Like many other dads, I work crazy hours most days and usually only get to see my son for an hour or two in the evening, and that’s usually spent eating dinner, cleaning up, etc. To make the most of my time with him, I have a few instant bonding time activities: highly concentrated doses of father-son bonding, when you have 15-30 minutes to make up for the whole day.
|Jack loves walks. He’s too young to walk around the block, so we usually take the stroller or a trike or a wagon. I point things out as we walk by and tell him what they are. Like a lamp post or a mail box. He points things out and I tell them what they are. Or I say a word and have him point it out. It’s a great way to build his vocabulary. We have three dogs who love to come along on the walks with us–Jack gets to pick who gets to go each time. When he was younger, this was a nightly routine for us–till he figured out that I was walking him to put him to sleep and started hating the stroller. If you’re in the market for a stroller, I highly recommend the Jeep Liberty Limited 3 Wheel All Terrain Stroller. It’s pretty cheap and really sturdy, but the best part about it is it comes with speakers and an mp3 attachment. Nothing soothes a cranky baby like some Bocelli while he’s getting strolled!|
|Another really fun activity is bike rides. I have a CoPilot Limo Bicycle Child Seat attached to the back of my bike, and he really loves it. It’s got a 3-point seat belt, straps for each feet and an amusement park-style latch to keep him safely attached to the seat. It also mounts and unmounts off it’s stand easily, so I can transfer it from my bike to my wife’s bike in under a minute. We’ve been using this thing for a year now and not a day goes by when Jack sees it without asking to go for a ride. We usually ride the bike to the neighborhood park, stop and play there for a while. It’s also great exercise–it’s really been helping with the whole pot-belly situation I have going on.|
|I know many people who think reading to a young child doesn’t make any difference because they don’t really understand it. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I started reading to Jack since before he was born. Yes, it felt silly reading a book to my wife’s tummy, even though the book was meant to be read “in utero”, but I think it got him used to my voice. About 30 seconds after he was born, he stopped crying when I started talking to him because he knew my voice. That’s huge! Anyway, Jack likes books more than most kids, and reading is one of his favorite activities. He picks out a book, brings it to me, and sits in my lap waiting for me to read it. We really encourage this by getting him lots of books (and cycling through them like toys so he never gets tired of them), and by agreeing to read the same book 12 times in a row because every time we get to the last page he flips the book around and goes, “YEAH!”.|
|I sound like a beached seal when I sing, and like most other men in the world I prefer root canals to dancing. Except when it’s with a baby. Doesn’t matter how much you hated singing and dancing, once you had a baby you became an expert at it! Yes, I look extremely silly doing it, but it doesn’t matter because it makes my baby laugh. Music is very important to young children. Playing it often is great for their brain development. Dance holding your child, and pretty much anything you did to make him upset is forgiven. Jack and I spend quite a lot of time doing this. Every father should have Romanza by Andrea Bocelli on their iPods, cell phones, home stereos and car CD players! Something about this man’s voice will soothe the most upset child…|
What do you guys do with your kids? Share your thoughts/ideas/stories in the comments.