photo by Benjamin Manley via Unsplash

5 Different Ways to Spend Time with Kids After School

October 27, 2021

by carolyn mitchell, guest contributor

Maybe your kids are the “hard to entertain” type. Sometimes they kids like to go hide behind screens or in their rooms, just for lack of a better thing to do. You might feel at a loss when it comes to spending time with them after school, no matter how much you want their company.

Don’t worry, it happens to pretty much every parent at some point! Try these easy ideas to break out of your comfort zone and make new memories together. Trying new things together is a brilliant bonding experience!

1. Read Them a Book (Not Just for Little Kids)

Don’t just read picture books with your kids. Read novels. Go on adventures with them. Act out the voices. Cuddle up with them and let an exciting movie play in your heads. 

Storytelling doesn’t have to stop as your children grow older. Reading out loud with your children helps instill a love of reading in them that they’ll find precious in adulthood.

Depending on your child’s age group, you can try reading exciting and classic books like:

  • Magic Tree House Series
  • Harry Potter
  • The Hunger Games or Collins’ series for younger children, The Underland Chronicles
  • Beverly Cleary books
  • The Lionboy Trilogy
  • American Girl historical fiction books

The possibilities are endless, and this is an activity that can grow with you and your child as they get older. You can even start your own family book club!

2. Go Cycling

Cycling is a great activity for so many reasons. It gets you out in the fresh air, gives you essential exercise, lets you see beautiful new trails or parks, and lets you have a conversation while you ride.

Take your kids on a weekly cycling trip around a local park, nature preserve, or even a city bike lane. You could make the destination part of the appeal, e.g. an ice cream shop or a friend’s house, or you could just bike for the sake of biking. Most kids love biking when given the opportunity!

Out of shape or looking to try a long-distance ride? Get yourself an electric bike! They’re fun for anyone, and they’re also great for grandparents who might struggle to keep up with the energy levels of their vivacious grandchildren. There are many health benefits to riding an electric bike, and you might just find your new favorite form of exercise.

3. Teach Them A Craft

Photo by Mike Fox via Unsplash

Often, some of our most treasured memories with our parents are when they taught us skills they were passionate about. Those memories are even more special when the skills have been passed down from our grandparents, their parents, and generations past. 

Teach your kids a craft you care about. Not only will it be educational, but it will be a way to share your passions and pass them on to the next generation. Here are some crafting ideas:

  • Sewing 
  • Knitting/Crocheting
  • Making a precut quilt kit
  • Decoupage
  • Shrinky Dinks
  • Beading/jewelry making
  • Dress-up
  • Tie-dye

There are a veritable bazillion DIY crafts for kids online. Look on Pinterest and find a craft that could be both fun to make and functional.

4. Include Them in Your Dinner Prep (And Cleanup)

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The ways of parenting don’t have to be a mystery to your kids. In fact, communicating exactly what’s involved in taking care of them will help them better understand you and your responsibilities. 

Ask them to take part in your dinner preparation, table setting, and cleanup. Tell them it’ll go twice as fast and they’ll be able to make the flavors exactly the way they want to. Encourage them to get creative in the kitchen and ask questions. Teaching them how to cook and clean builds important life skills, and it doesn’t have to be a chore — it can be fun!

Here are some ideas for recipes that are easy for kids to make:

  • Quesadillas
  • Individual pizzas on french bread, pitas, or homemade dough (they can choose their own toppings!)
  • Banana bread
  • Vegetable soup (teach them how to chop the veggies if they’re old enough)
  • Sloppy joes
  • Burgers

Whatever food you choose, it’ll taste even better knowing that you made it together.

5. Play Multiplayer Video Games with Them

Some parents might groan at the idea of playing video games with their children. Maybe you wanted to get them away from the screen, not the other way around. Not liking video games is a-okay, but don’t knock it until you try it!

Playing multiplayer games is a great way to keep you entertained when the weather is bad. This is also a great way to monitor the content of your kids’ video games if you’re concerned about that kind of thing. You could play family-friendly Nintendo classics like old Wii games, Super Smash Bros, or Mario Kart. You could choose a delightfully funny multiplayer Lego game, or a game based on their favorite movie.

Video games are not bad in moderation, and they’re a great reward for good behavior. Playing games with your kids can also help you monitor their screen time!

Ask Them What They Want to Do

None of these ideas appealing to your kid? No worries. Ask them what they want to do, and so long as you approve of it, you can simply join them. Your kid isn’t always a mirror image of yourself, and they might have interests or hobbies you can barely comprehend. Rather than forcing them into your world, it might help to take a glimpse into theirs. 

No matter what, have fun making memories together!

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