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32 [Nearly Free] Ways to Be a SPARKY Parent!

I just finished reading Roald Dahl’s book, Danny, the Champion of the World, with Xander. It’s a story about a father and son and their adventures in poaching. While it’s not a topic that necessarily thrilled me, what I took from the story was that the boy in the story loved his father. He admired him, respected him, and genuinely enjoyed their time together. And what I loved most of all came at the very end, after the whole story was done. This was the final page of the book :

Danny, the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl

And that really stuck with me. In the end, our kids just want us to have fun with them. More than showering them with toys and pushing them to excel in either school or sports, they just want to play. And shouldn’t they be allowed to?

I love that in the book the father and son had adventures that were so simple. They didn’t cost any money — they were actually very poor — but wow, did they just light up during their time together.

Photo from 2017, reading a pile of books from the library!

So often I find myself so caught up in the daily grind. I become STODGY. The dishes need to get done. Homework folders need to be sorted through. Dinner is just on the horizon. Oh look at that laundry basket full of clean clothes that need to be folded and put away. And did you remember to grab a gift for so-and-so’s birthday party this weekend? Sometimes I look up and realize that I’ve lost the MAGIC.

I’m not saying we should abandon our responsibilities and live life on the edge all the time. It’s not realistic. But trying to incorporate a little bit of SPARK into our lives can go a long way. Especially when it comes to making memories with our kids.

Trying new foods with Xander on a mother-son date

That page in the book got me thinking about when I’ve been a *SPARKY* parent with my kids. And it encouraged me to find more moments that I could start adding in a little more magic — or play — with them. Here are some things I’ve done to ignite some spark with my children:

  1. One-on-one dates (a picnic, getting frosty + fries, going to a coffee shop and playing Codenames together)
  2. Sleepovers
  3. Build a fort in the living room
  4. Take movie night to the next level with themed snacks
  5. Let them bring a salamander home when they find one in the woods
  6. Eat ice cream for dinner in the summer (once in a while, okay?!)
  7. Play flashlight tag inside after it gets dark
  8. Ride bikes with them
  9. Do the don’t-touch-the-ground-obstacle-course at the playground with them
  10. Have a “blackout” night where you pretend you don’t have any electricity. Just see what kind of activities transpire!
  11. Get a pile of picture books from the library and have a read-a-thon
  12. Start a tradition like making homemade soup every Sunday
  13. Walk some nature trails
  14. Jump on a trampoline with them
  15. Have a Nerf-gun, water balloon, or snowball fight
  16. Go sledding
  17. Devote some time just talking with them. No phone. No TV. Just sit and chat.
  18. Create a challenge you can tackle together (one that I’ve done is trying to beat our fastest one-mile times)
  19. Get a parent/child journal and fill it in together
  20. Build Legos
  21. Make a stop-motion video with the Legos (Mark did this!)
  22. Have a dance party in the living room and take turns picking the songs
  23. Help them start a lemonade stand when they want to
  24. Skip stones
  25. Wade in a creek
  26. Celebrate their half birthday (we let them pick out any cereal they want ’cause Mom won’t normally buy cereal with more than 4g of sugar 😜)
  27. Catch snowflakes on your tongue
  28. “Be a kid” for an afternoon with them (
  29. Drive to the highest point near you and watch the sunset
  30. Sleep in the backyard with them (admittedly, Mark does this, not me.)
  31. Play Triple Threat (also known as Salad Bowl)
  32. Engage in a random game that they make up (for us, it’s kicking balls on our garage roof and trying to catch them when they come back down)

I specifically asked my kids this morning what some of their favorite memories with us as parents were and my daughter immediately said “DATES!” And they’re always asking for sleepovers, so those items were at the top of the list. I want to do more of these! I’d love to hear what moments of magic YOU create with your kids. Leave them in the comments below and share the inspiration! Let’s help each other become a little less stodgy and a little more sparky!

Photo by Natalie Curry – add some SPARK in your life! 🙂

from a mom who’s searching for more sparkyness,


Intentional Living, Parenting




32 [Nearly Free] Ways to Be a SPARKY Parent!

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