The integration of technology into our daily lives has made us all used to looking at screens. Parents are working long hours and kids are logging on earlier than ever. It can be hard to get kids away from their devices, which can lead to a disconnect as a family. Here are three fun family activities to help your kids get out of cyberspace and into the real world.
1. Take pictures
Cameras are everywhere these days, and taking a great photo has never been easier. Since pictures are so important in our daily lives, it can be stimulating for your children to create their own.
Teaching your kids how to take a great photo – composing the shot, getting the right lighting, etc. – can be a fun way to bond. And if you don’t know how to take one yourself, you can share the experience of learning together. Once everyone is comfortable with their camera, set one night a week to share photos among yourselves. You could even vote for the best instant, with the winner getting to choose the family’s next outing or dessert the next day.
Disposable cameras are making a comeback with younger generations and are a simple and affordable option to start taking photos. However, they do not have the advantage of displaying your photos immediately. Instead, a kids phone could allow your children to develop their creative eye while safely exploring their surroundings. Like a typical smartphone, these devices have a built-in camera, but they limit access to social media, games, or web browsing.
You can go further and “gamify” photography with a treasure hunt! Ask your children to find and take pictures of five different types of plants, for example. You can even hide items from them in advance and reward them with a small prize. Photo scavenger hunts are an easy way to engage your family and get them exploring.
2. Get out the board games
For some, the question “Do you want to play a game?” could trigger horrible childhood memories of endless Monopoly marathons. But board games come in every style and theme you can think of and are the opposite of boring. There are classic Eurogames like Settlers of Catan, deck-building games like Dominion, and even eco-friendly strategy games like Photosynthesis. With a multitude of options available, you can surely find a game that suits your family’s interests.
Plus, board games are more than just fun. They provide documented health benefits that continue into old age. Board games work both the left and right sides of the brain, but your kids are unlikely to realize that they’re exercising their minds. They are going to have so much fun! But you never know – they could become the next Bobby Fischer.
Browse through one of the many online guides that list and rate various games and see what catches your eye. Want an easy game for all ages? Something tactile like Mancala or Connect 4 is perfect for young children. How about an epic strategy game? In Scythe or Tapestry, you can build a new civilization if you are able to outmatch and negotiate your rivals.
Board games can challenge your family to grow intellectually and socially. It can be easy to underestimate the connection created by good old-fashioned entertainment. So dust off that chess set and stir up your family’s competitive spirit!
Dinner is often the default time to connect with family. But what about anything that comes before you eat? A great way to turn dinnertime into an intentional shared experience is to cook with your kids. The extra time spent together can be invaluable – and a relief if the parents are usually the ones doing the work.
Cooking is an essential life skill that everyone should learn. Not only is it necessary for nourishment, but it teaches patience, discipline and responsibility. Learning to cook early in life will even boost your children’s self-esteem. Ultimately, it will develop their character and help them become more complete human beings.
And on top of all that delicious character-building goodness, you’ll also get more help in the kitchen. Keep in mind that it may be slow at first. Your kids will need to learn the ropes if they’ve never cooked before. But be patient, and you might be amazed at how quickly they pick up cooking skills. One day they might cook a meal for your family themselves!
Create the expectation of dinner as part of the day when you spend time together as a family. Explore your collective tastes by preparing dishes from different cuisines, such as pizza, pho or shepherd’s pie. The only limit is your imagination (and maybe some exotic ingredients). By cooking together, you could deepen your family bond while empowering your child at the same time. And don’t forget that doing the dishes can also be a learning opportunity!
Take the time to log in
With the ubiquitous presence of screens in everyday life, it’s easy to detach as a family. It is therefore important to plan time together. These activities will help you spend this time in fun and creative ways that can strengthen your family bonds. You can even create new traditions for generations to come.