How to have Fun with your Children

Research has shown that there are great benefits to a healthy relationship between parents and their children.  According to author Wendy Stone, “…good, quality family relationships are important to a whole range of outcomes for family members, including the development of children.” (Stone, W., & Hughes, J. 2002. Social capital. Empirical meaning and measurement validity. Research paper, 27). What better way to build those relationships than by having fun together? 

Many children’s activities bring delight to adults as well.  Take a drive by a local park and see who is having more fun throwing a Frisbee or swinging on the swings.  It is often the adults who have the brightest smiles on their faces!  You may ask yourself, “How can I engage my children in activities that we will all enjoy and will it break the bank in order to participate?”  The simply answer is that there are many free and low cost options out there for parents who want to spend some quality time with their children while having fun at the same time.

Parents who are looking for the free route can look right under their own roof.  Children love to play games.  The thought of beating your parents at anything can be the biggest draw.  If weather permits, outdoor games in the backyard are also available at a moment’s notice.  Badminton, volleyball, basketball, jump rope, hop-scotch, and tag are all great ways to get some exercise and enjoy each other’s company.  If weather is a factor, then helping to prepare dinner, baking cookies or watching a family movie are also great options. 

What adult doesn’t want to act like a child again?  Engaging in fun activities with your children allows parents to do just that.  Young children delight in seeing their parents act “silly”.   In an article in Huff post Healthy Living, author Tara Stiles said, “Kids can be our best teachers. We should remember to be more like them.”  She writes that there must be a balance in our lives so that we do not become stiff and robotic as we work through our busy schedules and forget to enjoy life. (Stiles, 2009).  Stiles offers “Ten Ways To Be A Kid Again”. These suggestions would thrill both adult and child alike.

Those with older children, including tweens and teens, may find that making silly faces is not what their children had in mind for a great time.  The beauty of having fun with older children is that you can do almost anything!  Teenagers still enjoy cooking and baking.  They may also have the same taste in books and movies.  Older girls would love to have a cup of coffee with their mom or dad and spend the afternoon shopping, while boys would still have a great time playing sports, heading out to watch the local sports team, or even challenging a parent to video games.

There are tons of places to find a list of free or low cost ideas.  There are literally 100’s of great ideas, many of which will not cost you a penny.  If you are looking for more creative ideas, or some that you may never have heard of, check out some of the many blogs that list fabulous ideas.

A good relationship between parents and children has been shown to help a child to well academically, behaviorally and socially.  (http://www.childtrends.org/Files/Parent_TeenRB.pdf )  Being yourself, taking an interest in your children and knowing when to let loose, can all help in building great relationships.  No matter what activity they choose, parents will sleep well (possibly due to exhaustion) knowing that they spent some quality time with their children.