Our three girls have a unanimous favorite when it comes to choosing a show: Bluey. And unlike pretty much all the others, it’s one that their dad and I enjoy just as much. I swear you don’t need to be a kid or even have a kid to enjoy it. It’s that good! There are so many episodes that ring true when it comes to parenting and kids…the baby race, the magic of the playground (or better yet the great outdoors), and the power of imagination.
When I took our middle daughter to Children’s Hospital last week for a round of bloodwork and X-rays, we played “magic statues” after an initial failed attempt at a scoliosis image that required zero wiggling. And when it was time to pick a sticker at the end of a long day, you better believe she went straight for the one with Bluey leaping front and center. It got me thinking of all the ways that show has reflected old traditions and brought new ones, and it also got me thinking of a few tips and tricks that may make your summer (and ours) a little more fun.
1. Play doesn’t require fancy toys. Use what you’ve got!
I can’t remember a single episode that required store-bought toys. Bingo turned a feather into a “feather wand,” making everything heavy upon command, the sisters turned a simple balloon into a game of “keep uppy,” and couch cushions have been used from everything from bridges to forts to bus stops. There is literally no end to the ways in which ordinary things you already have around the house (or the car) can be reinvented into a toy or game all its own.
2. Never underestimate the power of a good character in accent.
This one has saved me time and time again. I find when I ask a question as Mom, I get mixed responses, but when I turn on a British accent or use my “granny” voice, complete with new names, my kids are much more eager to play along and listen to directions. It seems counterintuitive, but it works in our house, so it might just work in yours too.
3. Use squabbles as teachable moments.
I love that sisters Bluey and Bingo get along well and genuinely enjoy playing together. I also love that the show’s creators put more than a few squabbles into the mix because, let’s face it, that’s real too. The parents do a great job of talking calmly, asking questions, and making suggestions that allow them to work it out between them. It can be as simple as “do you want to be right or do you want your sister to play with you?” but it always goes back to understanding where the other is coming from and working from there, and that’s a lesson that lasts a lifetime.
4. Get outside.
For a kid, there’s perhaps nothing better than summer vacation, and there’s no better time for exploring the great outdoors (or just the backyard). I find water does wonders for a bad mood, whether that’s a trip to the pool or fun with a sprinkler. We are wired to be in nature, and it offers a playground all its own with or without swing sets and monkey bars.
5. Let the kids take the lead.
Parents Bandit and Chile are rarely the ones inventing the games and imagining the shops, clinics, and offices that come to life in the living room or backyard. It’s almost always the kids! I think we often feel like we need to be on the ready with crafts and agendas for afternoons at home or playdates with friends, but really, that’s not usually necessary. It’s good for kids to be bored…it’s where creativity is born and explored. You may hear a few whines that there’s “nothing to do,” but be patient. You might just be surprised what comes next.
Perhaps more than any other lesson though, I love the focus the show puts on being present. The house doesn’t have to be tidy, the to-do list doesn’t have to be done, and the parents don’t even have to say yes all the time or to all the things. It’s about intentionally taking time to step into the world of make believe…soaking in the wonder of something as simple as a walk or as elaborate as a bus station with vet hospital stops and characters galore. It doesn’t really matter what the memory is, but when school starts up again and schedules fall back into a busy and predictable pace, I think you’ll be glad you said yes to a little more fun and spontaneity, Bluey style.