As kids get older, it’s harder to find ways to connect with them. This is true no matter the nature of your relationship to the kids in your life: parents, aunts/uncles, teacher, older sibling, etc.
In this all-digital era we live in now, it’s hard to pry our kids away from their beloved devices. If we’re being honest, it’s hard to pry ourselves away from our beloved devices, but that’s not the point here.
If you’re stumped for ideas on how to connect with your kids in a device-free way, allow us to offer some suggestions. We’re not parenting experts or child psychologists, but we find that these ideas have worked for us as people who spend time with children. Give them a try - each one is super simple on purpose.
Grab some ice cream (or another treat) and go for a walk
For one, who doesn’t love a cold and creamy ice cream cone on a nice day? Or maybe some sherbet if you’re dairy free. Once that delightful treat is in hand, hopefully it’ll be a mood booster for both of you. Then, on the walk, you can enjoy your dessert and simply walk and talk. You’d be surprised how they might open up to do in this kind of setting. It puts you both in a new place/scene together, creating a mutual experience that you can find connection in.
Ask them about their interests and pick a device-free one to do together
Have you asked the kid(s) in your life what they like to do or are interested in? Even if you don’t get or understand it, try your best to be open to what they tell you and be willing to try it with them (or at least learn more about it). Maybe your tween likes anime. Go to your local bookstore and browse through the anime section together. The goal is to step into their world as opposed to only keeping them in yours (that is, exclusively doing things you like to do).
Go for a long drive
Why it works: There’s something about a change of scenery that gets the job done whenever we need a reset from our day-to-day lives. This works for kids, too. Going for a long drive doesn’t have to equate to a full on road trip, but perhaps you drive to the neighboring city or county and spend the day there. During the drive, talk about the scenery. Ask them what stands out to them. Use the time as a way to talk about random things happening in their lives. For prompts, use the Kids Edition of Can We Talk? Cards.
Play a board game
Remember the thrill of a fun game of Uno back in the 80s (we’re telling on ourselves here!)? Or the stress of an eternal game of Monopoly? What about Taboo, the verbal word game with a twist? Yeah…kids these days are digital natives, which means they likely don’t know about any of that. And how will they if we don’t teach them? Blow the dust off of your old board games and put game-night on the calendar. Have some laughs and make some memories in the process.
Get in the kitchen
Making something to eat in the kitchen with kids is such an interesting adventure! It includes a variety of elements that work together all at one time - like creativity, reading, math, and science. Bake a cake or another kind of dessert. Try creating a copy cat version of your favorite restaurant meal. When all else fails, make a homemade pizza! Whatever it is, roll up your sleeves and pull a stool for your tiny chefs and get cookin’! Once again, laughs are sure to be had and memories made.
That’s our short round-up of device-free activities to do with the kids in your life. As a disclaimer: obviously, you know your kid(s) better than we do. Adjust and apply what might work for them and their age or personality.