Human beings are creatures of habit and as such we create routines without even realizing that we are doing it at times. Routines allow us to get to everyday things that we need to get done efficiently. When routines for relaxation and recreation are developed they can limit our experiences.
I for one am a creature of habit and especially if there is something that I enjoy I tend to do it over and over again. That is great except when it limits what I am getting a chance to explore that I also may enjoy.
I make photo books online every year to document the kids years from birthday to birthday. They are adorable but I started to notice that year after year the books were looking very much the same with just slightly older children in each one.
I realized I was in a rut even though it was full of things I had enjoyed and great times that dong the same things over and over were not allowing me other types of experiences with my kids and it meant there was a world of other places and activities that my kids were not experiencing. One of the biggest hurdles for me was that we always have annual passes to a certain magical kingdom. Once I have spent all that money I feel the need to go several times a year. COULD I REALLY skip a year of the MOUSE??? Could that even be done…gasp. I guess we will see because that is a big part of making this years challenge effective. If I falter and find myself staring up at a big pink castle I will have failed in my mission. Really not sure I can do it.
With all that time and financial resources freed up it was time to make a plan. Oh, I also vowed to limit birthday party attendance to only the kids that were genuinely important to my children. You can spend a lot of time on the birthday party circuit I tell you. Cake-pinata-cake-pinata-cake-pinata…and so it goes.
THE FUN RUT CHALLENGE
STEP 1: Write each of the next 12 months on a piece of paper allowing space beneath each for room to work
STEP 2: Write in the things you are definitely going to do under each month. This means all of the routines that you can’t or do not want to break. Stuff like the annual camping trip or your November visit with grandma.
STEP 3: Make a brainstorm list of everywhere you want to go with the kids and everything you want to show them. The list should be dauntingly long and just keep the ideas flowing. There is always next year and the year after that. SO slap it all down on the list every museum, New York City, The Grand Canyon, that funky taco place 3 cities over, a concert, a picnic in the park, a bike ride on your city trail, animal rescues, you name it. Big things and small things…EVERYTHING you can think of that tickles your fancy. All the things you think you will get to one day but never do and all of the things you think you will never get to at all.
STEP 4: Look at your list and try to think of a few more things to add that will challenge you and/or your kids mentally or physically. Have you ever skiied? Have you ever kayaked? Have you ever snorkeled? Is there something outside of the box of what you define as “you” that there would be an exciting yet safe way to try. I for one look forward to trying out some gentle white water rafting when my youngest is a bit older. That is definitely not in the “me” box as of yet anyway.
STEP 5: Look at your list and try to think of a few things that would fuel your child’s interests. This could be finding a way to meet their favorite character from TV or visiting a Barbie Museum (that must exist somewhere). It could also mean seeking out an animal rescue for their favorite animal, a train museum, whale watching, or a planetarium. There are some really cool options if you set out to deliberately think about it. This year I have found a really good birds of prey show. I also found a chocolate factory that gives informational tours (for when we finish reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). It is great to feed a child’s passion. Even if the passion is Spongebob it is an amazing lesson for the child that there are endless opportunities out there in life if you seek them out. It teaches them that things are possible and that taking initiative is a powerful force.
STEP 6: Decide how many things you can reasonably fit in each month and start slotting in some activities. Try not to overwhelm yourself. Life is going to happen so I say keep it to one or two things a month. You need to make sure you still have room for the holiday events, birthday parties, and tending to the business of life. If you make your calendar overwhelming you are much more likely to abandon it all together. It is also important to think about cost and time when you plan your adventures. Pick events that you have time for and not a whole series of activities that cost a fortune. There is next year and this list will be your jumping off point for next year. Work in pencil because you should be moving things around as you realize that some activity is not well suited for the middle of summer etc.
STEP 7: Look at your calendar of events. Does it seem doable? Are you excited about it? If it is overwhelming trim it now. Make it something you like. If it is not and you have pushed it too far then you will not want to look at it and try to stick to it. We all want to do more than we have time for. Be honest with your reality. If you have soccer commitments that drain you 3 months a year and the holidays are chaotic perhaps your goal should be 1 thing a month with nothing extra the 3 months of soccer.
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