20 things every parent should try at least once

Wake up. Eat. Work. Eat. Go to bed. Repeat.

For being the most rewarding job in the world, parenting sure is monotonous sometimes. If you’re looking to break up the daily grind, here are 20 things all parents have to do at least once — and, as an added bonus, you’ll also become the coolest parent on the block. Mom and dad for the win!

1. Go on a late night ice cream run

Rustle the kids from their beds and go out for a treat, pajamas and all. Yes, the kids will feel sleepy the next day, but the memories are so worth it.

2. Institute backwards day

Have fried chicken for breakfast and cereal for dessert. Let everyone wear pajamas all day and clothes to bed. Turn the entire routine upside down for 24 hours.

3. Let your kids pick your clothes

Make sure nothing is off-limits, and encourage the kids to accessorize you. Pride has no place in parenthood.

4. Camp out in the backyard

See the stars from your very own lawn, and enjoy indoor plumbing at the same time.

5. Reverse roles

What would happen if, for one whole day, the kids acted like grownups and the parents acted like kids? Find out!

6. Try your kids’ favorite sports

Let your kids teach you all about skateboarding or snowboarding or lacrosse. It doesn’t matter if you’re bad at it; it matters that you let your kids play teacher for an afternoon.

7. Play hooky

School attendance is of the utmost importance, but just once in your kids’ lives, pull them from school and have a day on the town.

8. Make dessert for dinner

Call everyone for dinner and plop a huge chocolate cake on the table. Prepare yourself for serious praise.

9. Make a birthday a big deal

In addition to the normal party, fill your child’s room with balloons, send pizza to school for lunch and go to a restaurant where the waiters sing. Make a big deal out of the special day.

10. Set up a scavenger hunt

Whether it’s a race around town or limited to your own backyard, lay out clues and give the family a night to remember.

11. Take a staycation

Get to know your own town by hitting up the popular tourist destinations. You’ll never look at your home the same way again.

12. Blackout your house

Declare one old-school night without electricity. Read books, play board games and make shadow puppets by candlelight. Talk about how families lived before electricity.

13. Punk the kids

Pull a practical joke on your kids, and don’t wait for April Fool’s Day. Make it totally random and hilarious.

14. Go out for family RAK day

RAK, or random acts of kindness, are great ways for busy families to give back. Leave dollars in the dollar store toy section, put change in parking meters, leave a treat for your mail carrier or hand out chalk and bubbles at a local park.

15. Have a family talent show

Yes, the kids might moan and groan, but teach your kids to support their siblings and parents.

16. Declare a water war

Turn on the hoses, fill up some buckets and repurpose dish soap containers as low-budget water guns. Let everyone go nuts this summer.

17. Host a family dance

Let your kids help create the playlist, get everyone super dressed up, then dance the night away together.

18. “Ding dong ditch” the neighbors

Make this classic prank family friendly by leaving a plate of cookies behind.

19. Do a big service project

Host a garage sale or bake sale for charity, organize a canned food drive or take over a fundraising event at your kids’ schools. Teach your family that it takes hard work to provide for the community.

20. Have professional portraits taken

It’s a big financial burden for many families, but don’t let your kids get too big before paying for really, really good portraits at least once.

Childhood comes with an expiration date. Don’t let your kids’ childhoods pass them by without making some awesome memories. It doesn’t take a ton of planning or money for your kids to dub you coolest parent on the block, but it does take your time and intention. Start by doing something today.

Heather Hale is a fourth-generation Montanan and mom to three crazy boys. She writes with her husband, Darreck Hale, about parenting and marriage at thesecretlifeofparents.com.

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