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One summer, our kids decided they wanted to start their own club.
A secret club.
“One that only has kids allowed Mom — you can’t come in, okay?“
It’s one of those times as a parent when you’re excited for the creativity and independence but also a little skeptical about the motive 😉
Since parents have their own little secrets, I thought it was time for the kids to bond a little and this club might be just the thing they needed.
Little did I know it was just the thing I needed too!
When I began The $0 Summer: 105 Free Activities that Make Awesome Memories series earlier this summer, I knew I wanted to include the idea of a summer club for kids.
Because some of the memories we have from our childhood are created with our siblings & peers — having an awesome summer and finding fun things to do is something that kids can create on their own too.
Before we get into the details of starting a club (and the fun printables I have for you!), let me recap a brief conversation I had with our kids —
Me (to the oldest child): So does this starting a club thing mean that you’re going to boss your sister around?
Oldest Kid: No Mom, we both want to do this.
Youngest Kid: It’s both of our club and I get to know the secret handshake!
Me: I’m ok with it as long as you both cooperate — no fighting — and let any kid join the club, okay?
Oldest Kid: Oh that’s fine — just no adults! And no reading our secret notes either!
Me: (smiles) Ok, deal!
I knew this would be good for them — my kids are 6 years apart so I’m all for things that they want to do together. But I did want to voice my opinion about it not being an exclusive club and that it should be a place where they both worked together.
3 Things Kids Learn When Starting a Club
Ha! They thought it was all for fun but starting a ‘secret’ club takes some work too.
1. Cooperation & Negotiation
One of the projects they really wanted to do was create a flag for their club. So we ripped up an old white t-shirt to give them a ‘proper’ cloth they could use to create a flag. I gave them some Fabric Markers (this affiliate link shows you the ones we love!) along with a piece of cardboard they would work on and sent them outside.
Then came the discussion ….
…. which lasted for a very long time.
What should be put on the flag? Who’s going to draw it? What colors do we use? How can we hang it up?
So many things to consider — and discuss — and disagree about along the way.
But I was really proud of them. They weren’t fighting about it, just discussing what they both liked and didn’t like.
This is where parents need to ‘stay out of it’. The only way kids will learn negotiation skills and how to cooperate is if they’re given a chance to work things out with their peers.
And yes, the flag does warn that “Tresspassers will be bitten by spider” That’s one way to be sure that Mom won’t visit 🙂
From making the flag to coming up with a secret handshake and password, creativity rules! You’ll hear a lot of thinking outside-of-the-box with projects like this.
Your kids will surprise you with their thinking!
They’ll mention things you had no idea they knew about!
(not that you should be listening but ‘kid whispers aren’t always on the quiet side)
And best yet, they will be very proud of what they accomplish.
3. Even Fun is Hard Work sometimes
Boy were they tired that first day!
I think all the creating and cooperating really took at lot of energy on their part. And honestly, I thought they would head to bed that night and forget all about the club; that it would be a fleeting idea.
But it wasn’t.
They kept coming back to do things for the club — design more of the flag, talk about how complicated their secret handshake would be and set up & decorate the clubhouse (which was inside our playset).
Sometimes it would be the first thing they did after breakfast, other days they wouldn’t mention the club at all.
Their dedication lasted more than a month.
There was an unspoken persistance about it — they knew it was work but it was something they both enjoyed and wanted to do. Talk about a life lesson!
To inspire kids to start their own club, here are some fun & free printables!
This free printable ‘Start Your Own Club’ packet includes:
1) A Sign for the Clubhouse — kids can choose a name and decorate the crest for their club.
2) A Fill-in Map — it’s always fun to let others know how to get to the clubhouse. Kids can also make their own graphic map too.
3) Secret Club Stuff — where kids can keep track of any secret passwords, handshakes, etc.
4) Fort Rules sheet — so kids can decide if they are going to have any rules (like No Parents Allowed 🙂
Download all four pages of the Kids’ Club printables here!
And how about three more reasons for the kids to start a club —
3 Things Parents will Learn from a Kids’ Club
Believe me, this club stuff isn’t all for the kids — I learned a thing or two that month!
1. You are no longer the center of their lives
This can be a hard adjustment. One second they are next to your side every minute of the day and the next, they’re telling you that they don’t want you around.
But it’s all part of raising kids — that independence won’t happen if they are always relying on their parents to do this for them. And if there’s any hope of raising self-sufficient, independent kids, you gotta start sometime.
2. How to hold your tongue
You don’t know how many times I wanted to make a suggestion to make things easier for them.
Like ‘how about using a blanket for your club snack instead of trying to carry the craft table & chairs out to the yard?‘
Or ‘why don’t you work on your flag in the shade instead of under the hot sun?’
But I didn’t — I held my tongue and went on with my day.
If they asked for my opinion or help, than I was happy to oblige. Otherwise, I was as quiet as a mouse.
3. ‘Me’ time is a pretty good thing
Sometimes you don’t realize how much you need some downtime as a parent.
And not necessarily time away from the kids — it’s more like time without someone constantly saying “Mom, Mom, Mom…” or asking for help while you’re trying to do something for yourself (like shower!).
Over those few weeks of ‘club meetings’, I was able to finish a few house projects without interruption (they really go so much quicker), read some of the magazines that I enjoy and bake without dodging kids running through the kitchen.
It’s the little things in life, right?
And one of the BEST things that came out of the kids starting a club (well, besides the fact that I could see they were bonding) — my husband and I shared stories about some of the fun things we did when we were younger.
The kids got a kick out of hearing that we would ‘break the rules’, go exploring and do a few secret things of our own. Family bonding at its best!
Have your kids ever started a club?
MORE CREATIVE ACTIVITIES:
Make Your Own Tinker Box & Build Robot Puppets
15 Fall-themed Texture Art Projects
7 Items that Inspire Creativity