Your family weekend is approaching and it is time for Family Game Time, Woo Hoo! Whatever the age your precious kids are, carve out 30 to 45 minutes. Setting a time limit helps to keep you focused and sane. Bring out those age appropriate board games and find your happy place.
Finding Your Happy Place
Finding your happy place can be easy. Whether it is down on the floor on a comfy blanket with pillows or maybe at the dining table. Choose the happy place that will be the setting for teaching kids (and sometimes adults!) about winning and losing graciously. Set out to make yourselves (mom and dad) comfortable. Make sure you have your favorite calming tea, a glass of wine or other favorite beverage. Make sure you’re comfortable, find your goofy self and be mentally ready to take on this fun challenge.
Everyone Put Away Your Technology!
That means, no phone, iPad, Facebook, Instagram, etc… I do like having instrumental music in the background. It is calming to me and helps set a more relaxed tone. Chick-fil-A has a great idea. They have a little box for cell phones and once you turn it in you get an ice cream. By yourself or with the help of your kids, you can construct and decorate a special Family Time Technology Free Box. Now, put everyone’s devices inside. The kids might resist at the beginning (especially your tweens and teens) but eventually they will get the hang of it. The little ones will be eager to embrace this time with their mommy and daddy. Before TV, before the Xbox, before the Kindle Fire there was family time and kids, even though they’re not used to it, they miss that and need it. Let’s bring it back.
Ages: Newborn to 1
Sit them in their happy place. Whether it is a bouncy seat or on a comfy blanket, make them comfortable. Bring out the blocks, rattles, books, dolls or simply crawl around as they do. See what they see and maybe make sounds like trains or animals. Their attention span for being in one place won’t last more than 10 to 30 minutes. This age group needs constant change in games as well. You will get cues by their disinterest. This is a great opportunity for tummy time too, so encourage that with some fun toys or activities. Parents, this is where your technology should be inside the box. Those cute pictures can wait. Also, this age group benefits highly from classical music. Here is a YouTube link to great song just for them. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEEizbmU-hU
Ages: 2 – 3
Two- and 3-year-olds need a happy contained place. Their cues are more indirect; consequently, they end up escaping and leaving you to play games alone, if you don’t keep up with them. Many times, I was left building this super tall tower only to have my son run away. Bring out the blocks, crayons or paint and paper. Draw and color with them at their level; keep it to simple and easy drawings. Bring out the shapes and play who can get the triangle in its place the fastest. Their attention span for games can last anywhere from 3 to 8 minutes. Keep things moving.
Games suggestions for 2 – 3-year-olds: Make a fort or castle with big boxes. Spot it, Melissa and Doug Puzzles, I Spy Preschool edition, Blocks, Big Legos, Jumbo Bananagrams, Matching Games, HABA: My Very First Games, Thinkfun Roll and Play Board Game, Ravensburger Snail’s Pace Race Painting, Drawing, playdough.
Ages: 4 – 6
A 4 to 6 year old will start to really enjoy Legos. You can even introduce Candyland to find the colors or play a slow, easier game you can make up as you go along. It is a fun time but can also lead to some arguing as to wanting to win, why they didn’t win, and why they should win. Stay in your happy place.
Game suggestions for 4 – 6-year-olds: Richard Scarry Busy Town, Gamewright Hisss Card Game, Connect Four, The Rooster Race, Gobblet Gobblers, Chickyboom, Candyland, and yes, playdough again.
Ages: 8 – 12
Across the nation families are excited to sit at the table and try out some new games. This age group brings the real fun back to you, though with the challenge of their bickering. Have finger foods available for your family. You will not want to leave the game site for a while. Your belly will hurt because of laughter. Your mind should be inspired to create more family game time. For example, I modify the game Telestrations (ages 12+) so my 6-year-old can play with us. She loves it.
Game suggestions for 8 – 10-year-olds: Double Ditto Family Party, Spontuneous, Melissa & Doug Suspend, Diary of a Wimpy Kid 10 Second Challenge, Monopoly, Trouble, Sorry, Twister, Jenga, HedBanz Game, Telestrations, Quelf, 5 Second Rule, Just Spit it Out!, Say Anything, Witts and Wagers, Apples to Apples, BeanBoozled, and yes, still playdough.
Should you let them win or lose the right way?
After the age of 3 the fun might actually begin for you, and so will whining, crying and finger pointing. You will hear things like, “Why didn’t I win? He cheats. She messed me up.” Rather than getting stressed, find that happy place and keep in mind that you are using this experience not just for family time but educational purposes too. Young minds need to be ready and prepared to handle winning or losing appropriately. These are necessary tools for life and school issues.
My husband, bless his heart, just did not want to see our kids cry. With our first, he would let him win 4 out of 5 games. As a result our son got older and cried and complained every time he would lose. I made sure that my husband and I were on the same page with the other two. Now, my older one corrected his ways and my other two understand that these are just games.
Enjoy These Mental Memories.
Now go ahead a pick a family game and begin creating memories. Remember, set a time limit for your sanity, grab a beverage or finger food, have a plan, find a happy place, be on the same page as your helper and let Family Game Time begin. As a result, their love language for quality time is fulfilled and you might get your alone time.