Being a single dad means wearing a lot of hats. Dad, mom, chef, doctor, teacher, coach, and sometimes when I am lucky, activity coordinator. Being in charge of the activities means I don’t have to play house, have a tea party, or pretend I am a Disney prince… all activities that I grin and bear with a smile, none of which I am particularly fond of (especially being the Prince, I keep telling her if she’s the Princess, I am the KING!)
After a while, I’ve started to figure out some ways to spend time with my kiddo while maintaining some semblance of manliness AND getting some exercise at the same time. It helps that she’s almost 5 now and is able to partake in more vigorous activities but I digress. Here are 7 great active ideas for Dad’s with little girls who like me, don’t have enough time to both play with the kiddo and get in their daily exercise!
1) Weight Lifting – Daddy Style
Daddy Style weightlifting means your weights are… your kid! It’s free, requires no travel, and it can be done right on your living room floor. My daughter loves to be bench pressed, curled, lifted, leg lifted, etc. We also take turns with sets. She tries bench pressing my arm or leg, and tests her strength. It’s a great way to teach your daughter how to exercise, and to motivate her to try harder or challenge herself. The only problem I’ve encountered in getting a real workout here is that she’s only 45 pounds. I can’t exactly mass build when benching a toddler.
2) Pretend Wrestling
This one is the easiest; and again this one’s free! Kids love to be “roughed up” as long as you aren’t actually rough at all. It’s also the perfect time to teach appropriate boundaries. We have tons of fun pretending we are boxers or professional wrestlers while we pretend to punch, block, kick, or grapple in ways that don’t hurt your “opponent”. I’ll often lift her up over my head pretending I tossed her out of the ring, while slowly lowering her to the ground and pretend shouting “nooooooo!” Gives me a little of that healthy muscle burn, and give her a laugh from being suspended in mid air.
3) Karaoke Dance Parties
This activity isn’t exactly free since it requires music… and for my reputation’s sake this can only be done if the blinds are closed. But this is one of my guilty pleasure and secretly one of my favorites.
I have a playlist on my iPod that has a ton of 80s music (with no swears of course!) sprinkled in with some Hannah Montana and a few No Doubt songs for good measure. We crank up the iPod dock and use one of her brushes as a microphone and we pretend to do concerts for her dolls, or we’ll even make up silly dance routines. I use this opportunity to dance like a maniac, bordering physical comedy. She laughs like a maniac, bordering asthma attacks. However if the general population ever saw this, there would be a lot more crying than laughing… either from me, or those watching it.
4) Playing the Wii
This might be the manliest activity on my list. What guy doesn’t like video games? Especially ones their 4-5 year old daughter likes too! When we play Wii bowling, to increase the healthy factor, we pretend to run down the isle just like real bowling and we even jump when we release the ball. It doesn’t help my accuracy much, but at least we’re getting active and having some fun.
5) Going Out “Discovering”
The outdoors can be fantastical to a child-if they have the right guide. We’ll walk down the street and I’ll help her climb random objects pretending they are something from out of this world. Sometimes we’ll find a trail and climb hills, large rocks, or small mountains and pretend we’re discovering new lands. Sometimes I’ll even let her load up her wagon with dolls and we went for a walk around the block pretending we were tour guides.
6) Target Jumping
This one is a real hit with the kids. All you gotta do is set “targets” around the house or outside. I often use my finger against a wall or a washable marker. Set your targets at various heights just near the top of your daughter’s max jumping height. Give her a route around the house, and she must touch or slap each target. If the target is too high, lower it a bit. Too low? Add another higher one. Use your watch like a stop watch and time her like it’s an obstacle course (I often make up times and keep yelling “GO GO GO! You’re Gonna Break the Record!”. 20 minutes of this and she’ll be napping in no time!
There are a bunch of variations in this game, where you can follow her around the “course” and hit your own targets, or if your daughter has friends over you can line them all up and use your finger against the wall and adjust for each of their jumping abilities. If you’re tired, just lean against the wall and set various targets with your hand or finger. If you wanna rev up, get outside and make it challenging for both of you. You’d be surprised at how much fun your little one will have with this one.
7) Tasting Parties
A tasting party is when you choose a couple of new foods (we usually do exotic fruits) and see what they taste like. I usually take my daughter to the grocery store so we can look at different fruits and vegetables to figure out which we would like to try that day. Then we take them home, wash them together, and prepare them to be served (I usually handle anything that has to do with a knife!) Then we set our plates, and take turns tasting things and explaining what they taste like. This is a perfect way to refuel after some exhausting play time AND to replace junk food snacks with healthier alternatives.
8) BONUS ACTIVITY: Take a nap!
Because both you and your kid are probably worn out now!
If anybody else knows of any other healthy activities for Dads and Daughters, comment here and let me know what YOU do. I’m always looking for new ways to bond with my kid and keep that Daddy Belly in check! Plus, this could be a good resource for people who started like me, having NO IDEA how to raise a little girl. Single dads (like me) especially could probably use a little guidance sometimes.