8 Ways to Connect with Your Kids When You Hate to Play
In parenting culture, admitting you hate to play can feel more scandalous than confessing you didn’t breastfeed or that you willingly give your kids juice. But we keep it real around here. And thankfully, there are countless ways to bond with your babes that don’t involve getting body-slammed while you pretend to be a comic book villain, or stuffing your body into a child-size teepee to serve invisible tea. Read on for ideas that—unlike you—aren’t totally played out.
Go grocery shopping
It’s educational (reading the list = literacy; paying = math). It’s cardio (ask anyone whose heart rate rose after losing a toddler in the cereal aisle). And if you challenge older kids to pick out a fruit or vegetable they’ve never tried before, it increases the chances they’ll actually taste it.
Family forest bath!
The soul-soothing benefits of walking slowly through the woods cannot be overstated. And experts who fear for our screen-addicted offspring are even sounding the alarm about “Nature Deficit Disorder.” So go take a hike. Seriously.
Make something messy
Yes, Marbled Oreos will blow their freakin' minds. But you don’t even need to spoil dinner to connect in the kitchen. Whether you whip up Kool-Aid-scented glitter play dough, fluffy slime (the non-toxic pre-K version of trend-tastic middle school slime) or colored shaving cream “paint”—getting messy is downright magical.
Go out on a date
Head to the diner and eat pancakes for dinner. Try the new burger place and get ice cream after. Childhood memories are made of more than playing basement air hockey with a reluctant opponent who's itching to check her work email.
Try something new together
Child psychologists tout the confidence-boosting benefits of trying new activities. So go fishing, attempt water-skiing, schedule a trial horseback riding lesson or ride a roller coaster with your kid. And celebrate the courage it took for them to break out of their comfort zone.
Show her your treasures
Kids are endlessly fascinated by family stories, heirlooms (“Ooooh, this is your great grandma’s costume jewelry…”) and albums (“See how young Daddy looked at our wedding?”). Spend time sorting through tchotchkes that are normally locked away, gathering dust.
Read to them
Not only does reading to kids from infancy “build key literacy, language and social skills,” according to the AAP; it gets you out of having to roll around on the floor pretending to be a hatching baby Pteranodon.
Play...just a little!
Some parents have found that even 20 minutes of daily, one-on-one floor time can significantly reduce tantrum frequency. So for those who can manage to meet that minimum, play on, player.