Sometimes spending time with our kids involves engaging in activities we’d rather not be doing. Like, let’s be honest, crouching down to their level, pretending we really are listening, or pretty much anything arts and crafts adjacent.
Keeping in mind our creaky knees and glitter ban, here are six ways to spend time and engage as a family that parents will actually enjoy:
DIY Scavenger Hunt
When my kids whine about being bored for the 200th time over the course of a Saturday, one thing that has been effective is creating a “Scavenger Hunt.” Kids tend to like anything that is turned into a competition, so you can either pit siblings against each other, or set a timer for a single child. What are they looking for? You name it. I like to make a list of random objects like “a yellow sock, a spool of thread, a takeout menu.” It can also be helpful to add in that thing you are actually looking for like “your missing baseball cleat, a healthy snack, my sanity.”
Build an Obstacle Course
Kids just love being timed, and here’s another thing you can do with that stopwatch app. (When I was a kid, my dad would pretend to time me when he sent me downstairs to get him ice cream. Why did I fall for that every time?) Anyway, you can make an obstacle course out of anything. Cardboard boxes, tables, chairs, toys. Throw in a few required jumping jacks to help tire them out. They can build the course for themselves or for each other, or you can build it for them. Maybe you are brave enough to battle the course yourself and risk twisting your ankle while stepping off a child-size stool?
Screen Time That Doesn’t Have to Be The Worst
Many families have cut the cable cord and have a hard time finding family-friendly live TV. Frndly TV offers the perfect add-on for people seeking the solution to channels they are missing like The Weather Channel, BabyFirst, and Hallmark. Starting at $5.99, it’s a great complement to your streaming solutions at an affordable price point. You can sign up for a 7-day free trial to get access to channels you may forget you were even missing like the Game Show Network (GSN).
Because when you are sick of pretending to pay attention to cartoons and tween drama shows with your kids, GSN is a family-friendly and even educational option that can actually hold an adult’s interest and help you engage with your kids! Play along with Family Feud, Cash Cab, or Deal or No Deal — and maybe you’ll find out that your 4th grader can kick your butt at trivia! Or tune into Wildlife Heroes on Outdoor Channel and get your kids excited about protecting and preserving wildlife. Then, head to the zoo so they can see some of their favorite animals in action. There are ways that screen time can lead to a positive “outside the box” real life experiences.
For this one, you may or may not be willing to let your kids make a mess. Or at least make a sandwich. Cooking with your kids can be fun – until you end up with eggshells in your omelet. But if you are willing to let your kids get a little crazy in the kitchen, you might find that they have some serious chef skills. Or more likely you will end up with a bowl of Rice Krispies mixed with Gummy Bears and cheese.
Rediscover the Joy of Bookstores or Board Game Cafes
Chances are if you suggest to your child that they go read a book or play a board game they will act as if you’ve just asked them to crawl through fire. But bring them to a book store or one of the newly popular “board game cafes,” and it’s a whole new ball game. They will be excited just looking at the range of options and maybe even leave you alone to sip a latte while reading a magazine. And the new board game cafe concept popping up across the country introduces your kids to the wonders of Operation without having to search your own home for the missing funny bone.
Volunteer As a Family
Channel your children’s boredom into good by showing them the benefits of volunteering and giving back to their communities. Volunteering with your children is an opportunity for social and emotional learning as well as responsibility and skill-building. There are plenty of opportunities to work together as a family, from stocking food pantries to planting trees to working with animals.
There are plenty of creative ideas to get out of the mind-numbing rut of couch boredom and YouTube videos. Whether it’s an at-home DIY activity, an out-of-the-house excursion, or even engaging screen time, if you can find something to do that actually excites YOU as a parent, your child will notice your active interest and everyone will have a more enjoyable experience.
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