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Old 29-04-2010, 12:37   #1
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Kids Happy on Board

How do you keep your kids happy on board? Especially if they are pretty young, too young to be given much responsibility or to be reasoned with about why they sometimes can't do what they want?
This is still somewhat academic for us, as we have no serious boat yet. Also the child is only 13 months at this point, and has loved every minute she's so far spent on any kind of boat.
But I worry that in a couple more years, it'll be difficult if she wants to be running around but it's rough and we need her to keep life-jacket on and stay sitting somewhere safe...or keep her entertained when the adults are busy with boat stuff...or just generally keep her happy if she's going to be stuck aboard awhile. (If we are to go ashore I have no concerns - that I can handle.) I am thinking if they are kept happy young, then they will "grow into" the situation and be happy floaty boat kids by the time they get old enough to really give you some grief.
So I guess the basic question is: What have you found is the most important thing to make sure little kids can be happy aboard instead of feeling bored or in the way, or worse, demanding to get back ashore to a "normal life"?
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Old 29-04-2010, 13:50   #2
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My grand father always gave me some *job to do* like polishing brass with a cloth and a bit of polish or a wet rag wiping down the whatevers. He would help me tie knots and then let me practice. When there was fishing going on I got to catch and release all the little fish I caught, after watching them swim in a bucket for a little bit. I was in charge of counting the boats we passed or the ones that passed us. We played cards. we stopped for swims. I got towed in my own big truck innertube. I held stuff for him when he was working on the engine and he showed me what he was doing. He let me sit in his lap and *steer*. I guess he just included me in the routine of the boat. and I was always happy boating with him.
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Old 30-04-2010, 09:25   #3
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kids are like puppies

kids are like puppies. Until they get in their teenager years (either dog years or people years) they are just as happy doing nothing with you as they are doing something with each other. You TELL them what to do, not the other way around. This is your chance to fill the sponge. Their little minds are like empty vessels which you fill with all the basics of life. their actions later are a direct reflection of what they learn from you. Kids that don't know the 'pleasures' of growing up in the burbs are actually ok with it since they don't know what they're missing.
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Old 30-04-2010, 15:27   #4
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a box of Lego is great (although you might want to keep it out of the bilge as it could lead to blocking pumps and drainage paths)

our kids help dousing the spinnaker while standing in the companion way

pulling the halyards/raising sails

cleating at the dock

a bit of helming

hanging feet over the edge of the deck into the water (if heeled)

they love the foredeck.. last night they made a house in a genny laying forward (if you can let go of worry about stuff)


listening to stories on an ipod
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Old 30-04-2010, 21:07   #5
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Good activities our kids like underway: Coloring books, play-dough, board games like Chutes and Ladders, building blocks, tickle wars, reading books, and Disney movies. Also topside: making a mess out of the sheets/inhaul/outhaul and then undoing the mess they made, playing with the binos (NOT Daddy's though!), waving to everyone within eyesight, cleaning the boat, practicing "boat words" and anything related to fishing.

Our kids are 2 1/2 (boy) and 4 (girl), and they haven't fully gotten into the cool things we see while underway. They think the whales/seals/porpoises are neat, but there is no wow factor for them (the play-dough is just as cool, and macaroni and cheese beats a whale any day of the week!). Not sure if they don't realize how neat these things are because they always see them, or if they aren't old enough yet to enjoy them. I think the latter.

MOST of the time, if you tell them something is really fun, they'll buy off on it and like it, too! Our kids have never said anything negative about the boat so far. We don't go crazy out there, either, though. We only sail on very short trips with no overnight sailing, stopping at "fun" places whenever possible. I think that it would be tough to overnight sail with just two adults and two kids our age. It would be for us, anyway. Usually we go on a kayak or dinghy ride after anchoring, and try to visit land where we are so they can burn energy. My opinion is you have to be realistic about what you are trying to do with little kids and above all else you have to keep it fun!!
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Old 01-05-2010, 01:07   #6
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Have another kid. That way they will amuse each other.
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Old 01-05-2010, 07:38   #7
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Have another kid. That way they will amuse each other.
Maybe that argument will work on my husband - he's not sold on the idea of more yet!
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Old 01-05-2010, 09:21   #8
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I cruised with my daughter when she was 2-4 years old from Seattle WA, to Tampa Bay FL, she's 9 now and we just left again.

As parents your job is to keep your kids safe and to make them feel safe and secure. That means you need to feel safe and have your environment under control. Then, establish clear rules, boundaries and expectations of behavior for your kids that both parents will enforce every time. This gives your kids a familiar controlled environment and where they can feel safe.

Meanwhile, teach them to be crew.
The reasons for this is
A.) People (and young children) don’t feel safe in an environment they don’t understand and are not needed.
B.) Kids want to be a part of what ever is going on in your life. They need and want your attention and if you don’t give them ways to get positive attention they normally find ways to get negative attention.

Have age appropriate expectations but make your kids a part of what you’re doing. OK, true it took me half an hour to untie all the knots when my 2 year-year-old ran the sheets, her “helping” me provision involved a lot of dock cart rides, and I re-swept the floor every time, but at 9 she’s raising sails, tying fenders and driving the boat to set and weigh anchor. It takes time, it takes energy, attention spans are short, but it is worth it.

Finally, play with your kids. Make games of what you are doing. Exploring the aft hatch is so much more fun than cleaning it. Give out little prizes. Let them feel like they earned the treat, (cookies, ice cream whatever…) that you were going to give them anyway.
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Old 16-05-2010, 13:09   #9
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Our son and daughter grew up aboard from infancy to adulthood. They had most all the childhood possibilities and anyone ashore,- 'their own stuff, their own cabins,- their own tasks. I remember taping a paper towel roll to the bow pulpit as a play sight and them taking turns at the helm during a passage,-"shooting clouds". They made snack trays; they performed plays; they played as children would ashore. 'take care and joy, Aythya crew
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