parents

7 ways to occupy your kids this weekend (that will also teach them some excellent life lessons).

My Little Pony
Thanks to our brand partner, My Little Pony

Ever feel like your kids could do with a bit of a lesson in gratitude and selflessness? Try this.

My kids have it pretty easy, which is great – but it also means they sometimes need a reality check to realise there are others out there less fortunate than they are.

So when I found out that My Little Pony is celebrating International Friendship Day, I decided to brainstorm a few fun weekend activities for my kids to do with their mates. The idea? To stretch them beyond their usual play routine, to try some tasks that will also teach them some solid life lessons along the way.

So the next time the kids have their friends over, I’ll be getting them to add one of the following activities to their regular playtime routine.

1. Make something together.

Nothing will teach cooperation better than getting the kids to make something together. They will be forced to work as a team to achieve a goal. And if, for example, they are making something like friendship bracelets, they can then sell them door-to-door (accompanied by an adult, of course) or at markets on the weekend, and give the proceeds to charity.

They’ll learn about teamwork, friendship and the importance of giving back. Win.

“Nothing will teach cooperation better than getting the kids to make something together.”

2. Play-acting kindness.

Kids tend to learn and develop friendships through role-play. So next time they’re playing dress-ups or playing with their My Little Pony toys, watch how the act of using their imaginations brings them closer.

You can also seize the opportunity to oh-so-subtly slip in some messages about generosity and kindness that they can (hopefully) replicate in real life.

Maybe their favourite toy shares some toy cake with some other dolls, and is rewarded with friendship and hugs as a result… You get the idea.

3. Picking up rubbish in the community.

Whenever we walk our dog, we always see rubbish in the streets around our home and talk about how littering is absolutely the wrong thing to do.

This gave me the idea to actually use one of the plastic bags I carry for poop scooping to actually pick up the rubbish while the kids had friends over. We talked about why it was important to keep our environment clean and we spoke about how if everyone picked up rubbish, our whole suburb would benefit. #learning

“Whenever we walk our dog, we always see rubbish in the streets around our home and talk about how littering is absolutely the wrong thing to do.”

4. Growing plants to share.

I have been trying to grow plants with the kids for the past five years, with mixed results. However, thanks to their brilliant school, they’ve become better at it than I am. The school has a vegetable patch so my kids and their friends are full of advice for how to grow cucumbers, lettuce and zucchini, the easiest of the vegetables to grow.

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You can take this to the next level by starting up a community garden in your area that everyone can benefit from. The kids can work with their friends and watch the garden grow, and everyone wins.

5. Selling arts and crafts.

I’m running out of room to store my children’s arts and crafts in giant plastic containers I purchased. So why not sell some of them?

We live in an area with lots of families and older couples who I am sure would love to purchase a wonky mug, a pretty picture or a colouring in page. Well, we’re about to find out. Just like the students from the art school across the road sell their paintings each Christmas, my children’s friends and I plan to go door-to-door doing the same thing. We’ll soon find out who is the best salesperson of the bunch.

“I’m running out of room to store my children’s arts and crafts in giant plastic containers I purchased. So why not sell some of them?”

6. Running a garage sale for charity.

Children are naturally curious about suffering and love to help in any way they can. Picking a charity that benefits kids or animals is a great way to teach them and their friends about things they can do to actually help.

Next time you set up a garage sale, invite the kids’ friends over for a playdate with a difference. Plan to donate the proceeds to a charity of their choice and then watch how hard they work that day to sell everything for as much as possible. Then, make the donation together.

Of course, there will be some toys kids won’t be as keen to sell… Image via Instagram @mylittlepony.

7. Washing the neighbour’s dog together.

Want to see children learning to work together and care for animals? Give them the job of washing the neighbour’s dog, especially if you have a neighbour who is older or a little frail. The more friends you can invite over that day the better.

It will take a few of them to chase the dog whenever it tries to run off and shake all the shampoo off. Just a tip… ask their parents to pack them an extra set of clothes because they are going to get drenched.

So, that’s how my kids will be celebrating International Friendship Day. What about yours?

How can you help your children become better friends?

Here are some classic kids movies (with the very best of life lessons)…

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The best fictional female friendships of all time.

“We need to teach our kids how to recognise BAD friendships.”

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