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Stir Crazy


Dear Parent,

These are tough times. At home. Dangers lurking outside. Schools closed. Chapped hands. Rationed toilet paper. Missed paychecks. Too much time. Too few ideas. Kids need things to do.


This can drive you STIR CRAZY!


Almost 30 years ago I compiled a list of 365 things for dads to do with their daughters. The result was the little book, How to Be Your Daughter’s Daddy. Later Ken Sutterfield and I created another 365 ideas for dads and sons. That book was entitled, How to Be Your Little Man’s Dad. John Trent and I teamed up to make a list of 365 things for husbands to do to express love for their wives. That one was called, How to Be Your Wife’s Best Friend. Then our wives, Cay Bolin and Cindy Trent, wrote, How to Be Your Husband’s Best Friend with an additional 365 ideas.

I’ve culled through these little books, rewritten, updated, and modified numerous ideas, and want to share them with you - and anyone looking to get through one more day with children at home. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll make available five ideas from these books. You can get them in a variety of ways:

  • SUBSCRIBE and I’ll e-mail you the ideas every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning

  • Social Media – like the Refueling in Flight page on Facebook.


  • Please feel free to share these with your friends. Remember, the days go slow, but the years go fast. View these challenging days as gifts and use them wisely.

Psalm 127:4 says, Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Those arrows will soon be shot away from you to make an impact elsewhere. Sending them with power and on the right trajectory requires an intentional investment of time and training. Make lemonade out of lemons. Use these days wisely to invest in the next generation.


Dan Bolin

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These ideas have been rewritten and modified but most have been taken from: 

  • How to Be Your Daughter’s Daddy – Dan Bolin 

  • How to Be Your Little Man’s Dad – Dan Bolin and Ken Sutterfield 

  • How to Be Your Wife’s Best Friend – Dan Bolin and John Trent 

  • How to Be Your Husband’s Best Friend – Cay Bolin and Cindy Trent 

Friday May 22

Spending time as a family, learning new things, exploring life, and enjoying God’s love enriches our lives. I hope you have enjoyed STIR CRAZY. We wrap up this blog with a few bonus ideas to help you engage family, life, and the Lord in fun and meaningful ways. I hope STIR CRAZY has helped you get through these difficult, yet special days.  

Please stay connected through Refueling in Flight’s weekly devotional blog. Thanks for participating in STIR CRAZY and have a wonderful summer.

  • Explain why the US Flag had 50 stars and 13 stripes.   

  • Play balloon volleyball across a couch or line of chairs. 

  • Set aside an appropriate amount of money and together select a charity or charities you want to support. 

  • Have comedy night. Each person tells 3-5 of their favorite jokes or riddles. 

  • Plan a round-the-world trip. Pick five places you don’t want to miss.   

    Five bonus ideas for our last week....

  • Polish everyone’s shoes.

  • Create a mini golf-course throughout your house.

  • Memorize the 23rd Psalm together.

  • Make pancakes in the shape of each person’s initials.

  • As a family - pick five words that best describe these past two months.


  • Play Name that Thing. Select a common object and take turns imagining it as something similar. (Cooking spoon becomes a guitar, a hairbrush, a hammer, drumstick, etc.) 

  • Look through your wedding pictures as a family and tell the children about the event. 

  • Learn the names of the planets of our solar system – in order.  

  • Give every family member $10,000 of imaginary money. Each person invests in the stock market and each week, see whose investments have gone up or down. 

  • Explore why your state, county, city, and street received their names. 


  • Write a one-act play, gather props and costumes and then perform it. Send a video to family and friends. 

  • Draw a family tree and explain your family relations as far back as possible.   

  • Together, learn the history behind the National Anthem.  

  • Make a get-well card for someone you know who is sick. 

  • Together, design your dream house. 


  • Tell them stories about your grandparents or any interesting ancestors. 

  • Identify each of the trees you can see around your house. Learn what makes them unique. 

  • Review the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and decide what one fruit is most evident in each person’s life. 

  • Have each person write a letter of appreciation to a company that makes a product that they like. See which companies respond to your letters.  

  • Learn the name of all the Oceans, and maybe some other seas and major bodies of water.  


  • Write letters to grandparents or other relatives. Teach them how to address an old-fashion envelope and where to put the stamp.  

  • Do a crossword puzzle together. 

  • Smear shaving cream on the bathroom mirror and draw pictures with your fingers. 

  • Memorize the Books of the Bible. 

  • Make pancakes with red food coloring. 


  • Pick a country or state you have never visited and learn 10 things about it.

  • Learn the names of all the shapes from the three-sided triangle to the 10-sided decagon.  

  • Memorize a famous poem together.

  • Take apart an old or broken toy and learn what made it work. 

  • Teach them to draw a CIRCLE PIG.


  • Create a timeline of major date and events in your family's history. Put pictures and dates in sequence around another room. 

  • Hold a newspaper scavenger hunt. Create a list of 20-30 items that could be found in a newspaper (weather report, picture of a baseball player, advertisement for toothpaste, etc.) See who finds the first or the most in a set time. 

  • Cook mom breakfast in bed. 

  • Make paper airplanes. Decorate them and give them names. See whose has the best accuracy and/or distance. 

  • Make a family time capsule with coins, pictures, newspaper headlines, and other memorabilia this time in history. Seal them in a jar to be open in 10-years.


  • Create a timeline of major dates and significant events in world history. Put pictures and dates in sequence around a room.  

  • Finger paint with pudding.  

  • Write a letter to your state or federal representative about an issue that is important to your family.  

  • Take turns telling stories by whistling them. Start with the Three Bears. 

  • Play ‘Alphabet Categories’. Pick a category such as cities, sports, foods, movies, or fish. Start with ‘A’ and take turns thinking of subcategories for each letter of the alphabet. (Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland, Dallas . . .) 


  • Write letters to the authors of books your children enjoy. Send it to the author in care of his or her publishing house.

  • Read the weather reports from the cities where friends and relative live.  

  • Create an obstacle course throughout your house and time each person around the chair, over the bed, under the table, and beyond! 

  • Play ‘Adjectives’. Pick any item and each person adds an adjective to the total string until someone loses track. The car is green / the car is fast and green / the car is shiny, fast and green / the car is old, shiny, fast and green/ etc.  

  • Fill clean rubber gloves with Kool-Aid or similar drink, put it in the freezer overnight and enjoy a giant popsicle.  


  • Develop some key questions. Have each person conduct a phone interview with a grandparent, cousin, aunt or uncle and then report to family what you learned. 

  • As a family, work to clean one room in the house each day. 

  • Turn one room into a virtual zoo with stuffed animal and pictures. 

  • Memorize the names of former presidents. 

  • Let your kids record the ‘sorry I can’t take your call’ message on your cell phones.  

    Send a bag of sunshine to a friend or neighbor! Gather all items 'yellow' on your next grocery pickup. Snacks, games, candy, lotion, candles, chapstick. You get the idea - turn lemons into lemonade! Click to see SHORT VIDEO for inspiration. Free printables included! Have fun getting creative.  DOWNLOAD FREE PRINTABLES


  • Have each person select a few pieces of clothing to donate to a local thrift shop. 

  • Hold an on-line art fair. Have each family member create some pieces of art, take pictures of each piece, price them reasonably and send the pictures to family and friends. Consider ‘free with a donation to a favorite charity’.  

  • Make a list of all the people your family loves – and a list of the people who love your family. 

  • Estimate lengths. Each person guess how wide the coach is, how tall the ceiling is, how long the hall is, and other household items – with a tape measure, check who is most accurate.   

  • Create a family calendar with all the important dates of the coming year. 


  • Play “City-State-Country”. Say the name of a city, state or country and have the others guess which it is. 

  • Go on-line to hear barnyard animal noises. See who can best replicate each animal sound. 

  • Safely go outside at night and look for the moon. Research what the words ‘waxing’ and ‘waning’ mean. 

  • Together learn to tie several common knots – surgeons knot, bowline, square knot, clove hitch and others. 

  • Have each person make lists of their favorite, color, food, book, movie, song, Bible verse, restaurant, or other items. Other family members guess what each person wrote. 


  • Look through a toy catalogue and everyone tells which toys they like the most – and why 

  • Teach your kids to tie a tie 

  • Don’t use the dishwasher – wash, dry, and put away the dishes together 

  • Have everyone share about the most important person they have met (outside of your family). 

  • Research together and learn the details of the Last Supper and Easter morning.



  • As a family, look through your high school annuals and tell about interesting events and friends 

  • Play 20-Questions. One person thinks of a person, place, or thing. Everyone else asks questions that must be answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. 20 questions maximum per item 

  • Read aloud stories of heroes and talk about the life qualities you each admire 

  • Have each family member write notes to all the others telling what they like about them  

  • Learn the meaning behind each person’s name. 


  • Make a poster-board collage of your family’s story using pictures from old magazines and catalogues

  • Have a miniature marshmallow roast using a candle, toothpicks and miniature marshmallows 

  • Have a five-minute sock war – 10 rolls of socks each 

  • Work together to assemble a model airplane, boat, or car 

  • Pretend you won $10,000,000. Decide what you would do with the fortune 


  • Look up a new word in a dictionary or on-line. See who can use it in a sentence. 

  • Use a globe or map to discover where friends live, where world events are happening or where they want to live someday 

  • Camp out in the living room – tent and all 

  • Stay up late watching old westerns with you 

  • Practice a family fire-drill – make sure everyone knows what to do in case of a real fire 


  • Design next year’s family Christmas card 

  • Make admiral’s hats out of newspaper 

  • Tell them stories about something that happened to you when you were their ages 

  • Teach them to play checkers or chess 

  • If they are old enough, have the kids plan, cook, and clean-up one meal while parents takes a break 


  • Learn the names of all your children’s dolls and stuffed animals.  

  • Write a family newspaper (complete with your family’s headline news, sports, weather, and cartoons). Then send it to family and friends. 

  • Teach them to spin a basketball (or any ball) on their fingers. 

  • Learn to count to 10 in a new language (or several new languages) 

  • Teach the kids to polish and shine their shoes (and hire them to polish yours) 

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