Can “family time” be enjoyable for both parents and children?

Kids and adults tend to be at such different stages in life that sometimes one wonders if they will ever be on the same page and enjoy doing things together. Parents often find it a chore to do ‘kiddy things’ with their children, while the kids think it’s boring to put up with ‘adult stuff’. So how do we have fun together? Can ‘family time’ ever be enjoyable to both?

We believe it can! Whether it’s in the evenings after work, over the weekend, or during kids’ school vacation-time, we have to make the most of the little time we get with the kids in our increasingly busy lives with never-ending deadlines, and challenges to meet every day.

Here are some simple ways we thought your kids and you could get to know each other better and have a great time doing it!

A day at the park:

No matter how great a swing set they might have in their backyards, most children are completely enamored by a public playground. Occasionally packing a picnic lunch and spending the morning at the park gives children a different place to play in, and different friends to play with. You can invite family friends and their children to join you so that while the children play together, you’ll have a chance to enjoy adult company yourself. Nothing beats a day that entertains you as well as the children. Get ready for a day of fun and put your mind at ease by knowing that you’ll be giving your children a refreshing experience, and not having to miss out on socializing!

Baby’s day out:

With their hectic school schedules and tiresome routines, children sometimes need a day out that’s just for them to do what they do best – let go of themselves, explore and have some unstructured fun! Kids love taking trips to amusement parks, water parks and fun-fairs for this very reason. Such places are oriented towards giving children an all-rounded good time full of excitement, discovery and adrenaline. The wild rides, colourful costumes and all the other excited children provide stimulus for the kids and give them a chance to build their motor skills and channel out pent-up energy. And what’s stopping us adults from enjoying the same things? We can enjoy riding theme park rides with our children, and have the best partner to right sit next to us in each ride — not to mention the screaming and giggling you will get to experience first hand.

Artsy-fartsy:

Kids are naturally creative, curious, imaginative, and intuitive – they have all the essentials of a budding artist. Art gives kids the opportunity to explore these aspects of their personality and express themselves freely. While the rest of their lives in modern Singaporean society is painfully structured, art provides an avenue for children to have unconditional fun.

We can also tell a lot about what’s going on with them through their artwork. Kids who don’t have strong language skills usually manage to express themselves a lot better through the pictures they draw or paint, and this is as important to develop as any other skill we want our children to pick up. And this doesn’t even require many conventional ‘art materials’ that are getting increasingly expensive. Kids can make art with anything! Vegetable-printing is a definite favourite – slice differently-shaped vegetables (ladies fingers and onions make really nice patterns) and they can be dipped in paint and then printed on paper to make beautiful designs! Art is not only beneficial for kids, but can bring out a naturally calming experience for you too. You can scribble away, flick the tip of paintbrushes against a canvas, or just lose all the stress of daily life by cutting paper patterns. Try it!

Sock puppets:

This is yet another sure-win – use anything lying around the house and stick it onto a sock to make faces (e.g. thread for hair, beads for eyes, coloured paper and crayons for anything else you want to add); then, make up stories about the puppets with your children and stage your very own home-made puppet show! You can even make puppets by painting on eggshells. Another fun way to teach your children conservation is to encourage them to make art work from recycled materials so they broaden their perspectives regarding the usefulness of things while developing their creative side, and reduce the amount of rubbish piling up around the house at the same time! Bread wrappers, old newspaper and even pencil shavings can serve as exciting art material. Let your imagination go wild!

Simple Fun:

One of the best parts about kids is that they’re so easy to please. While it might take expensive vacations or the latest digital camera to satisfy adults, kids can gain immeasurable pleasure from a water gun or some rolling around in the mud. If we let go of our hang-ups about ‘getting dirty’ or ‘making the house messy,’ the home or the neighbourhood can be very lucrative spaces for some innovative fun. Take your children out to play in the rain, or play ‘tag’ with them around the void deck. Or if you want to get to know your kids’ friends, throw a play dough party at home and invite everyone. The only required item for this: (yes, you guessed it) play dough! Nothing beats playing in the rain or water with your kids. The fun doesn’t just stop there, once the family cleans up — you can imagine the happiness on everyone’s face when they find a warm home with some fresh pizza to help the appetite!

Educational Trips:

The Zoo, Bird Park, Science Centre, Discovery Centre, or even a trip to Kampong Glam can be very educational yet exciting for children. Children are innately curious and love to learn. So show them that learning doesn’t always have to be boring or stressful like it might be in school. We know that in reality, education is fun and can happen outside the classroom too! Going to the park or the zoo can be just as relaxing for you as a parent. We tend to go out frequently but always on a mission to complete one of the hundreds of tasks we have. However, when you find yourself going out with your family, you will feel the wind, sun and sky feel significantly different. It will feel peaceful and more appealing than ever before, because it has no deadline and will be shared with your kids.

Fun with Nature:

Trekking, hiking, swimming in the ocean, a trip to the Botanical Gardens, playing in the sand at the beach – all these activities bring children a lot closer to nature. Head for the Henderson Waves; Singapore’s highest pedestrian bridge. It has seven undulating rib twists and turns, which run through the dense tropical foliage of Mount Faber Park to Telok Blangah Hill Park. No surprises that the bridge offers some of the island’s best sunset and sunrise views. We live in a concrete jungle today – introduce your children to some good, old-fashioned nature so they don’t lose touch with it completely. Letting them spend a lot of time in the great outdoors will compel them to invent their own games with just sticks and holes in the ground. Get them away from video games and the computer which zaps their mental energy, and acquaint them with the traditional forms of playing. If you are worried about not having the time to exercise with a busy lifestyle — hiking, trekking and swimming are all activities that can help you to exercise and lose weight while enjoying with kids.

Sports and Games:

There are quite a few games that the family can play together. Badminton and table-tennis are sports in which the whole family can get involved. Get the rackets out every Saturday morning! The exercise will do everyone good. Other games like football, monopoly, scrabble and card games also lend to some quality family time. It’s a misconception that you can’t have fun as an adult with your children, board games tends to bring out the biggest child in all of us. How awesome would it be to enjoy that feeling with your children?

Have you enjoyed any of these activities with your children? Do you have other ideas on how a family can have a great time together? Share them with us!

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