Every week (pretty much), I post some suggestions of weekend activities because, as I've explained, I hate it when my kids are bored and I find it only leads to trouble.
This week, I read this story in The Atlantic, about how parents sometimes over-program their kids lives and don't leave enough time for free play, which, in turn, can leave them anxious and depressed. I'm already mildly obsessed with the idea that I'm making bad parenting decisions, and this heightened things. Add in the fact that Jack, my 5-year-old, has seemed a little depressed and anxious lately—he recently told me was worried about dying (oy!)—and I started to really question my "keep em busy" mantra.
I reassure myself that our boys really do have plenty of free play time, and they often use it in creative ways, building things, creating different scenarios and acting them out, etc. The real problem we have is that Jack, in particular, has real difficulty playing independently. He very rarely initiates creative play himself and will often cling to my wife or I until we initiate some project, game, or activity. We've tried to encourage him to initiate play himself, but that's when he gets frustrated and bored.
Looking around for advice on-line, I found this, which had some good pointers. Most of these things we already do or have tried, but we could probably be better at rotating toys and modeling play. As far as modeling goes, we get on the floor and play with the boys all the time. The hard thing is to walk away mid-activity and get them to take over. But over time, I've noticed that Jack does remember those lessons—and takes them in entirely new directions—it just takes time to see the results.
In the mean time, I still do love going out and doing things as a family, so here are some ways to keep em busy—but not too busy—this weekend:
The Harbor Harvest Festival at West Shore Park by the harbor is an annual can't-miss for us, featuring a petting zoo, pony rides, a pumpkin patch, a straw maze, and a performance by Milkshake, all free!
As part of the Baltimore Marathon this weekend, there is a Kids Fun Run, in which kids run a short distance and cross the same finish line as the marathoners, winning medals and t-shirts.
On Saturday, the Maryland Naturalist Center hosts Critterpalooza!, with lots of live animal displays, crafts, a costume contest, nature activities and more.