By: Shannon Ralph
It’s official. Spring has arrived, and it’s here to stay. The days are getting longer. Flowers are blooming. Trees are budding. The sun shines high in a crystal blue sky. Joggers are shaking off the winter doldrums and hitting the lakeside trails in shorts that probably should have been outlawed in 1972. Bikers are once again obstructing traffic on busy thoroughfares throughout the city. Pale skin that has not seen the light of day for six long months is suddenly on display en masse beneath too itsy-bitsy, too teeny-weenie, yellow, polka dot bikinis.
In short, all is well with the world once again.
Yesterday, in a moment of Spring-induced euphoria, I threw open my living room windows to bask in the glory of a beautiful morning. As I inhaled that heady floral aroma that only exists on certain perfect May days, a painful screech emanated from behind me—like the wail of cat that unsuspectedly falls into a bathtub. Surprised and a wee bit terrified, I turned to find a flock of vampires occupying my couch. I screamed. I clumsily tried to escape out the much-too-small-for-my-ample-butt window. Then I squinted. These particular vampires looked vaguely familiar.
Wait a second…
Three pale, pasty children—MY children—lay on the sofa, contorted into awkward fetal positions clutching their iPads and Kindles in skinny, translucent hands. They weren’t vampires, after all. They were simply Minnesotans after a long winter. Huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
I immediately knew what I had to do. I needed to get these people some vitamin D. Stat!
But how does one go about coaxing winter-weary vampiric children out into the sunlight once spring has sprung? How does one pry beloved electronics from their stone-cold death grips? What is a mother to do with three outdoors-adverse children in desperate need of sunshine?
Luckily, the opportunities for springtime fun with children are endless. Below are some ideas that may just come in handy as you drag your own little vampires into the light of day.
- See some baby animals – Spring is an awesome time to head to your local zoo! As we all know, the birds do it. The bees do it. Even the pygmy marmosets do it. This time of the year provides a wonderful opportunity for you to share a delighted squeal with your little ones over the ridiculously, adorably fluffy baby animals at the zoo.
- Spring cleaning – Make a game of it! Pump up the music. Play “follow the leader.” Have window-washing races. See who can collect the most loose change. Have fun!
- Spring gardening –Kids love to watch things grow. Involve your children in your spring planting. Then let them enjoy the fruits (and vegetables!) of their labors later in the summer.
- Wash the car together –I have fond memories of washing my mom’s car in our little Kentucky driveway. A hose. A sponge. A bucket of suds. “Accidentally” spraying my sister…over and over and over again.
- Head to a farmer’s market – This is a great time of the year to introduce your children to a local farmer’s market. Many markets, in addition to fruits and vegetables, include delicious baked goods, cut flowers, and fun music.
- Fly a kite – Breezy spring days are perfect for kite flying. Better yet, BUILD a kite with your children and then head to the park to fly your creation.
- Use sidewalk chalk – Kids love to create “art.” Cover your entire sidewalk with colorful drawings. Teach your kids to play hopscotch. A day spent sitting on the cool concrete will work wonders for all of you!
- Make root beer floats – Involve your children. Let them scoop the ice cream. Ignore the mess. Enjoy your delicious creations outside on the porch or patio!
- Go on a picnic – How about forgoing the usual lunchtime picnic and having breakfast in the park?
- Have a garage sale – Give the kids specific jobs to do. Let them decide what they want to sell of their own belongings. Teach them the value of recycling and reselling. Let them keep their earnings.
- Camp out in the back yard – A tent. Some ghost stories. Snacks under the stars. SO much fun!
- Blow bubbles – Kids (and adults!) of all ages love bubbles! Check out these recipes for homemade bubbles!
- Play in the rain – Spring provides plenty of opportunities for splashing in puddles and singing in the rain! You won’t melt…I promise.
- Visit a botanical garden – Tulips! Daffodils! Petunias! Roses! Lavender! Lilies! Need I go on?
- Go park hopping – Make a goal to play at a new park every week. Explore the city you live in!
- Bird watching – Set up a bird feeder in your front yard. Check out a book about birds from your local library. Take a nature walk and see how many birds your kids can identify!
Photo Credit: Lauren Hammond