Go To Tricks For Entertaining Kids

kids entertained

Kids will use up all of your energy as a parent, not just physically but mentally as well. No matter how much attention you give them it is never enough. At least until they are teenagers, then they don’t want any (or so I’m told, tell you what, if this blog is still going in another 10 years or so I’ll let you know).

You can spend all day with your child playing game after game, but as soon as you try to put your feet up, they will come running.

The exception to this is nap time (for toddlers anyway). I won’t go into too much detail here as it’s a well known urban legend amoung parents that if you say the word nap too many times your child will refuse to sleep that day. Try it out if you dare.

down under dad

So how can you keep your day entertaining for you and your children? Try out the following

Common Ways to

keep your Children Entertained

  • Play some games – Simple peekaboo games, like hiding around the corner from each other will always get a laugh from a toddler, as they grow up you can change this to a hide and seek style game.
  • Play with their toys – If you are trying to get them to play with their own toys, why not play with them, show them how fun they can be. Chances are you have spent some decent money of the toys so you may as well make the most of them. Try rolling cars along with them, or building their wooden train set. They are more likely to go back to the toys later if they have enjoyed the time spent playing with them.
  • Go Outside – If your kids are anything like mine then they love being outside, sure they don’t understand that in winter they need to wear extra clothes, or in summer they need sunscreen, but they love being outdoors. Have a backyard? Great! maintain it and acquire some outdoor play equipment. Don’t have that luxury? find a nearby park.
  • Get Active with them – Not only will this clear your head but it helps to build healthy habits. Sure this is easier as they get older, but if your child is young enough to be in a pram, then take them for a walk/run. Go kick a ball around a park. Go for a bike ride. The good thing about them being active is that it will tire them out, and all parents know a tired child sleeps better then one full of energy.

kids entertained

So what happens when normal just doesn’t cut it anymore. Parents are often guilty as believing they know best. More specifically, parents whose kids are older always think they know better then those with younger kids, they call it experience.

In my almost 2 years of experience being a parent I have learnt a few tricks. Now I know this parenting gig ain’t always easy, so I’m more then happy to share them. Some might be surprising, others more obvious.

So here it is. . .

Down Under Dad’s

Trick-book for entertaining Toddlers

Disclaimer, these tricks were current at the time of writing. It doesn’t take a genius to tell you they won’t last forever. By the time you read this they might already be outdated. I also can’t be held liable if they don’t work for you. Every child is different.

  • The Wiggles – This one might be a bit outdated, but for the first 12 months of so of our child’s life he was obsessed. Whether it was books, movies, songs, or even merchandise, he would always have a smile on his face. You can imagine the look on his face when he saw them live in concert.
  • Watermelon – Yes I know its a food. If he is playing up or not eating much, Watermelon is the key! He loves it, and by just saying the name, he will instantly stop what he is doing and go to the kitchen.
  • Outside – Our son would spend all day outside if we let him. While not necessarily a bad thing, it can be tough when the weather doesn’t cooperate. However 9 times out of 10 if he is getting stir crazy inside, taking him outside will solve the problem (at least temporarily).
  • Disney Movies – At the moment its 2 in particular. ‘Moana’ and ‘Cars 3’ – both available on Netflix (thank god). The first one is played at least once daily in our house, and yes I can recite the words to most of the songs. The second was an obvious one for us. Our child is obsessed with Cars as objects, so it didn’t take much to put 2 and 2 together and show him the movies.
  • Trucks! – so this last one is related to the previous (cars and trucks both have wheels?). Its also one of those ones that almost makes you feel a little guilty as a parent. You can see the road from the front room of our house, which the occasional truck drives along. Our son loves watching these trucks, doesn’t matter what he is in the middle of, if he thinks he has heard a truck out the front then he will go to try and watch it.

 

As a reader you are probably having 1 of 2 different reactions to the above

  1. There is no way that would work with my kids – I say “fair enough”, I’ve made this list based upon my 2 year old so if your kids are of a different age they might not be effective. I also say “Have you tried?”, if you are currently raising toddlers then I encourage you to try something off my list, any change in routine can be for the better.
  2. Wow you couldn’t be anymore true – I say “thanks, but i’m only showing you what works”. A big part of parenting is trial and error, sometimes you have to try multiple options before you find one that works, and even then it won’t work forever.

 

Ultimately its up to you as a parent to find the best way to keep your kids entertained, but if you can do it successfully, the eventual outcome will look something like the below

tired child

 

What works for you? How do you keep your children entertained? Got a hot tip to add to my list? I’d love to hear it. If I get enough Ill publish a reader submitted edition.

Having the Time

A friend recently asked me how I have time as a Dad to: Be a Parent, Work Full time, visit the Gym a couple of days a week, and still have the time to Blog. While there is no simple answer, my only advice is that if you commit to it you find a way to make it happen.

If you stop for a minute and break it down honestly, you will see you have more time then you would have thought. The below list was taken from my crossfit coach (slightly adapted),

There are 168 Hours in the Week

56 Hours of that should be sleep (8×7)

40 Hours of Work (8×5, average working week)

5 Hours commuting (1 hour a day)

10 hours Eating (just under 1.5 hours a day)

10 Hours Preparing (Cooking, Toilet/Shower, etc)

3 Hours Shopping (groceries and adhoc)

14 hours being Active (2 hours a day)

30 hours a week for Family time – on top of the above (5 hours a day)

But that doesn’t work for me?

While the Above is just a guide, it will look a little different for everyone. Work a longer week then that? that’s OK, have a longer commute? that’s OK too.  The amount of time you need to allocate to weekly tasks may vary, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the time to do the things you are passionate about.

Having the Time

Make a Plan

Every day is different and we need to prioritise each day to make the most of it. You just need to make your list of priorities and make the time to get them done rather then sitting on the lounge.

Depending on whether or not you have all your ducks in a row, making a plan for the week might work, otherwise make a plan for each day. As a parent I know that even the best made plans can go haywire depending on (A) how well your child slept last night and (B) what side of the bed they woke up on. If you need to, adjust your plan on the run.

pexels-photo-271818.jpeg

Do I spend 2 hours being active every day of the week? No. Do I work on my Blog every day of the week, I Try. Do I get 8 hours sleep every night? I don’t think I’ve had that since becoming a parent.

So when do I Blog?

Whenever I have free time! I’m not saying I write posts start to finish in one session each time. While that would be nice, it would also mean I get very little free time which if you look at the above isn’t true. Technology these days means I can blog just about anywhere from my smartphone. I record ideas as soon as I have them, I write when the creativity strikes, and I put the finishing touches on when I can sit and spend the time doing so.

The only way you can make time to do everything you want is to stop making excuses about why you didn’t do them.

It’s not always about having the time to do everything you want, Its about making the time. Don’t tell me “I don’t have the time”.

 

 

Pop Culture Ruined??

When kids come along your Life changes for the better, but some habits are hard to let go of. Pop Culture is a part of everyone’s lives and that includes your kids, but what’s relevant to you as a Dad and how often you can enjoy it will vary to that of before parenthood.

I read an article on a site I follow titled “Direct Advice for Dads” which is exactly what it sounds like. Their recent article 6 Ways your kid will ruin pop culture forever by AndrewPStreet was one I was really able to relate to. The article summarises 6 key points around just how Popular Culture streams change now you are a parent. Below ill list the same 6, with some helpful tips on how to reduce the impact.

1. You’ll never sit through a movie uninterrupted again

Blockbuster Movies these days just keep getting longer (2hrs 40mins for the latest Avengers movie), as parent with young kids you will find the chances of you having this amount of time unbroken is rare. This doesn’t mean you have to miss out, instead make sure you see these types of films when they are still at the cinema, a great idea for a monthly Date Night.

pexels-photo-436413.jpeg

The other option as listed in the article is the volume turned down and subtitles on. Something my wife and I have started doing recently, and find it funny some of the lines you pick up on when you can read them rather then listen to them.

2. You have new nightmares now

Those Liam Neeson movies will become a whole lot more realistic when your child has wandered into the next aisle at the grocery shop. The Punisher’s children being murdered feels like justification for his vengeful actions.

These action movies might have seemed a bit far fetched before parenthood, and you may have thought you were over the nightmares you had as a kid, but all of a sudden you will feel an emotional connection to the characters in these movies.

3. Things get horribly visceral

While the Star Wars prequel movies have always been a hot topic of discussion between fans (i’ll save that for another day), The scene in Revenge of the Sith where Anakin slaughters the younglings may have made for a powerful scene in the movie will now have a different effect on you

Its scenes like that which when you first watched them would never have hit so close to home. Now your watching your favorite movies doesn’t seem like such a great idea.

4. Your kids have their own nightmares

If you think back to your childhood, nightmares often came from movies or shows with reoccurring characters, completely harmless and there for entertainment. The same goes for your kids, we are all guilty of watching the same movie over and over as it keeps our child quiet. Any character or scene that gets stuck in their head could easily turn into a nightmare for them.

No real way to avoid this one, sorry Dads. What were the focus of some of your nightmares? Clowns?

5. Styles have changed, Grandpa

Movie styles and camera shots have definitely changed. When I was young, movie scenes lasted a lot longer, individual shots could last over 10 seconds. These days camera shots are much shorter and the average scene would be close to half of what it used to be.

This change in pace makes for a very different experience. Kids don’t have the patience we do and a longer scene without much action is not going to engage them the same way it used to for you.

Every Dad has seen Star Wars, think back to A New Hope. What kid these days is going to watch 40 minutes of a couple of robots wandering the desert?

6. Speaking of evolving tastes

Our kids are always learning, and there is no way to limit that. They pickup things from the way we act and respond, their environment, and what they hear. How many times has your kid repeated something back to you that either you just said or they heard on a song.

Now look at your playlist, unless its already full of kids sons, how many of those songs feature lyrics about topics you probably don’t want your kid repeating. I suggest creating another playlist for when the kids are around, and enjoy your 90’s Hip Hop when they are not around.

Pop Culture Ruined
Pop Culture Ruined

 

Popular Culture covers many topics and comes in a wide range of media. These are all made for our entertainment, however not necessarily for our kids. How and if you choose to alter your habits is entirely up to you, but having a child sleep through the night without waking up to nightmares is lovely. Listening to your child repeat words from your old playlists probably isn’t.

Month in Review – April in Numbers

30, the current age in years of me AKA Down Under Dad, also the amount of Days in April. What other numbers were important in April? Here is a quick run down.

calculator-calculation-insurance-finance-53621.jpeg

937 – The number of times one of my pages was viewed by you.

359 – Unique visitors to my site. Were you one of these? did you make up more then one of these, how many pages did you view?

132 – how many times my posts have been ‘liked’ by readers.

30 – fellow bloggers I have connected with since since starting this Blog (i cheated here, this is total, not just for April)

85 – Facebook Page likes, the wider non blogging world who enjoy (I think) getting notified when I’ve posted.

85 – Also the number of times my most popular post Choose your workout buddy was viewed

20180509_002448_00012048701643.png

56 – Instagram, Those who like to keep up to date daily (mostly) purely in image form.

37 – Individual comments on my posts. Why it may seem like something simple, these really mean a lot, its always nice knowing my posts have made a connection with you.

23 – Different countries that had people view my page. May seem like a lot but as you can see there is still a lot of white on the map. Share the word, lets get this colored in.

april-map.png

19 – Number of individual posts. If I’m honest this number could have been higher, I definitely had the time to. Being relatively new to blogging means my efficiency isn’t quite there yet. looking forward to growing that number. Watch this space.

So there you have it, a month in numbers. While this probably won’t be revisited every month, I look forward to doing it again down the track. I do need to thank stomperdad who gave me the idea to review where April led me.

For those who have engaged with my Blog so Far, Thank You! Its nice knowing you are out there. If you like what you have read or you know someone else who might, let them know! Tag, Share, Email, do whatever the cool kids are doing these days to spread the word.

 

Date Night

At the beginning of a relationship date nights are regular, any night that you are both free gives you the opportunity to spend quality time together. Once you begin raising a family date nights can become a rarity.

While they won’t feel like a priority, its important that you try to maintain them.

 

Making it Happen

For some this will be easy, others will find it more difficult. Regardless you need to find a way. Family love spending time with your little ones, Friends who are also parents are a good option, if you need to, hire a babysitter.

We are lucky in the fact our parents not only love spending time with our child, they do a pretty good job of looking after him too.

While we have a few friends who are parents, all their kids are around the same age as ours, which at the moment means they are a handful. As they grow older we will benefit from this as will our children.

At this stage we haven’t needed to hire a babysitter, but that doesn’t mean its not a viable option for you. If this is your only option then I would encourage you to explore it. Not only will your relationship benefit from it but so will your sanity.

pexels-photo-300913.jpeg

Child Free Night

Once you have your peace its time to make the most of it. Depending on the support you have from family and friends, Child Free Nights may be few and far between so don’t waste it. Its time for your and your partner to spend some quality time together. It doesn’t need to be extravagant but it needs to be with both of you.

Last night were child free so we went to the movies. I had to work yesterday and today so a big night wasn’t feasible, but we were determined to do something. While it wasn’t our original plan, we felt like we should make the most of it. The movie ‘Blockers’, wasn’t our first choice, but given we had relatively short notice we had to make do. The movie ended up being a great choice.

The rest of the night was quite simple and we used it to get a good nights sleep. Something any parent values very highly.

 

The Benefits

Your Relationship with each other – Spending time together without kids will allow you to strengthen your bond with each other. Without the stress of parenting, you will be reminded of what your lives were like before having kids, and how that led towards starting a family.

Your Relationship with your Kids – While it might be tough to leave them somewhere or watch them drive off. When you do see them again you will be filled with joy. The sleepless nights, the long days, all of a sudden they won’t seem as bad.

Your Sanity – Perhaps the most important benefit. Parenting can be tough, its a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week job. Scheduling a Date Night allows you to take a break. Whether you choose to enjoy it as it is and just have a quiet night at home, or you decide to make the most of the 12 to 24 hour break. It will do wonders for your sanity, especially if your going through a tough stage of your child’s development (teething anyone?)

pexels-photo-95949.jpeg

Whatever way you choose to spend your date night, this child free time will be for the best. Don’t stress if you can’t arrange an entire night to yourselves, even a couple of hours for lunch will make a difference. Just don’t go kidding yourself that you don’t need it, Your Kids won’t hold it against you. If you haven’t had the opportunity yet, you don’t know what your missing out on.

 

 

 

Being Successful while putting your family first.

Being successful in the workplace isn’t just getting a promotion or a payrise (although thats always nice). Its about job satisfaction as well.

As a Dad, it can be tricky to maintain a healthy relationship with your family while being successful in the workplace as well. It really comes down to your short and long term goals.

I am currently in a new role in my workplace and trying to succeed in it. While also raising a toddler. What does that mean? It means there are going to be days I need to take off to look after a sick child. There are going to be days I need to leave work right on the dot because I need to pick him up from daycare. There are going to be days where I am a zombie because I was up all night. A good boss will understand this, but you need to be honest with them, also try to see it from their side every once in awhile and on your good days go over and above and this will outweigh the other days.

My longterm goal is based around raising my family, part of that is ensuring financial stability for their future. Short term goals include progressing into a role that is sustainable and helps ensure that financial stability. Along with maintaining healthy relationships with my family. While my goals have both a personal and professional side to them. I always try to put the personal above the professional. If I can achieve these goals I will feel like I am successful in the workplace. But again this is going to look different for everyone.

How will you know when you have achieved job satisfaction? When you jump out of bed in the morning ready and rearing for work. Just kidding, for those of us who aren’t traditionally morning people that will never happen, and for those of us who are parents, We will never be excited about going to work if we haven’t slept. I believe when you have achieved job satisfaction you will stop thinking about all the ‘what ifs’. What if you worked somewhere else? What if you hadn’t taken on that responsibilty? What if you didn’t work? You won’t be asking these questions because you won’t be worried about work and your spare time will be spent thinking about your family.

So set your goals and work towards them, but make sure you take your family along for the journey.

Eating Healthy or rather trying to. . .

Eating Healthy comes in many different forms. What works for some doesn’t work for others. What you can’t argue with is the benefits. As a working Dad it can be hard to stick to any sort of meal plan.

Everyone you ask will give you a different description of what healthy eating is. Here’s a few that come to mind

  • Eating from the 5 food groups
  • Getting all your serves of fruit and vegetables.
  • Apple a day keeps the doctor away

When you think about what people say there are a lot of common themes and some not so common.

I don’t have any grand plans about loosing weight or getting a 6 pack, I just want to live a long and healthy life so I can keep up with my kids. So what do I do? I focus on trying to eat as healthy as possible when I can so it outweighs the times I can’t. Not as easy as it sounds.

Planning is a key part of this. You can’t eat healthy if your pantry is full of junk. So next time your doing a grocery shop. Take a bit more time and think before you buy. Once you have the food. Set aside the time to prepare it. I am by no means a chef but i’ve found healthier meals take longer to prepare (if you know of any shortcuts definately let me know). If you can tick those two boxes the hard work is done, you just need to make it habit.

What do I do while working? Again plan ahead. Every day I make a smoothie with a combination of blueberries, strawberries, banana apple, kiwi, spinach, and honey. Doesn’t sound that appetising but tastes alright and I know its good for me. Bonus it helps keep me full and stops me snacking on junk food.

Now I’m no dietician and will never claim to be. There is a wealth of information available if you look for it. I know what works for me. That’s the most important part, find what works for you, and maintain it as best you can.

Rough Day at Work

Everyone has a bad day at work ftom time to time. For some its a rare occurence and easy to brush off, maybe you find yourself having more bad days then good days (more on that later), and sometimes it just feels like everything that could go wrong has gone wrong.

At the end of the day you need to remember why you are there. For Dads that’s easy to answer, to support your family. If we didn’t need to do that then we could stay home and spend more time with our families.

If you are finding you really dislike your job. Then my advice would be to find a new one. Its not good for your mental health which means its not good for your family. Ill expand on this in another post as i think it deserves more detail.

I try to stick to one train of thought when having a bad day, tomorrow will be a new day. Ultimately when you have tried your best and still come up short there isn’t a lot you can do about it, and a good boss will understand that. Try to leave your stress at work at the end of the day and go home and enjoy your time with your family. Tomorrow will be a new day.

I work in a leadership role and I see both types of people. Those who don’t care about what they are doing and it shows, and those who are trying their hardest and still struggling. The latter are the ones who succeed in the long run. They are also the happier and healthier people in the workplace.

So try to enjoy your time at work, do the best you can every day, and remember, tomorrow is a new day. . .

dad and ol