It’s no secret that I’m the proud aunt of four nieces and a nephew, ranging in ages from 2 years to 17 years old. I love being an active part of their lives. Watching them grow warms my heart and I can’t explain the love I feel for them. When people ask me if I have children, I never say no but answer, “Four nieces and a nephew.”
Having such a diverse age range means we try a variety of activities. Thankfully all five adore each other, and the two older girls are always happy to play with the younger ones (who love spending time with them!). I recently babysat the younger three (A is 6, B is 5 and C is 2; yes, their names do start with A, B & C!) – we packed so much into the evening, I’m not sure who was more tired! There was no argument about bed time! My cheeks hurt from laughing so much. I always try to play toys or come up with fun activities to do when I’m watching the kids so thought I’d share some of our favorite ideas:
Read books: I am a reading fanatic so any time I get an opportunity to share a book with the kids, I take advantage. My sister takes the younger ones to the library often so we either read those or from the vast collection on their bedroom bookshelf. A is becoming a great reader so lately I encourage her to take a turn.
Dance: Music is a big part of my family’s life, which translates down to the kids. They love to sing and dance. Sometimes we just turn the radio or iPod on to get into the groove; other times we play Wii Dance Party, Disney Dance Party or Michael Jackson Dance. I love watching the intense concentration on the little ones’ faces while they learn the dance moves, and then the burst of pride when they realize they’re following perfectly! We have tons of fun while promoting an active, “keep the feet” moving lifestyle!
Art projects: We color, cut, paint and sparkle a lot. With the leaves changing to fall colors, I love taking the kids outside to explore nature and collect leaves, acorns, twigs and other natural items. Then we grab some construction paper, glue sticks and markers to make fun pictures.
T-ball in the backyard: America’s pastime can be modified for the younger citizens. So we make bases from the trees or dog toys in the yard, take turns batting and standing in outfield. Even little C is on our team (although she likes to hit and then chase her own ball, which makes the older two roll their eyes a lot!). It’s pure chaos mixed with lots of laughs.
Be silly and fun: I always encourage the kids to be imaginative. So yes, the stuffed dog ‘barks’ and the Little People princesses ‘talk’ to each other. We ‘taste’ the tea made by C and cover our ears when B’s fire engine sirens go off. There are moments when the kids look at me like I’m a little crazy but then their little giggles come and their creativity takes over.
The most important activity we always do? Laugh, laugh, laugh! It would be easy to turn on the television or grab the iPad, but those aren’t my personal go-to items for anything. I love talking, laughing and playing with them. I know these are memories that I will remember and cherish forever, moments to look back on as they grow into adulthood. I can only hope they’ll remember and cherish too.