How To Spend Quality Time With Your Child – A Top 5 List Of Fun Activities

How To Spend Quality Time With Your Child

You may or may not be aware of the fact that in our family, I am the one who picks up our 3-year old son Benni from kindergarten at least four times a week. When I do that the challenge is always the same: How to make the best out of the time we are spending together on that particular afternoon? How to spend quality time with your child without just “doing something for the sake of it” and counting down the hours until mom comes home from the office?

That may sound a bit harsh. But if you are a busy parent who, besides working and being a mom or dad for the most part, also has interests and hobbies and basically a life of his own, you will most likely agree that keeping your kids entertained while having a good time yourself can be a real challenge.

Which brings me to the point that there is a huge difference between spending time together and spending QUALITY time. It is easy to just being with your kid and deliberately making an effort to make the best out of it you can! While the first is something we all can do “somehow”, the latter can be a real challenge. My goal is to be there for my son as much as possible when he is around; and that can become quite stressful, especially when you happen to run out of ideas.

Hence, in this blog post I want to look at the top 5 activities that I enjoy the most when it comes down to spending quality time with my son. I want to look at five top-level activities that you can leverage to enjoy time together with your kids. Activities, that you can enjoy together as a “team”. So let’s get started…

#1 Play together

If you have ever visited this blog before, it won’t surprise you that “Playing together” is my number 1 tip for moms and dads who want to spend quality time with their kids.

Play Together With Your KidsAt the end of the day, having a blast with your kid is all about rediscovering your inner child. Fear not, I’m not going to get into any kind of psychology here. What I’m trying to say is this: If you really want to bond with your child and have a good time together, try to follow them into their “world”. Try to enjoy what they enjoy and share the fun.

If it is hard for you to enjoy playing with the “kids toys” your son and daughter enjoys the most, here is a word of advice: Don’t feel bad. Benni also has a few toys that I don’t like. But it is OKAY to be a bit selfish here! Huh, that comes as a surprise, right? How can a mom or dad be selfish? Let me explain!

If you want to play with your kid, you may safely assume that he or she wants to play together with YOU as well. And if you don’t enjoy their toys, they will notice that and it won’t be as much fun as if you share the excitement of playing with a toy that both of you love. So when you join your kid for a mutual play session, why not tell him (or kindly ask) to put away that puzzle you do not enjoy that much and play some Lego or Duplo with you instead, if YOU enjoy that more? Your kid will most likely agree, because having quality time with YOU by playing together is usually much more important than holding on to this one toy he or she is playing with right now.

And if you are really excited to play with the toy you are suggesting, it will carry over and your kid will be excited as well!

If you are looking for some inspiration what toys you may want to get that qualify as “interesting for kids and parents alike” then take a look ad my List of Top 10 Toys For 3-Year Olds And Their Dads (works for moms as well, I bet 🙂 ).

#2 Read out stories

Now, if toys aren’t your thing or you are simply exhausted froma hard day at work then this second tip may work for you almost as good as the first one.

Read out stories! Reading out a book can be very entertaining for the two of you and can bring together the entire family. Sometimes I am just not in the mood of getting down on the floor and actively playing, or Benni is tired. What we would do in that scenario find a cozy spot somewhere in the house and read out a story.

==> Click here to see the BEST storybooks I could find on the internet <==

Reading Out Stories Is High Quality Time

You have several options here and you will have to figure out which one works best for you. Not all parents are the same, and your kids aren’t either. So just give it a try.

Picture books

The first option would be to pick up a storybook. When we do that, Benni would usually sit down on my lap or right next to me and we go through the story and talk about what we are seeing. Sometimes, when it’s a story that Benni already knows, he starts “reading” the story to me, which is quite fun.

Children’s books

Besides picture books “normal” children’s books are an option as well. They are all about text, less about pictures. With that being said, your kid should already be at an age where he or she can listen to you for 15 to 20 minutes without getting distracted too easily. This sometimes works with Benni (who is almost three years old at the time of this writing), but more often he gets disturbed by something and then it’s hard to bring his attention back. However, more than often I am able to hold his attention by making use of my next tip…

==> Click here to see the BEST storybooks I could find on the internet <==

Play it out

In either case, you can play a bit with your voice. Pitch it up or down, speak slower or faster, imitate an old person or a kid. Your kid will love that and will almost all the time return the favor with a big fat smile or laughter, which is the highest praise you can get from a child 🙂

Something you may also take into consideration is reading the book with the entire family. Imagine sitting there with your kids and your wife, and everyone is acting as one of the characters and reads the lines of that particular character with their voice!? This type of playing it out isn’t for everyone, but it is certainly the option that brings the most excitement to the table.

Radio Plays

I know there are days when I am even too tired for reading myself. It rarely happens, but it sometimes does. In that case sitting down together and enjoying a really old school’ish session of listening to “old school” radio plays can turn out as very well spent quality time as well! There are tons out there and if you just want to give it a try before investing into it, you may just want to check out Amazon’s Prime Music library, as they sometimes feature very well-made radio plays as well.

Pro-Tip: Story cubes

Story Cubes Are A Great Way To Play With KidsFinally, there is one last options for the advanced story readers of you: Story cubes. Now, this may or may not be well suited for you because it requires a lot of fantasy and you will have to actively work out a story. Here is how it goes: Story cubes are small set of cubes (usually sold in sets of three) that have different pictures on either side. Now you through these cubes and you make up a story from what they show: For example one cube shows a sorcerer, the second a castle and the third one a butterfly. Now it’s your job to make something out of that 🙂 If your kid is already a bit older, you can also turn this game into a game of building out that story together or challenge each other or the like. The possibilities are endless.

==> Click here to see the BEST storybooks I could find on the internet <==

#3 Go out

By going out I do not necessarily mean “go outside”. While this can certainly be super fun, sometimes the weather is bad (it’s raining or it’s too hot or whatever). By going out I also mean things like

  • visiting the mall,
  • eating out,
  • going to the toy store together
  • or even taking your kid to the hardware store.

I know, that “hardware store” point may sound a bit weird at first, but hear me out: When I want to spend quality time with my kid, it is, in my opinion, important that you share the things with your child that you are passionate about. If you have to something in the backyard or in the house this weekend and need to get some stuff in preparation, why not take your son or daughter with you when buying it. Usually kids are very interested in the stuff you as their parents are interested in or better yet excited about. Share these things with them!

Visit The Playground Every Now And ThenOf course, as mentioned above, this point also includes more traditional activities like going to the park or visiting the playground. If possible, combine such a “getaway” with something you don’t do every day. Maybe take the bike together with your kid (make sure that you have a good safety seat or kids trailer and wear helmets, though) or even public transportation. That’s interesting for kids and if it’s something you don’t use every day, it may get you excited as well (which, again, is key here)!

I try to share the things I am excited about whenever I can with Benni. I go swimming with him, we go to the model airfield or to the Nürburgring racing track every now and them. Obviously, there isn’t much for him to do; but lots of things to experience and get interested in.

Maybe you are a private pilot or love driving the motor cycle. Maybe you love go fishing or see the Yankees play. If there aren’t overwhelmingly complex security measures required (and it doesn’t get dangerous for your kid, never put their health at risk), try to share that with them. They will thank you later!

That leads me to the next point…

#4 Play video games together

This one may come as surprise, and I do not want to go too deep into this, as I have already dedicated an entire block post to this topic.

Prepare Your Kid For The Modern World By Playing Video Games With Them Every Now And ThenI just want to say so much here that I was a huge fan of video games my entire life, and I guess I will always be. And that’s a good thing! It’s something I enjoy and it is part of who I am. I strongly believe that I can leverage that to give my son the best starting position when it comes down to developing a healthy relationship with multi media some day.

In this rapidly changing world computers already play a big role, this process will not be turned over. Computers will only get more important. And just like with physical toys, my basic idea holds true: The best way to learn is through play. Benni will get in touch with video games sooner or later (rather sooner) with or without me and it is in my and Bennis best interest when I help him developing a healthy relationship to them right from the get go.

In our case that means that we are having a blast together when we fire up my PC or Nintendo Switch. Yes, we spend quality time together!

#5 Be creative

However, time in the virtual world should under no circumstances exceed the amount of time you spend together in the “real world”. That’s important: Anything you overdo can turn into poison, and that is true here as well. So be creative! Play the games that you enjoyed as a kid. Play hide-and-seek in your backyard or inside the house, play tricks at each other. Even “fight” a bit for fun. Why not? As long as your kid understands that there is a time and a place for everything, you’ll be fine, and you’re being a great parent!

Invite other parents from the neighborhood over so your kids can play together. You parents can have a great time talking while your kids are playing. Uhm!? But how is that quality time? That brings me to my last point, my bonus tip if you will…

BONUS TIP: Do different things while just being together

Now, this is the secret sauce to spice things up: Understanding that spending quality time together does not necessarily mean that YOU as moms or dads have to keep your kids and yourselves entertained every single minute! You’re a parent, you’re a super hero ALREADY! Allow yourself and your kid to be by himself as well, while still letting that time count towards quality time.

If I notice that Benni is fiddling around with a toy all by himself, I don’t disturb him. I find something to do by myself. Like drinking a cup of coffee. Or preparing a blog post. Or reading the news. The key is not to park your kid in front of a toy, but to also understand that it is okay that your kid (and you) need some time for yourselves every now and then. Just be there for each other when you need each other!

Conclusion

There you have my 5 tips, or better yet top-level ideas, on how to spend quality time with your kid. I hope my article had something in it for you and that you could get some inspiration from it. If you have something to add to the story, or there is something you disagree on, please do not hesitate to reach out. There is a comment section below where I read and respond to every single comment. You can, however, also reach out via email, of your story is more personal and you want to talk in private. My email address is chris@ThatToyDad.com.

If you want to dig a bit deeper, you are more than welcome to read either my article Top 10 Toys For 3 Year Olds And Their Dads, my review of the Hubelino Marble Run System (which is an amazing toy to get started with my tip #1 from above) or my essay about The Best Video Games For Kids And Their Dads To Enjoy Together.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you 🙂

chris

P.S.: Did you EVER happen to yell at your child or call a timeout? Did you regret it afterwards? I certainly have, and I never felt good about it! If you want to learn how to put an end to this behavior, decode your kids and understand them so much better and become a calm parent, then make sure to read my FULL REVIEW of “Positive Parenting Solutions” HERE. This program changed our family’s life and we saw first results within just 3(!) days. And it will certainly work for you as well!

How to get your kids to listen without nagging, reminding or yelling

20 Comments

  1. Hi Chris,
    nice post!

    I don’t have kids but definitely this guide is very useful. I’ll need it in the future :).

    What do you think about video games and technology in general for kids?
    Because I remember when I was Young and I played a lot with Game Boy and Play Station, but I wish I could read more in those days.

    Thank you,
    Marco

    1. Hey Marco!

      Thank you for taking the time to comment! Regarding your question, I believe that is inevitable for kids nowadays that they will get in touch with tech and video games sooner or later. They need to learn how to deal with computers anyways. Why not learn it sooner than later and have fun doing so? I love playing video games with my son; and I’ve actually dedicated a whole blog post to that topic 🙂 Make sure to check it out!

      I believe tech is a great way for kids to learn new things, as long as you do it together don’t use video games and the like to keep your kids entertained while you are off to other thing all day long… It’s all about the right balance, I think! 🙂

      Cheers,
      chris

  2. Nice advice. I do not have kids yet, but someday I will. I will use your advice when I get the opportunity. I can imagine it’s not always easy to “return” to the world of being a kid with your kid. I put my Jurassic Park dinosaur toys in a bin about 20 years ago and haven’t played with them since. Hopefully, my kid will enjoy them when I get to that point in my life.

    1. Hey Todd and thanks a lot for your comment. Glad you liked my article! Maybe you know someone who has kids right now and might like my blog!? It would be great if you could share it with them 🙂 Oh, and make sure to take these dinosaur’s out every now and then? Maybe you can put them in a showcase or so and show them off as collectibles? Sounds like you had a blast with them as a kid! Don’t let that memory slip!

      All the best,
      chris

  3. Hi Chris, Thank you for this great post.
    I am a granny and absolutely love spending time with my grandchildren. When my two grandsons and their parents came to live with us for a while, I found that they were of an age to enjoy board games but the most fun we had was building a pond and river in the garden. They were so interested and helped a great deal. Although they are bigger now they still talk about it and the fun they had. Now with my four year old grandson we play in the monkey tree. He says, its a pity I am not a kid otherwise I would be his best friend and we could have picnics in the monkey tree. Love spending this quality time with my Ben. His parents also have great fun with him.

    1. Hi Jill,

      thank you so much for this lovely comment! Sorry that I didn’t manage to reply earlier, I guess your comment somehow slipped through. I wish you and your grandkids all the best! Enjoy your time together, it sounds like your amazing grandparents!

      All the best to you and your family,
      chris

  4. Oh my goodness, Chris, how you took me back down memory lane with your suggestions.
    As you mention, for a parent it can be difficult to start spending quality time, hence fun time with your child, especially after being at work for the whole day. But, if I can add to your valuable suggestions, stop for a moment and think how quickly time passed already since your child was born. Well, believe me if I tell you that, before you know it, your son will be 18 – an adult! – and those precious moments will be gone forever, only to be stored in your heart for life.
    All of what you suggested brought the greatest joy to me, and I like to think to my son too. There is nothing better in life than being able to share in the fun time with your child. They are our children, they deserve more than child minding.
    Thank you ever so much for your ideas, Chris. I happen to think they are absolutely brilliant.

    1. Hi Giulia,

      what a beautiful comment, and so true! Thank you so much for taking the time and sharing your thoughts with me! I totally agree. Benni is just 3 years old (almost) and when I look at the pictures that were taken just 2 and a half years ago, it feels like pictures from a different era.

      Time flies, and we certainly should make the best of it. If my blog can help others to achieve that, then I am happy 🙂

      Thanks again and all the best to you and your family,
      chris

  5. Hi Chris, I really enjoyed your article. Even if my daughter is not 3 years old anymore (she is 9 now), we still find ourselves struggling to find some interesting things to do together. She is getting bored very quick. Now we play cards, rummy, yahtzee. I agree that spending time together means also a shopping therapy, in our case 🙂
    I was not aware about “Story Cubs”, but it seems interesting.
    Do you have any tips for a 9 years old.

    1. Hi Dany,

      thanks for reaching out. Glad you liked the article. I bet the story cubes are a very good present for a 9 year old as well. While 3 year olds definitely need there parents to tell them stories inspired by the cubes, you could probably turn that around with a 9 year old. Let SHE tell YOU a story!? 🙂
      Finally, for a nine year old I’d totally recommend Lego. They have sets especially targeted at girls as well, but I’d probably go with a regular Lego Technic set and see if she likes it. Build it together with her. For me, playing Lego certainly played a big role in my career decisions later on to become an aerospace engineer (and finally a software developer due to their robotics kits) 🙂

      All the best to you and your loved ones,
      chris

  6. Hey, Chris, this is a very interesting story.I better say story, because every paragraph I read I feel like I am watching a movie.Thank you for sharing these valuable tips with us.I will share it with my elder sister she has got two babies Hosanna, she is 4 and Hosea, he is 18 months old.

    Thank you again.

    1. Hey Abe,

      thank you for the compliment. Glad you liked my writing style. Looking forward to your sister visiting my blog. Please ask her to reach out if she has any questions. Maybe this blog is something she also wants to share with her husband!?

      Cheers,
      chris

  7. This is amazing! Very informative and helpful! Yes, kids actually spell Love with “T.I.M.E”, and I agree, they want that quality time with their parents haha. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Hi Sarah,

      I have to write that down. Spelling love with “T.I.M.E.” is a strong statement! Love it!!! Is that a common theme in the US? I’m from Germany and I’ve never heard it before, not even from close friends. How cool!

      All the best to you and your family,
      chris

  8. Hi Chris.

    When I used to pick my daughter up from school she used to find it highly amusing that I sang along (completely tone death by the way) and made myself look like a complete idiot by dad dancing (only when stationary). I found that even when we weren’t doing anything that day it generally put her in a good mood. Now she is sixteen and while she has her moments when she isn’t worrying about something or someone there are still times that she expects me to do it and we both have a good laugh.

    Good post though.

    1. Hey Andrew,

      thanks for sharing this 🙂 What a fun way to connect with your kid; and even more impressive that it still works today. As parents, we build a really deep and important relationship with our kids. Playing and having fun together are really key here! Your case proves that yet again.

      All the best to you and your whole family,
      chris

  9. Very insightful post as I feel this a problem many parents face. I think being creative is a key part as although reading books and playing together are very important, they can become a bit repetitive when done constantly.

    1. Hey Josh, you’re absolutely right! That’s why I put this “idea” last so that it kinda becomes the final thought that people take away from this blog post. Maybe I should have labeled it #1 then, right? Huh, next time 🙂

      All the best to you and your loved ones,
      chris

  10. My daughter’s favorite thing to do is read her Lion King book. She doesn’t know how to read just yet, but she mumbles gibberish when she has the book in her hands. She copies the way I read it to her. She can tell by the picture when a character is talking and emphasizes more on her words. Thank you for this great article and for giving some great ideas!

    1. Hey Miranda! Thanks for sharing this story here with us 🙂 Listening to your kids mumbling gibberish and thus learning to speak is so fun, isn’t it! I loved it so much. Now Benni is at an age where he really speaks full sentences and asks questions, which is really awesome as well! Sometimes, when he sings, he reminds me of that “mumbling gibberish” age because then he starts making up his own lyrics and words… So much fun 🙂

      All the best to you and your family!
      chris

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