Summers can be perplexing, especially for armchair dads who would rather enjoy their precious weekends at home with their kids.
Here’s some good news for lazy-dad this season: most of these activities need take you only as far as the universe in your backyard.
The Great Backyard Bug Safari: Kids love to dig for worms, so encourage them to look up frogs and tadpoles while they’re at it. Don’t forget to scare mom with the lizards. Mesmerize the kids by showing them how ants can crawl on the tip of your thumbnail.
Put on the drag show: No need to go shopping for haute couture this summer. Just pull out those old flowing gowns from the attic and assemble wholesome motleys of hats, purses, gloves, and feathers. Let your kids strut their stuff in the backyard. Make sure the neighbors applaud.
Cool off: Turn on the sprinklers, have the kids put on swimsuits, and have a rain dance. Let the kids call in their friends for a party. And don’t forget to play that funky music.
Be your kids’ favorite superhero: Take out an old bed sheet, wrap it around your neck, and swing into action in the garden as “Cool Dad,” using a water pipe to hose down anything that moves. This is sure to generate gigabyte scores on the laughter scale.
Operation clean-up: The backyard needs cleaning and you’re not the only one who owns it. Let your kids know that you’re ‘Sergeant Dad’ for the day. Line ‘em up and show them how they can help pull weeds and sprinkle the flowers with small easy-to-use watering cans. Make sure you have a kid-sized rake and other small tools (spades etc.) handy.
Remember the Alamo: Tell your kids the family needs to build a ‘Secret Fort’ against unknown enemies in the neighborhood. Help your children drape old sheets over tree limbs and pass them around clotheslines. Eat dinner there. Stay up chasing fireflies and listening to “night sounds.”
Set up a car wash: Here’s how you can get your kids to clean up this summer without all the nagging and complaint. Line up your kids toy cars and trucks (or any other waterproof playthings), and let them give the toys a good blast of water and scrub them down. Help them rinse, and then relax as their shiny cars dry in the sun.
Surprise the locals: give your kids a good reputation in the neighborhood. Help with baking a fresh batch of cookies (or just pick up some ice pops), and pass them around the neighborhood; good folks are sure to remember a summer favor and the kids will learn a lesson about the joy of giving.
If you want to go one up, have some goodies hand-delivered by your kids to your local fire station. The firefighters will appreciate the surprise—and your child will share some time with their heroes, maybe get to sit in those awesome trucks.
Its Hammock time: Fasten a few hammocks around the backyard, let your kids crawl up on your belly, and sway the afternoon away. It’s a great way for dads to bond with kids. Play cloud picture games in the sky; be astonished by your child’s wild guesses.
The Chalk mural: Unleash their creativity. Buy your kids some colored chalks and let them cover the backyard walls with pictures of their favorite animals, Disney characters, and whatnot. Use neon chalks, so your child can stare at her glowing creation at nighttime from the bedroom window.