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Here are 21 bucket-list style things that, other parents, say your child must do before they hit an age where anything you suggest is just seriously un-cool.
1. Get dirty, really dirty. Splash in puddles, roll in leaves, have a food fight and a mud bath, or get buried in beach sand. The messier the better. As often as possible. (Even better when the mud just washes right out of their clothes leaving no marks!)
2. Go barefoot for, at least, one whole day. Let them feel the sand, mud, grass, pebbles even, on the soles of their feet: after all it’s what feet were made for.
3. Learn to float (without arm bands). Apart from the relief you will feel as a parent, nothing beats that feeling when you realise that the water can and does carry you! And then swim in a river, lake or dam, or just sit under a waterfall.
4. Dance in the rain. Be it a summer storm or a light drizzle, get wet, drink rain and have a hot bath afterwards.
5. Go naked. Play naked, swim naked: best done at home and with sunscreen on.
6. Go camping – even if it is just with a make-shift tent in the living room or garden. You may not even need a tent, just throw a mattress down with a pillow and sleeping bag and fall asleep in the open air.
7. Study the stars. Lie out on a blanket after nightfall and stare up at the stars. Make up stories about what you see, let your toddler do the talking, or just be quiet, until your child falls asleep.
8. Build a fire. Preferably with kindling and matches. Let your toddler light it. Once you have toasted your marshmallows, show your child how to put the fire out properly.
9. Watch the sunrise. Wake your toddler up in time to see the sky change colour and listen to the dawn chorus – unless they beat you to it and wake you up first.
10. Plant something, watch it grow and if possible, eat it with dinner or straight off the stem.
11. Visit a working farm. Milk a cow or goat, collect eggs from a chicken, or see crops being pulled from the ground, and if possible, watch an animal being born.
12. Climb a tree – lots of trees. Build a tree fort by draping blankets or towels over branches. Have a picnic in, under or next to a tree.
13. Form a band and make up a new song. You don’t need to go all X-factor on us, just let your child beat on a drum set or some pots, do a show for you, or even just crank up the volume and have a spur-of-the-moment dance party.
14. Just do it – something, anything – for someone else that has no obvious benefit to your child: all in the spirit of giving or charity.
15. Declutter. Sort through outgrown clothes, toys or books and let your child decide what he no longer needs, and who it should be given to (a younger sibling, friend or charity).
16. Go ‘unplugged’ for a weekend. No TV, cell phones or anything with an ‘i-‘ in its name. Eat by candlelight, cook on a flame, go to bed when darkness falls.
17. Learn to cook or bake something that they love to eat.
18. Dress up and not just by invitation. Put on a costume to go to the shops, or let them do something crazy or different with their appearance – a new haircut, or decorating a pair of shoes, a halloween t-shirt in May or old jeans with crayons, paint and stickers. Let them wear it in public.
19. Learn to save. Own a piggy bank and save up for something your child really wants, like an ice-cream, movie or even a toy. Give your toddler small, age-appropriate tasks to earn some money: helping to wash the car, water the pot plants, feed the pets, or a weekly allowance.
20. Plan and do a treasure hunt with, and for, your children.
21. Build something original. Create something new out of Lego (don’t just follow the
instructions), or help your child to build something, anything using your powertools.
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