellow rope from a towering maple in our backyard.

I had Phoebe strapped to my chest, so to push them I simply gave them a series of forceful shoves with my sneaker. This wouldn't cut it.

"Spin push us. Faster. Hold on, I need to get off. Hold on, I need to get on. Why aren't you pushing me higher?" So it went.

My energy tank had nearly drained dry when Julie took an extra piece of rope lying nearby and turned it into a jump rope. I held the other end. The boys became fast friends with the game. In short order, they learned to jump as the rope arrives at the ground in front of your feet. They laughed as the rope snagged their ankles and black wading boots. They jockeyed to be next in line.

The moral of this story is twofold. First, marry a creative person. Second, allow yourself to find simple ways to entertain your children, especially when you'd rather curl up in bed or bury your face in a book. 

Call me an ogre, but sometimes it's tempting to give in to exhaustion by planting your children in front of technology or lashing out in an emotional fit. Neither is particularly good for them or you.

Many adults -- especially in privileged places like the U.S. where entertainment is accessible 24/7 -- seem to have a near-constant need for bigger, better, shinier activities. But don't forget you are parenting children, and for kids, the simplest activities can often be the most fun and memorable.

For example, our youngsters get a kick out of:

  • Make believe with sticks and tools from the garage*
  • Pretending to cook and take orders in the play kitchen
  • Staging a board game competition with mom or dad**
  • Playing with their sister, tugging on her arms and legs, and talking to her in squeaky voices***
*Safety goggles and hard hat are advised
**Big emotions and smack talk guaranteed
***Future revenge fully anticipated

You don't need any special skill set to create a fun environment for your children, nor do you need to spend a fortune to ensure they have the latest and greatest entertainment. 

You simply need to use your imagination, help your children see their own potential to invent new games and give them a little space to run around.

At the very least, you can look forward to falling into bed when it's all over. I know I do.

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