Toddler Time – A School SendOff Top 10
Your kids won’t stay little forever. And you won’t live forever. Make the time count. #MakeMemoriesPop.
Our #FamilyFarm has a “Little Man” and a “Sprout.” They make life amazing—gifts from God with both responsibility and great blessing. True happiness can come from the littlest moments with loved ones. Here are some of this little memories we’ve made this summer with our little supervisors.
- Visit the Zoo
Okay, so I have a confession. This was the WORST spring on the farm in my lifetime. Crazy. So much so that I was almost a failed father. I had promised that we would all go to the zoo once they opened (April) on a Saturday that wasn’t raining AND that we weren’t in the field….so that didn’t happen until July. But seriously, go to the zoo. Feed some giraffes, ride the small train and carousel, and let the little people find snakes to bother Mommy with.
- Go to your County Fair or any regional fair
I’m different than my late father. He was a wonderful man
and an introvert. Active in the community but not so social. So I did something my Dad never did with me. I took the Little Man (age 5) to the County Fair while the Sprout (age 2) had a one-on-one night with his Mom. Enjoy a few rides and mingle with the other folks in the community. And there are plenty of things at the fair that don’t cost money—like the Cattle Show, 4-H and General Shows.
- FIGURE 8 DESTRUCTION!
On a related note, if you have boys or a girl with “Tom-Boy” tendencies, the Figure 8 and/or Demo Derby is a wild time. My Little Man enjoyed playing with this $4.99 ear muffs in the weeks leading up to this County Fair spectacle. Smokin’ engines, a slew of firefighters rushing in with extinguishers, and lots of CRASHES. It’s fun to people watch here too. #Merica!
- Throw Sticks into a Pond
Before we had kids, a friend a few years older than us with cute, twin girls came out to our place. We were worried they would be bored since, well, we didn’t know how to hang with little folks. We were wrong. One of the hits was chilling near our pond and throwing in sticks. That’s right. Throwing sticks into a pond. Seriously, our Sprout and Little Man enjoy this and it’s time outside enjoying quiet time and a nature walk.
- Make a Fort in the Living Room
The Sprout often comes to me saying “Make Fork!” It’s simple to do especially in our home. We have a very nice, but kinda small home that is open. The dining area is connected to the kitchen is connected to the living room and play room. So I try to change the combinations up, but usually it’s an amalgamation of dinner table, chairs, couch, and blankets to make a fort for the Sprout and Little Man to enjoy. This is clutch both when it’s too cold and too hot outside.
Ok, so we don’t have little girls and this list so far has shown it, but I’ve watched our littles play with others at church and daycare. I’m confident that all kids up to an age where they perceive “coolness” love to wrestle. This costs nothing except for a few tears and typical sibling complaints if you’re careful enough to referee…and understand that the little people aren’t going to go easy on you. Caution, watch your groin and eyes.
- Play in a Sandbox
About four years ago, I built a sandbox out of 4”x4” beams in 8’ sections. I covered them with plywood on hinges to keep the critters and cats out of it. It was a simple job that has led to hours upon hours of outdoor fun. Lots of time wielding shovels, building castles, digging holes with their excavators later, we still make memories hanging out in the sandbox.
- Build Stuff
Our Little Man has taken an interest in Legos. We encouraged this when his Pre-K Teacher noted that he could use a little work on his fine-motor skills. This has led to lots of time together—with the TV turned off—at our dining room table working together. And it doesn’t need to stop there. As farmers we need to be “Jack-of-All-Trades” and so we kind of build or repair things all the time. My brother-in-law is an excellent, nearly full-certified welder. He took the time one Saturday to help Ryker build something with our MIG Welder in the shop from scraps dropped as we were fixing our fertilizer applicator. And thus “Chompy” the metal alligator was born and still sits proudly on the Little Man’s nightstand.
- Work Together – Make Your Work Fun
Ok, hear me out. Work is good and important. God gave us all skills and abilities to use for his glory and for our own benefit. Work can be fun—obviously not all the time, but it can be fun if you make that a point. That is one of my personal, key objectives on the #familyfarm: to make this a fun place with lots of wonderful memories. It’s not all “kittens and rainbows” on the farm—there’s lots of very trying experiences like any small-business but then compounded by the high asset requirements, whims of Mother Nature, and commoditized nature of your production. Why would the next generation come back to that if they didn’t enjoy any of it growing up? I’m surrounded by farmers whose children left to higher paying jobs and never came back. If my children don’t want to come back, that’s fine—but it won’t be due to a lack of good times and memories on the farm. For us, that means making the time deliberate, safe, and open for your children—talking with them, asking questions, singing a silly song and making provisions for them to “help” and feel included. Whether it’s holding a 4# hammer or hitting the welder switch or sweeping up the wood shavings on the shop floor, giving them a job within their abilities means a lot. We bring our kids to ride in tractors, the semi, work in our shop, and walk into fields to check crops. It can be fun work if you make it fun.
- Eat Ice Cream Together – Preferably at the End of a Day of Work So Its More Special
We have a local gas station a few miles away near the interstate that has the best self-serve ice cream I’ve ever had. It was always a bit of a treat when I was growing up. We also now have a Culver’s in our County Seat, the town where Mommy works—so our overall consumption of excellent ice cream (“The Concrete Mixer!”) and fried cheese curds is up like 10,000% when we’re in-season on the farm. While we obviously want to encourage our kids to eat healthy, what better way than to make an ice cream run as a special trip rather than a meal staple? We’ve went to both Culver’s and our local gas station a few times after a long day playing and/or working—capping off a nice day with another fun memory. If you’re going to eat ice cream at home like most people do, go all out. Grab some toppings and invite friends, neighbors, or family over so that it’s a big deal for the kids.
Life is short. Go out and #MakeMemoriesPop.