7 Ways Not To Be a Boring Parent

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iStock_000016742728SmallWhen I got married and had kids my brother in law used to complain that married couples, especially with kids, became boring. Different stages of life present opportunities and responsibilities that can limit our spontaneity, but by all means, life does not end when you have kids. Cost and the inconvenience of keeping our interests alive can become troublesome if we let them, but there are ways to keep costs low and deal with inconveniences. The following are ways to solve issues of cost and convenience so you can stop being “boring” for your kids, yourself and your friends.

1. Create a date night group that share babysitting responsibilities.

My brother and his wife started a date night group that worked amazingly well for them for several years. The two or three couples in their group agreed that each couple would take one Friday a month to watch the other couple’s kids. Every weekend but their assigned Friday, they always had a free babysitter. Sometimes they chose to double or triple date with the other couples in the group, sometimes they chose to have some precious alone time, while other times they went out with old friends or did an activity of interest.

2. Don’t get a baby sitter (Take the kids along instead).

So often we feel like we have to have a baby sitter to do any of the things we used to enjoy with our friends. While I wouldn’t suggest going clubbing with your four year old in tow, (actually I wouldn’t recommend going clubbing anyway) there are many things we can do with our children. We often worry that we won’t get them to bed on time or it might mess up “the schedule,” but every once in a while bedtimes can be interrupted and the regular routine can be changed in order to live life. I love the blog www.cragmama.com . Erica Lineberry blogs about the incredible adventures she continues to go on with her child. Her little boy rock climbs right alongside his mother. My wife and I, like Erica, have continued to ski regularly with our children next to us. Sometimes it takes a little more planning, but sharing those experiences with our children just enhances the experience.

3. Go outside more.

Going outside is free. Everyone loves free! Go for a hike. Play in the snow. Go swim in a river or lake. Splash in puddles. Throw a ball around. Get a group of friends together to play a sport at your local park. Invite married and single friends. Let the kids play together in the grass or join the game.

4. Break your Television

TV has become America’s biggest pass time. It’s entertaining. It takes little personal effort and it is relatively inexpensive, but if you think about what you are actually doing when you watch television, it’s pretty boring. You just sit there. It sucks you in and because it takes so little effort to be endlessly entertained, we let go of all the other things we used to like to do because they take too much planning and work. We stop connecting with friends or our family. You don’t have to literally break your television. Just turn it off and leave it that way for a couple weeks and see what happens to your time and connection with others.

5. Plan the big stuff / Be spontaneous with the small stuff

One thing to realize as a parent is that everything you do takes more preparation and planning. Just leaving the house can feel like it is equivalent to planning an expedition up Mt. Everest. The thing to remember is that the view from the top of Everest is worth the plan and climb. For the big stuff like going on a trip or even attending a concert or something with a friend, plan ahead. For the little stuff like going outside to play, responding to a friend’s invitation to go to the park or to lunch, just go. Do it often. Leave the toys on the floor and the laundry unfolded and just go.

6. Invite people to your house for games/activities

Kids do sleep and to be honest I, along with most parents, love when they do. I remember in college, my evenings didn’t even begin until 9 or 10 PM. Reconnecting with friends can happen after kids go to bed. A lot parents are probably thinking, “right, like I can stay awake until 10 PM.” It may not be something that we always want to do, but for parents of young children, after the little ones go to bed can be a great time to invite others to your home for games or to just reconnect.

7. Be more aggressive with looking for deals.

There are some activities and interests that regardless of the above suggestions still cost money, but there are more resources now than ever before that give us access to coupons and deals. We just have to look for them. Websites like www.retailmenot.com, www.Groupon.com and many other local sites and services can help us to save money on activities that we otherwise could not afford.

Being married and having children certainly changes things and that’s OK. Let’s not buy into the stereotypical concept that once you have kids the fun is all over. My children have enhanced my marriage and my outside relationships by teaching me a little more selflessness and to take greater care with where and how I spend my time. When we look for adventures and opportunities to connect with people, we are able to maintain old relationships, make new ones and improve the lives of our children by exposing them to amazing life!

Question: What do you do to not be boring?

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