Look To the Western Sky

A blog about single life as a parent & the dreams of a writer by Margo L. Dill

Category: having fun

Spending Quality Time With Your Little Ones

(contributed article)

Whether you’re a single parent or not, life with kids is busy and hectic, but also full of fun and adventure, too. It’s crucial that you’re in a great routine with your little ones, so that they feel happy and secure, and they know what to expect. However, sometimes the routine can overtake the fun stuff; and spontaneity can get pushed aside, replaced with homework, dinner time, and bedtime. Therefore, when it comes to the weekends or school holidays, it’s time to step away from the rut and make an effort to enjoy more quality time with your children as they grow up, which will happen way too fast. There is definitely no harm in mixing things up a little and making some great memories together.

During the free time with your little one, it’s your chance to teach and educate them about all the stuff they don’t learn at school. Perhaps it’s about getting outside and appreciating the environment more or a trip to where you grew up, so they can learn more about their family history. Whatever you choose to do, it will be time well spent. Therefore, it’s worth thinking about how best to spend your free time, writing a list of places you’d like to visit and things you want to do and going over in your mind the values you want to instill in your kids. Sometimes, getting it all down on paper and writing a to-do list can help you implement activities and make them happen. The following are some tips for busy parents who want to focus more on spending quality free time with their kids.

Time Management

As previously mentioned, it’s tough to juggle life and all the things that kids bring with them; but with a little planning, your time can be divided up successfully. If you co-parent with an ex-partner and had the best law firm for divorce, you’ll already have figured out the exact times and dates you’ll have with your kids, well in advance. This is great for your plan; you can utilize a large monthly calendar and start popping down the things you’re going to do, how much it may (or may not) cost, and any details needed to make each fun activity work out. Whatever your parenting situation may be, you can still utilize a plan like this,  which while having fun, will also help you think about those needs kids have, such as napping and healthy choices for meals. 

Appreciate The Little Things

Kids might not remember the exact zoo, park, or fun fair you took them to, but they’ll remember how they felt at the time and specific things you’ve done or said to them. Therefore, make sure that you’re praising them for great behavior, noticing the little things they do and say, and take loads of photos! Even on an average morning, when everyone’s trying to eat breakfast and get ready for school, make it a moment to remember and take a picture. Your kids know how much you love them, so give them plenty more memories to take into their future and show their kids.

How do you like to spend time with your kids or grandkids? Do you have a list of stuff you want to do this spring and summer?


5 Ideas for More Family Bonding Time in 2018

Family time is essential for building relationships and aiding communication between parents and children. But how should you spend that time? Here are some ideas.

Getting Active

Staying active and healthy is essential for children and adults, so doing something physical with your family is a good idea. There are all kinds of things you can choose from; and when you’re getting active, it’s the perfect time to bond with your children. You could go for a long bike ride in the countryside, for example. Or you could take on an adventure obstacle course or a family kickball game. You might also want to encourage enthusiasm towards sports they love at school. Maybe your kids love basketball or baseball and play for the team. Practicing at home with them and even getting all the gear, such as youth baseball uniforms and equipment, could not only help you bond as a family, but also increase their love of and dedication to  extracurricular activities.

Doing Something They Love with Them

Every child has certain hobbies and interests that their parents don’t really understand. Maybe they like a particular computer game that you know nothing about or a pop star whom you’ve never heard of. It doesn’t matter what their interest is; it’s always a positive thing for you to learn more about it and take an interest in it. So, why not spend your family time getting to know your child’s interests and doing what they love? It shows that you’re interested in the things that they’re interested in. And, you never know, it might be fun.


Getting back to nature and spending some time in the great outdoors is a good way to spend time with the family. Camping gets you away from all the distractions of everyday life. If you’re in a remote location, you’ll probably have trouble getting a phone signal, and you won’t be able to use the internet–get disconnected. That’s a great thing when you want to really spend time with your family. You’ll all be forced to work together and create your own fun and activities. This is rare in our digital age, so go for it! If you don’t want a big camping adventure, you can always set up a tent in the backyard, which will satisfy those young kids in your family! 

Board Games

Board games might seem a little old-fashioned and out of date these days, that’s why they’re not played sometimes, with all the electronics around. Board games are as fun and enjoyable as they always were. It might take a bit of extra persuading to get your kids to put down the games console controller, but it’s worth it. It’s all about competing and having fun. Once the family gets involved and takes part, they’ll quickly see how much fun they can be.

Something Fun but Educational

There’s nothing wrong with doing something that will teach your children. But if the family time is educational, try to make sure it’s fun too. Luckily, this is not too difficult. There are lots of very interesting museums that are educational but also manage to appeal to young children. Do some research and find out what the best museums in your local area are. Many times the websites for these places will have special sections for children and/or planning a family visit. 

I hope some of these ideas help you manage to spend more quality time with your family in the new year.

(contributed article)


Which Toys Can Help With Physical Development?

contributed article

photo above: Fun with friends. Image source

Living in a digital age puts a lot of pressure on parents to help their children develop safe and effective online skills. Coding is the new hot subject at many schools. Kids seem to know more about the world thanks to the explosion of easy-to-access information out there. But aren’t we forgetting something? All that time spent in front of a screen used to be the time we spent out in the backyard when we were kids. Will the children of today struggle with physical development?

There are plenty of great (better than when we were kids) toys out there that can be used to help your little one physically develop. Most children are naturally active; so if you have something they can ride or kick or throw, they’ll be keen to use it. In fact, many of these toys can help them develop mentally and emotionally as well. For example, a fast-moving ball is heading in a particular direction. Your child has to recognize that and predict where it will end up to reach it in time. In many activities, teamwork plays a big part here, too, helping to develop friendships and cooperation.


From the moment they can walk, you can provide a wealth of different toys to help your little one improve their balance. A good trike for a 3-year-old can help a child develop pedaling skills too. Steering needs to be practiced and can be learned by trial and error. What’s really great about kids moving on wheels is the role play that can go with it. As an example, children can become mailmen and bring you a parcel!

Once your children have mastered the art of pedaling and balancing, they might be ready for a proper bicycle. Cycling together is a fun way for the family to spend time together. It keeps you all fit and develops balance well, too. Best of all, it helps to tone every part of the legs!

Trampolines are excellent for developing strong core muscles and leg strength. Recognizing the relationship between effort and result is important here. Bouncing around is a lot of fun for children, and this activity burns a lot of calories too! Bouncing on a Pogo stick requires balance as well as strength and coordination to bounce. Of course, a space hopper might be an easier place to start!

Have you ever used a swingball set? This is tennis for a small place. It can be played with two people or practiced alone. Either way, it can be lots of fun and a great way to spend more time with the kids. Best of all, it hones the hand-eye coordination and builds strength in the arms. To build strength in both arms, a child can play on some monkey-bars or use a climbing frame in the garden. If you’re nervous about your child climbing, layout some play mats underneath.  Toys in the garden that help your child to increase their physical activity can be great for physical development too. You don’t need a lot of room, although you might need to supervise quite closely!

What do you get up to with your kids in the backyard?


Having Fun With Your Kids

Say what? Why is having fun important? Besides providing meals, clothing, shelter, and education plus taking our kids to the dentist, doctor, and school, we should also have fun? Yes!

This post is inspired by our activities over the weekend and my subsequent thoughts. I’m being a little silly because of course, you know that having fun with your children is important. But let’s also be realistic–a lot of parenting is not fun. Even the things kids think are fun, like children’s museums, playgrounds, cartoons, are not fun for the parents–not really anyway. 🙂 You probably wouldn’t choose to go to the pumpkin patch with  face painting and bouncy houses if it weren’t for your kids. That’s all I’m saying.

Katie just before BINGO

But on Saturday and more and more, Katie and I are finding activities that we both enjoy, that we both have fun with, and that we are doing together.

I was thinking about how much parents adore and treasure those little newborn babies up until they can walk and talk and have to be entertained. Then there are a lot of parenting challenges to face every day–potty training, tantrums, 3 meals a day, bath, fights over bedtime, etc. But at 6,  I feel Katie is the most fun ever because now she can participate in activities that I actually enjoy, and we can do them together. Over the weekend, we played…B-I-N-G-O.

We were at a small festival for our community, and one of the activities was Bingo. I might not have encouraged her to play if it wouldn’t have been so hot outside; but because it was, and I wanted a break from the heat, we wandered into the school and found ourselves in a Bingo game with prizes–food prizes, like popcorn, candy, potato chips, cake mixes, and more.  What fun! We laughed; Katie almost cried until she won a game; we smiled; we got excited; we made jokes. We enjoyed ourselves–both of us.

This has happened a few other times this summer, where we were both engaged in what we were doing, and it wasn’t just me the parent watching her the kid doing something.

I encourage you, especially if you are a parent of an elementary school -aged kid or above, to find those activities for your family right now, too. Maybe it’s a mutual game you like to play. Maybe it’s a painting class. Maybe it’s a show on television (we also love to watch Masterchef).

And I know it doesn’t seem possible to love your child any more than you did when he or she first was born. But I swear, I love her more and more every day. I just love her little personality, the way she looks at the world, her hopes and dreams, her creativity, and it makes me excited as a parent, which is what gets us through all the times when we are wondering how we will ever manage to do this parenting gig.

What activities do you enjoy doing with your child?