Playing Hooky With Our Kids
When we were kids, we played hooky from school every now and then. Aw, admit it. But as parents, we are hard wired to scoot our kids dutifully off to school each day. But what happens if we play hooky from work, have our kids play hooky from school, and we all spend a day doing something fun together?
First, the adult in this author must specify that family hooky days should not occur often (probably no more than once per school semester). When hooky days do occur, parents need to specify that breaking rules is generally not acceptable behavior, that education is essential and to be respected, and that this hooky stuff is not going to be a common occurrence. Then, parents can provide their kids with a reason that the hooky days, when they do happen, are a good thing. For example, “We want you to know that we don’t like breaking rules, and we think it’s so very important to take your education seriously, but your dad and I have had loooooong days at work lately, including weekend work, and we have missed our time with you. So, we are going to play hooky tomorrow and spend some quality time together as a family. Ok?” By setting the stage as such, parents can reinforce the traditional boundaries while allowing for the benefits of the rare exception.
On hooky days, plan fun activities that will encourage family bonding. Take a road trip to a beautiful nature park, go horseback riding, have a picnic, walk a wooded trail, share a family appreciation for the beauty of nature. Or tour various museums, appreciating the art, discussing what life as a dinosaur must have been like, etc. Eat at a fun family restaurant. Shop a mega mall. Pop in a favorite CD and have the whole family sing along during your drive time. Watch a nurturing, family-friendly movie in a theatre or in your home. Don’t forget to pop the popcorn! At the end of the day, tell your kids how much you loved spending the day with them . . . hug them and tell them that you love them. Then, you can briefly state that it’s back to regular life tomorrow. (Make sure you say that with a smile and a positive tone of voice.)
Everybody needs a little deviation from routine every now and then. By playing hooky on rare occasions, all the while reinforcing traditional boundaries (i.e., the value of education and following rules), families can reap the benefits of playing hooky.
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