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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How to have fun with children

Now why would one need instructions on having fun with children? It should be a given, right? Well, for lots of folks – parents included – it takes an effort to just have fun with children because of the daily responsibilities of life. Sometimes we need to consciously put aside seriousness and responsibilities to just have fun.

Believe me, in the end, it will be worth it. My quest to have fun with the children – instead of being the daily taskmaster – began this month. I’ve been challenged encouraged by one of my “besties” to choose something enjoyable to do with them at least once a month in addition to the regular stuff. You know: going to the park, etc. The encouragement was right on time because I had been thinking along those lines for the last few weeks. It seems to go along with my new life.

Having fun is as simple as deciding to do something that you’ll enjoy as a family. My children really enjoy eating out so one random day I took them to a buffet that offers discounts for children. Next month we’ll choose another one where kids eat free. This takes the pressure of preparing dinner off of me for at least one night of the week/month.

Our “big outing” this month was to check out Animalopolis at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History’s IMAX Theatre.. (Interested in more information about the film? Check out their website.) It’s been in town quite some time and when I first happened across the information I knew my children would love it. And, I must admit, I was enthralled as well. For one, I’ve never been to the museum and I’ve always wanted to see a film on the giant IMAX screen.

The second thing you want to do to have fun is build excitement: I didn’t tell the children until the night before that we were going. We looked at the film’s site and talked about what we would see. I don’t think we were really prepared for how much fun it would be.

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As soon as we walked around the corner of the building the children took off running to the waterfall that featured some fabulous dinosaur statues. The pointed, circled, laughed and stared. I assured them we’d visit the dinosaurs again when we came outside and hustled them in for bathroom run and to get ready for the show. Before we made it to the theatre we had to stop to checkout a fossil display, take a picture of the children “excavating” (I love to see their little faces in that thingy) and visit the gift shop. Once again, I assured them we’d stop on the way out. That brings me to number three: Be patient!

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We didn’t make it far before we saw the animals displayed: There was the bear you see them checking out and they’d already looked at the stuffed squirrel and chipmunk. They had a lot of questions about whether the animals were real. Number four: Always participate. It would have been easy to just walk around and look, but I chose to discuss everything with the children and answer their one million questions. We laughed together, pointed and played.

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They also loved this:DSCF5643

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My camera is not adequate enough to capture the entire dinosaur bones, but it was absolutely amazing. Andre wasn’t happy to stop to take a picture, Anna was so busy giggling I caught her with her eyes closed and Amareah was talking about what she could see and asking questions.

Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture of the inside of the IMAX, but it was magical walking into the lobby and looking up at a dark “sky” with millions of stars. We were amazed at the size of the screen when we were finally seated and spent the entire time staring at the screen. Animalopolis is extremely entertaining, educational and the ideal length for children of all ages (about five minutes before it was over Anna asked if it was time to go yet), which is the perfect recipe for a family outing.

We capped off the visit to Fernbank’s IMAX by getting a few souvenirs from the gift shop. Anna was proud to show off her bag (see below)…

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The last thing to do in order to have fun with your children: Relax … 

The best part of the day for me was my children’s responses:

Anna said, “This is the best movie ever.” Andre and Amareah agreed. As the day went on each one of them said in their own way, “This is a good day.”

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