Given the challenges of homework, extracurricular activities, doctors’ visits, clothing shopping, housework, bath time, and your work schedule and household responsibilities, it can be hard to find the time and energy to plan out-of-the-ordinary family activities or fun things to do with kids that are extra special.
Luckily, there are options you can consider that have just enough “something different” to them to make both you and your kids happy – but that isn’t so complicated that they require a ton of planning, thought, and effort.
So before you give in to exhaustion and settle in for yet another night of playing Candy Crush on your smartphone while the kids watch TV, consider one of these five high alternative scenarios.
Family Slumber Parties
When your tired mom or dad self needs to put something together at the last minute, try an all-family slumber party. Have your kids bring their sleeping bags or blankets and pillows to the living room, order some pizza, and pop in a favorite movie – and boom, you’ve got an event.
If you’ve got ice cream or popcorn on hand, add them into the mix as snacks and desserts to give your kids an extra treat. Finish the evening by turning off the lights, bringing out the flashlights and candles, and telling spooky-but-fun urban legends, tall tales, or “before you were born” family stories.
Dinner Shows
Whether it’s a movie in a theater or live entertainment, dinner shows are perfect options for nights when you want to have a special outing, but you don’t have the time or energy to put something together. Everything’s built in – the venue, the meal, and the activity – and you only have to go to one location and make one purchase to make it happen. Plus, there’s no clean up afterward. You can just sit back and watch your kids have fun (and enjoy the fun yourself) while someone else does all the work.
Park Outings
If the weather’s nice, a park expedition can be just the ticket when you ‘re looking for fun things to do with kids that are easy and low stress. Grab your insect repellant, pack up the kids in the car, swing by your favorite take out place, and hit the park for a quick picnic. Afterward, turn the kids loose to play while you relax and watch on a park bench.
Take a Drive/Ride the Train
Pile everyone into the car, put some favorite tunes on the radio, and head out someplace where you can check out a little scenery – a country road, a quaint nearby town, a part of your city you don’t visit much. You can keep the outing lively by pointing out landmarks to your kids, singing along, or playing mini-versions of the alphabet game – then cap off the activity by stopping somewhere for an ice cream cone before you head home.
Another variation on this idea, if you live somewhere with at least some public transportation, is to hop on board the train and take a leisurely ride with no particular destination in mind. On the way you can talk about the different cities or parts of town you’re riding through, and maybe hop out a time or two at various stops and take a look around. Either way, train or car, your kids will likely be charmed by the novelty of riding around and seeing the sights with no specific purpose in mind- and for the chance to have an unfocused but fun conversation with Mom and Dad.
Wave Goodbye:
Do you know that aunt, uncle, grandparent, or best friend who’s always pestering you to let them babysit the kids? Well, why not take them up on their offer? Sometimes, the most fun things to do with kids are activities that you make happen for them, but that doesn’t involve you – like a surprise, last-minute fun outing with one of their most favorite grownups next to Mom or Dad.
While Aunt Jenna or Grandpa Dave is happily entertaining the kids last minute, you can take advantage of the time to get some housework done, pay bills, or sit in a quiet house for a few hours and read or watch TV. When your kids get back from their last-minute surprise outing, they’ll likely be full of enthusiastic stories that they can share with you before bedtime or over the breakfast table the next morning.