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One of the best moments as a parent is those sweet times when you feel a connection – like your heart will just burst from love. However, modern pressures of work, screen time and busy schedules can make it hard to prioritise quality family time.
The great thing about finding time to bond as a family is that you don’t need to head out on expensive outings and grand adventures. All you need is an hour or two to get off your devices and have fun together!
Play is a great way to model values such as keeping fit and healthy, taking turns, being creative and looking on the lighter side of life. Your family will love the quality time spent together, making memories you’ll all cherish.
Go on a playground expedition
Research playgrounds you have yet to explore both close to home and outside your area (tip: check to make sure they are age-appropriate for your children). Either one-on-one with your child or as a family, aim to visit a new playground every week.
An outing to a playground is a great opportunity to let your child run off some energy while building their gross motor skills. The more they play, the more confidence they will gain in their own body, and the more prepared they will be to take risks.
There’s nothing like the delight on a child’s face when they encounter a fresh play experience and master new skills! Tick off each playground as you visit and devise a rating system to score each one.
Head out in nature
We can all do with more time spent outdoors! What better way than a nature scavenger hunt? Your whole family will benefit from the fresh air, and it’s a great way to encourage your kids to get active without even noticing they’re doing it.
For younger kids, set up a hunt in your backyard. Leave little clues filled with riddles and puzzles that they can solve before they move on to their next one. Top it off with a treat at the end from a fun family activity like a movie night with pizza or even a fun toy!
Take it up a notch for pre-teens and young teenagers by heading out to solve Geocaches, which are small caches hidden in natural and urban environments that are found by solving clues and following directions. This also teaches kids the basics of following a map and compass and can be extremely satisfying, especially after finding a particularly tricky item.
Build a city
Do you have a budding architect or engineer in your house? If your children love building railway lines with wooden tracks or creating buildings with Lego or Duplo, it’s fun to spend a rainy day indoors creating an entire city.
Aim to use all your track pieces to make the largest possible train line and then build Lego or Duplo ‘stations’ at various points along the way, and other buildings like schools, houses and shops.
Pretend city building is a fantastic collaborative play idea for the entire family. Preschoolers can increase their vocabulary, while children of any age are encouraged to be imaginative and problem-solve.
Books are a fantastic basis for imaginary play with your child – no matter their age. Every time you read to your child, make a game of playing eye-spy, looking for colours, shapes and objects.
Does your child have a picture book or book they love? Try dressing up in costume and re-enacting it. Alternatively, make up your own stories together and enjoy pretend play. If you have older children, get them involved by encouraging them to write a screenplay.
Play board games
Board games are a great way to bond with school-age children, especially now that there are so many new, collaborative ones on the market. These are great for cutting down on potential bickering.
They also encourage turn-taking and can help develop mathematical, logic and reasoning skills. Set a night once a fortnight to have a family games night and switch off the TV in favour of some good, old-fashioned fun together.
Jigsaw puzzles are a great family activity, which you can easily tailor to the age of your children. Make it extra special by turning a favourite family photo into a puzzle. There’s nothing like having to put together 10 pieces of Dad’s blue shirt!
Stretch older children with a 1000-piece puzzle that will take all day to complete – especially if the weather is inclement. It’s a great way to work together on a project, rather than being isolated by screen time.
No matter how old your children are, from toddlers to high-school students, it’s important to carve out time in your schedules to let loose and play.
Fun and laughter are essential for developing a strong relationship with your family and allow you to teach your kids important life lessons in a non-confrontational way. It’s so simple that it can easily be overlooked amongst the stresses of modern life, but when you take the time to enjoy each other’s company, the benefits will speak for themselves.
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