Here are some things that happen as many children grow older:
- Your heart, of course, cries a little bit.
- Your wallet throws a mutiny after dropping $800 on new shoes every five minutes.
- You start exaggerating a little more than you used to. (See above.)
- They start developing interests in things and wanting to share them with you.*
*In our house that means talking on and on and on and on and on and on about video games.
Isn't it great that they want to share that with you? Isn't it!?!?
I mean, I know, trust me: I've had plenty of seasoned parents say things like "You're lucky they still want to talk to you!" and "You’d better figure out what Minecraft is before they start rolling their eyes at you instead of actually responding."
Now, while I understand that I should be treasuring this time, I also need people to understand this:
I simply cannot talk about Minecraft for more than 15 minutes. I cannot.
But, I desperately want to spend time interacting with and enjoying activities with my kids. So what's a concerned-but-over-it parent to do? Read informative blog posts, that's what!
I've been through the trial-and-error thing for a while now, and have been able to find a handful of activities that satisfy the need for quality time while providing fun for those rapidly-growing youngsters.
1. Pair a podcast with a pastime.
New to podcasts? That's okay — I was, too. A podcast is basically a radio show that you can listen to whenever and wherever you want. If you have a smartphone, a basic search for podcast apps will provide you with plenty of good options. If there's a specific podcast you want to try, you can also go straight to the website to find out how to access it.
My favorite way to utilize a podcast is to turn one on and get out a favorite hands-on activity. Play-doh and coloring books are my daughter's activities of choice, but the possibilities are endless. My favorite kid-friendly podcasts are The Story Pirates (light-hearted storytelling, lovable actors, and hilarious even for adults) and Brains On (a super-fun science podcast for kids — reminiscent of a 90s science tv show). You can spend time together, play, listen, and discuss what you heard once it's over. Total win.
2. Hunker down with a book… for each of you.
I recognize that this option won't work for everyone — whether your kid just isn't reading yet, or can't, or absolutely hates it — I'm not expecting you to force them to read a book if it's torture. But, if you've got a kid who loves comic books, or is crushing a chapter book series, there's a good chance that you've found them sitting by themselves on the couch, or in a corner, reading away.
Is there a book that's been sitting on your shelf for months? Are you part of a book club? Do you have a meeting report you need to review before work tomorrow? Why not snuggle up next to that little reader and simply soak up their company?
I like to make a bit of a production of it — get us both drinks and snacks and a blanket — to make it special. I get to read my book, so does my kid, and we both get some quality time together.
3. Elevate their interests to a "grown-up-friendly" level.
One of the good things about widespread franchises like Minecraft, Pokemon, My Little Ponies, etc., are the different forms of merchandise that come with them. Now, I'm not saying I worship the corporate machine or anything… I'm simply saying that I would much rather play a Minecraft board game or put together a Pokemon puzzle than actually play the video game or watch the show.
This allows you to bond with your kid over something they love, while providing your poor, melted parent-brain with a little extra stimulation.
What are your favorite ways to bond with your growing kids? I'd love to know!