(Written by Rob Perkins) The best thing about having kids is spending time with them. Of course, life can’t be one long holiday but those weekends and evenings after work are brilliant for doing stuff together and really bonding as friends. If you’re thinking of ways to spend time with your nearest and dearest then why not consider a hobby that you can both start together or that you can teach your offspring to love like you do?
Below are six of my favourites that I’ve got my little ones into or that my parents used to do with me. As mentioned, doing things together can be great fun and really rewarding and as soon as you start to lay the foundations you’ll have a friend and companion for years to come.
Peaceful and contemplative, this is one of the all-time greats for parent and child bonding. The two of you sat on a riverbank, sharing a flask and some soggy sandwiches waiting for a bite. Until they’re old enough of course, then you can send them out for the day on their own, while you spend the day relaxing on the sofa in front of the football. Then come six o’clock there’s a ring on the doorbell and there’s your delightful offspring, holding the evening meal in his hand. Lovely.
Supply the kids with a good stock of messy ingredients, flour, chocolate, milk, eggs etc, a bunch of old pans and some badly-photocopied recipes, and leave them to get creative. Return either in two hours’ time or whenever the smoke alarm goes off to see what they’ve come up with. If the results are even halfway edible then this hobby is worth pursuing, because within a few months you can put them in charge of making dinner every night.
- Learning a Language
Great one this, because they pick up the basics at school already. Nip to the shops and invest in some cds of French, German or Spanish, to help your little ones in their attempts to become bilingual. They’ll sit there in headphones for hours on end, quietly reciting phrases to themselves, and within a very short space of time you can put the responsibility for translation work on family holidays firmly in their laps. “Dos cervesas por favour Senor!”
- Scientific Experiments
You’ll need to keep a close eye on Junior with this one. A few drops of this or that in the test-tube either side of the right amount could result in the roof being blown off the house, or a nasty headache after the release of a funny-smelling gas. But handled correctly this can be a big winner – if you can steer your budding scientists in the direction of medicine, you could save a lot of money by having them create home-made treatments and remedies every time you get ill. Who knows, they may even find the cure for a famous illness in their bedroom laboratory – it’s happened before, it could happen again!
Avoid making this too expensive a hobby by touring the local scrapyards til you find an old banger you can bring home and park in the driveway. Then let the kids tinker beneath the bonnet to their hearts content, finding out what that button does and why they should never unscrew that thing. With a bit of expert guidance (from Uncle Internet), you should have your very own skilled mechanics within a few years who you can then set confidently on the loose on your real car every time there’s a problem.
- Playing a musical instrument
A lot of parents tend to shy away from this one, since it evokes images of Junior repeatedly rendering music you once loved into versions of unparalleled ear-bleeding misery. But keep in mind that of all the hobbies you can encourage your children to take up, music has the potential to make your life easier one day – imagine if they become wildly successful! My little one went away on a concert tour with Brightspark recently, had a great time and his talent has really improved – I’m already talking to agents!
Rob is the father of a 6-year-old son and regularly contributes articles on behalf of Brightspark school travel.