This is a guest post written by Bryan Willmert, who blogs at soulexcursion.com.
“These days are what we make of them” is a phrase that often rolls through my mind when I am looking ahead with the question of what to do with the kids. I have three kids under the age of 10 and they are completely full of life, which means that they can wear me out like nobodies business. Although, nothing beats watching the wonder in their eyes as they discover new things and places. That alone is a huge component of what keeps the creativity going for what we do as a family.
A couple weeks ago, we set out on “Adventure Day”. Now just to explain it a little bit about what adventure days are; they are days where we (the parent or parents) set out from the house with a plan on what will take place, but we refuse to tell the kids. We are evil aren’t we! Well, the anticipation that you set puts them in a place of enormous expectation and they begin to realize that even the smallest of tasks can be a fun adventure.
My kids LOVE adventure day, although the suspense while they are in the car nearly drives them, and myself insane. I have 2 kids that are planners. They get up in the morning and want a bullet list of what is coming up through out the day. While we are heading out on the adventure, they work at asking questions and begin making guesses on where we will end up. Sometimes I will give them very easy suggestions, and other days I really push their mental limits for what the next step may be.
On this particular adventure day, we had the big destination in mind, but everything else was a bit from the hip. We had thoughts on what we would do, yet had not fully decided. The first stop left the kids dumbfounded and without many guesses at all, but upon entering Bagger Dave’s in Berkley, they loved this new place. Anything from the French fries, Shirley Temple Drinks, and the train that moves throughout the dining areas; they loved it all. But as soon as the check came, so did their questions about the next stop. After working our way back to Woodward Ave, they were ringing off guess after guess of what it might be, but each guess was either met with a “no” or a “yes… just kidding”. The more they would rise up with questions, the more that I would play with them, holding their suspicions at bay.
After many questions, and now nearing 696, I hear a yell from the backseat from my 9 year old son Jake, “I know where we are going.. THE ZOO!!!! Are we dad?? Are we going to the Zoo?” Once I responded with, “I am not sure”, they exploded with excitement because they saw right through me and then this lead to 3 hours of exploration.
That day at the Zoo we hit the butterfly house, the reptile house, the polar bears, and every outdoor exhibit in between. The awe and wonder that was in each of their eyes as we saw a variety of displays, and nothing could compare to having my camera on hand to capture each of these moments! It was such an amazing time to let them see the animals that excited them and having them search for animals from certain continents that they had been studying about.
Like all good times, we saw the effects of excitement, the sun, and a great deal of walking beginning to taking affect, so we started to head back. Even though we saw their energy depleting, we shared of one more stop in the adventure day and that put a little extra kick in their step.
The final stop in the adventure day was the brand new Sonic Drive-Inn for a little treat. Much to our surprise, they were running “happy hour specials”, so that was ½ off all drinks & slushies. Nothing made me happier than to find a ½ off deal! (btw.. their happy hour times are from 2-4pm everyday).
We don’t do “adventure days” every weekend but we do mix them in to have fun. Sometimes it isn’t as adventurous as the zoo, but it is just around Rochester Hills and it mixes in a treat somewhere, a stop at a park, or whatever your imagination can conjure up. It creates conversations & memories between you and your kids that will last a lifetime.
The next weekend or day off that you have, think of a few things that you and your kids might enjoy doing together and create an adventure out of it. Those days will stick with them forever.
Bryan Willmert can be summed up as a husband, a dad of 3 kiddos, an artsy techie thinker creative who is a web 2.0 junkie.. who is an avid Chicago bears, cubs, blackhawks, bulls & Minnesota twins fan..
Bryan writes for his blog Soul Excursion (www.soulexcursion.com), runs his own start up company called Edooce, works full time as a Creative Producer for Kensington Community Church and is always dreaming. You can follow him on Twitter @bryanwillmert and @edooce.