Can you imagine otters without water? Have you ever watched them at the zoo? They constantly move and play and swim. They don’t do a lot of laying around. You can always count on the otter exhibit for entertainment. It isn’t like the lions who you think are going to be prowling about and attacking their dinner in front of you, only they never do anything but sleep, because, after all–they ARE cats and their food is GIVEN to them. After 6 months of winter, and 3 months of rain (I am not kidding) and maybe 6 days of sunshine in the past 9 months, some of our Ohioan children are a little restless: like otters without water to play in, only there has been TOO much water, and they can’t play in it, so they have all of this energy to burn. To top it off, summer is coming….it could be a long one. If you are on a budget, have no pool nearby, and don’t have the greatest confidence in the weather, you are not alone.
The Holy Spirit must have heard me whining about the approach of summer and given me this idea yesterday. My kids are into those contest shows right now. They love “Minute to Win It” and “Wipe Out” and “The Next Food Network Star” (okay, that is another blog post). They have a competitive edge. They have energy. They are bored. It rains a lot here. Hmmmmm. I need to incorporate these otters into team work and cooperation. What good are otters who want to kill each other? That doesn’t make for good entertainment at the zoo or at home. So, here is my plan!
Desperately Seeking Peace (mom): Hey guys! I have the ULTIMATE CHALLENGE FOR YOU! (Use your game-show host voice here).
Otters: Awww. We don’t want to. Why do we have to….(Insert Charlie Brown cartoon voices here expressing boredom, distrust and suspicion in your plan. Mwhah mwhah mwhah).
DSPM: Once you have completed this challenge, you will be rewarded with a surprise gift inside this box (use old shoe box or tissue box wrapped in flashy paper and bow, and write “grand prize” on a peice of paper scrolled up with ribbon to look official. You can make the grand prize idea that you can afford…for cheap ones see below. Continue in game show host voice) But before we get to reveal the prize, you have one final TEAM CHALLENGE!! You must complete this [puzzle, lego set, lincoln log house] together without using words, in 20 minutes [adjust time to complexity of puzzle]. Before you can begin the group challenge, the following chores must be completed: beds made, laundry in bins, dishwasher emptied! (Chores vary for each child). You can use hand gestures to help, but NO FIGHTING, TALKING, WRITING, or MOUTHING WORDS! The time begins when you all have given me “five” for completing the first round of chores! GO!
HOPEFULLY ACCOMPLISHED: Chores, team work, silence, and time for you to check your email, grab a shower or that second cup of coffee and your garden magazine on the porch while they “compete”.
POST SCRIPT: I may be desperate, but I realize depending on the age of your kids, they may not fall for this. Hopefully, you get the idea that you can bribe and reward by means of group initiatives! The mystique of not knowing what is in the box is a big element of success. Here are some affordable ideas for summer fun that don’t cost much, don’t necessarily rely on good weather, and can vary by age of child:
- 20 minutes of Mommy and you playing any game you want (per child)
- $3-5 dollars each for the dollar store
- Ice cream or cold treat of any nature
- Chasing and purchasing from ice cream truck that night, and game of lighting bug catch in the yard (if no rain).
- Bargain movie trip (our wonderful little town has free movies during the summer on Tuesdays).
- Library trip (if your kids like books or computer game time)
- Mario Kart Marathon that night with the family: prizes can be picked up at dollar store, and wrapped!) Everyone wins for playing with a good sportsmanship.
- Five free stars toward the star-chart if you are doing one
- Trip to the used-book shop…this is one of our favorites, plus a smoothie afterwards.
- Putt Putt Night (you can even make up your own funny course in the yard!)