The Rio Olympics have begun and our house is immersed in two weeks of obscure and not so obscure sporting events. It is amazing how passionate we become every four years about swimming, water polo and gymnastics. Rarely is a thought given in the intervening years to such sports but when the Olympics roll around we are on the edge of our seats. What makes us so? Why are the Olympics so fun and interesting when so many of the sports involved have a tiny or non-existent following outside of the Olympiad? More importantly, how can we parlay this interest into some fun family time!?!
My son told me this morning that he chose to watch Olympic soccer because he knows I love the sport. He said, “I was going to choose basketball but I knew you like soccer best.” The boy loves his daddy! Of course I told him we could watch basketball but I appreciated the thought! We had a great time watching the games together while we played our own version of indoor soccer. Not every moment of the next two weeks need be scripted for great family moments to happen but a few planned ones can make great memories.
IDEAS FOR OLYMPIC FAMILY FUN:
- Choose Sports and Athletes — There are so many sports, countries and athletes and it is easy to be overwhelmed. Rather than watch all swimming events schedule your viewing around Michael Phelps. Rather than watching all women’s soccer make sure to watch when the US women play. Look at the schedule of events and make sure you never miss your favorites. This may seem obvious but with all the choices it is best to plan what to watch in order to have the best experience with the kids.
- Chart the Medals — Keep track each day of how many medals are won and by your favorite countries. Create a wall chart and put a gold, silver or bronze star next to the name of each country when they win. At the end count up the numbers of medals won by each country. This is a fun way to keep track of how well your favorite countries are doing as the games progress.
- Make a family (insert event here) Night — My daughter loves gymnastics and we have already planned a special “Family Gymnastics Night.” We will of course watch the gymnastic events but she and her brother will also perform their own events alongside mom and dad. Yes, dad will find some way to compete. Throw in some pizza alongside mom’s scoring system and you have a recipe for a lot of fun! Make sure to save your results for the end of Olympics Party.
- Have a Family Swim Meet — Who doesn’t need an excuse to get in the pool during Summer??? My kids are learning to swim and this is a great opportunity to get them in the pool and using strokes they do not naturally use. The backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle are three great great events to schedule. Let the kids race against one another and their own time. Save the results for your end of Olympics party.
- Have Your Own Olympics — Its pretty simple to set up a mat in the floor for gymnastics, use the local pool for a swim meet or the backyard for track and field. Invite the neighborhood to your house and have your own Olympiad complete with medals as well as opening and closing ceremonies. You can make things as elaborate or simple as you like. You are only limited by your imagination.
- Closing Ceremony Awards/Party — Everyone likes a party and some cake. This is a great way to celebrate the closing ceremonies in a couple of weeks. Put up some decorations, award your family medals for the winners of “family events” during the games and watch the closing festivities together.
The Olympics are a great time to teach geography, sportsmanship and the fun of competition. But more than all this they offer a break from the mundane and an opportunity for some unique family fun. Don’t miss out on your chance to enjoy the world and more than a few obscure sports with your kids!
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