One good thing that has come from the pandemic of the past year is that more families are spending time together. Often, we let our busy lifestyles—work, housework, school, extracurricular activities, church, volunteering and more—get in the way of family time. Maybe you’ve discovered some new ways to connect with your kids over the last year. As we start back into our regular routines, remember to set aside some family time on the calendar. Here are a few simple idea for ways you can spend time with your kids.
Play a Game of Catch
There is no better way to expend pent-up energy and boredom than a good game of catch. Despite its simplicity, catch is an extremely important game as it helps children improve their hand-eye coordination. It also builds a foundation for an interest in tons of other sports including baseball, basketball, tennis, rugby and more. This is a great way to spend time with your kids outside and breathe in the fresh air when your child seems to be getting bored and antsy. Just grab your favourite ball (ours is a rugby ball!) and head to the backyard or your local part.
Sit Down and Chat
Now, this might seem a bit strange but hear me out. As your children will grow up, you’ll notice that they start to have lots of things to say. They will begin exploring and learning about their environments and the circles they exist in, their natural curiosity and interest will ignite their desire to be heard and to be taken seriously. So if your child is showing signs of boredom and has approached you, they probably need some attention and communication. In this case, sitting them down and chatting with them about whatever sparks their fancy can be a good idea.
You can even make this into a small tea or snacks party and put out some simple snacks and juice and just talk. Take chatting together further by planning a monthly one-on-one date with each of your kids, where they can talk to you about anything and everything. (Start this early—you want to make sure all the communication lines are open as they start to enter the teen years!) If you’re not sure what to ask, check out the fun questions to ask kids and take some hints from there.
Make Baked Goodies
This is one of our favourite activities! All of my kids love helping in the kitchen, right down to three-year-old Joey. If we’re having a grumpy day, one of the easiest ways to turn it around is to say, “Let’s bake!” I often get them to help choose whether we should make cookies or muffins, and what time.
Kids love to be involved in activities that make them feel “grown-up”—or let them push buttons on the mixer and sample ingredients like nuts and chocolate chips. Enlisting their help in baking will not only keep them busy and engaged, but it will also make them feel included and content. Who knows, it may even spark a passion in them. Not to mention, you’ll be able to enjoy some additional hands on deck as well. However, safety is crucial here so make sure to keep them away from the oven and any hot or harmful materials/ ingredients.
Do some DIYs
DIYs are a great way to spend time with your kids and create useful contraptions and items with materials you already have. With just a quick search on the internet, you’ll be able to find a bunch of great DIYs for children. All you have to do is pick out the most appropriate one and try it yourself. For example, my daughters love sewing with me when I pull out my sewing machine. They also had a lot of fun helping with the renovations we did around our condo this fall. They passed me tools or boards when I installed laminate flooring, and they helped repaint the walls too.
This is another great way of making your kids feel included and appreciated, as well as keeping them engaged. A great idea here is to undertake a DIY project that they can use daily or keep in their room. Projects that they can continue on their own later, by themselves are also a great idea. However, it doesn’t have to be anything too complicated either.
Read a Story Together
If you want something relaxing and calming, then reading a story together is an excellent way to spend time and relieve them of their boredom. You could read a book together, or you could tell them a story, and then you can discuss the story once it’s over. Reading and telling stories has always been a tried-and-tested method of spending time, and most people tend to become avid readers due to their time spent as children reading books with their parents. So this is a great way to inculcate a love of books in your children.
We also enjoy listening to audiobooks together. Audiobooks are often a lot of fun because an actor reads the story and does different voices for different characters. Some audiobooks even have an entire cast, with different people doing different voices. This makes them a bit easier to listen to or holds kids’ attention for longer.
Often, we pair reading aloud (or listening to audiobooks) with another activity, such as colouring or doing a jigsaw puzzle. A friend of mine reads to her kids while they play Lego. Another friend of mine reads to her kids every day at lunch. We started reading The Hobbit together just before Christmas and now we’re working on The Lord of the Rings. Usually I read while the girls colour or sketch at the table or have a bedtime snack, but sometimes we just cuddle on the couch together.
Pull Out a Board Game
Hubby and I both enjoyed playing board games, and had a large collection of games when we got married. Many of these games sat in the closet for years, as they weren’t suitable for babies or toddlers to play with. Now that we have older kids in the house, we’ve enjoyed pulling out these games again and teaching them to our kids. Board games not only let spend time with your kids and have fun together, they also teach kids many skills such as reading, math, strategy, taking turns, losing well, and more.
Lately, we’ve gotten into playing escape room games, which requires players to work together (instead of competing!) in order to escape. Escape Room the Game comes with some super cool props and is suitable for older kids. Printable escape room kits are an economical, ready-when-you-are game that is suitable for slightly younger (still school-age) kids.
Playing with multiple ages at the same time can sometimes be challenging. We have a good selection of board games for preschoolers that aren’t terribly boring for older kids. Sometimes, a younger child plays on a team with an older child or parent. And sometimes we have two games going—one parent plays a harder game with an older child(ren) and another parent plays an easier game with a younger child(ren).
What are your favourite ways to spend time with your kids?