Sunday, May 17, 2009

Work and Play

My three kids are finally all old enough to go play outside by themselves. The eight-year-old is old enough to figure out when the three-year-old is doing something dangerous, and fast enough to either stop him from doing it or to call Mom for help. This means that the kids can play in the yard while Mom works in the garden, or makes dinner, or works with the goats, or whatever. A quick head count every few minutes is all that's necessary.

It helps that we don't have any inherently dangerous things laying around our yard like swimming pools, large farm equipment, gas tanks, electric fence, or bulls. When you live in the country, you not only have to kid-proof your house but also your yard. That, and the hard-and-fast rule of 'don't go down the driveway' should eliminate most hazards to young children.

Of course, the kids usually want Mom and Dad to play with them. I usually end up in a rousing, yet relatively gentle game of baseball or kickball. My husband, on the other hand, enjoys being more physical. He gets asked to play things like tackle football (where all the kids try to tackle Dad and take the ball away from him) or Whack-a-Dad (pictured below). Sometimes Dad tries to play Whack-a-Kid, but our boys think that game is much less fun.

Our family is going to begin a more formal approach to chores this summer. A written list of things that each of the boys has to do each day, before they are allowed to do more favored things (TV, video games, afternoon snacks, etc.). With all the plans I have for our farmstead in the coming years, the sooner the boys get used to helping out, the better. We'll start off with easy things, like collecting eggs and feeding the chickens, and move on to less-fun things like shelling peas and putting away laundry. Eventually I'll have them mucking out the barn, hoeing the garden and cutting hay.

That's the plan, at least. We'll see what the reality ends up being.


Karen said...

Hahahaha!! I love the "Whack-A-Dad" game!! Simon's expression just as Owen whacks him is priceless!! I can't imagine the boys on the receiving end of that game, however!!

Jo said...

Simon was on the fence about letting me post that picture. Not too flattering, but very expressive as you say! No, the boys didn't last long on the receiving end. Except when they were trying to bean eachother with the thing. Little boys can be quite aggressive ...

Karen said...

Little boys and little girls are soooo different, but I can totally imagine Bethany beaning Phill with one of those things!!