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When you have a limited amount of parenting time to spend with your children, you want to make every moment count. Maximizing your parenting time with your children may take planning and creative thought, which can be daunting at times, but there are many options for fun activities to do and places to go with your children.
Each child is different, so he or she may only be interested in a few of the following ideas depending on his or her age, interests, skills, etc., but at least talking to your children about possible activities will show them that you are interested in having a memorable and active time with them when you are together.
For younger children, there is a wide array of activities that can keep you playing together for hours. In the warmer months, swimming, playing in a sprinkler, going on walks through nearby parks or nature preserves, going to the zoo, or playing in the backyard can entertain your young ones - and wear them out for a good night’s sleep!)
You can also go to your local arts and crafts store and get chalk (or make some yourself as shown here), and draw pictures outside, play hopscotch or tic-tac-toe, or practice letters, numbers, etc. with your kids.
In cooler months, indoor activities like movie nights with themed snacks that you can make together, reading books to them, playing board games and indoor games like hide and go seek, building indoor forts, building with Lego's or blocks, or interactive endeavors like finger-painting or creating a homemade picture book, can keep your child’s imagination flowing and provide creative fun for them.
If the weather is warm but rainy, taking your kids out to stomp in puddles can be surprisingly fun - just make sure to have some dry clothes waiting for them when you’re done! Ultimately, engaging enthusiastically with them will help spark your kids’ imaginations for fun undertakings.
For adolescents, tailoring activities to their interests can be a great way to interact with your kids. If your child is interested in art, try a pottery-painting studio. Many cities also have art districts that will have various art classes you can take or shops you can walk through. You could also look into matinee plays at your local theaters.
If your child is interested in animals, consider taking him or her for a horseback riding lesson at a local stable. You could also volunteer together at the animal shelter, or if you want to try a more significant commitment, look into fostering a pet for local rescue organizations.
If you and your child would prefer some activities that are more physically active, look into fishing, renting canoes or tubing on local creeks (check for safe water levels with the Department of Natural Resources before going on any such water rides), going for bike rides, playing mini golf or going to the driving range at a golf course, or (if your child isn’t afraid of heights) going to an indoor rock climbing facility.
If your child prefers science to sports, there is a plethora of homemade, safe science experiments you and your child can try together. Websites like Pinterest.com can provide consolidated access to information on all kinds of fun science projects.
You can also look into the many museums that may be in your area. Most nearby cities will have historical museums, but some will also have smaller and more unique museums that may interest your child. If you live in the Midwest area, the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago is an expansive museum sure to impress any science-minded child.
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Teenagers like to spend more and more of their time at social activities with their friends, but if you let them know ahead of time of a certain event you have planned for a few hours, they may be more agreeable (less of the normal teenage grumbling) to spending some time with their dad.
Many of the activities for adolescents could also appeal to teenagers, but it is most important for teenagers to figure out what their interests are when you are planning the activities. If they aren’t willing to share that information with you, just pick something to try together- you and your teen may both be surprised as how much fun you can have trying something unexpected and new.
Again, if you make it clear to them that the activity only has to last a few hours, they may be more accepting of your plans. One good option is to look into local festivals and events going on in nearby cities that may interest your teen: art fairs, ethnic festivals, concerts, or other events may allow for unique experiences for the two of you to check out together.
One thing to remember as you engage in these activities: you should be doing them as well! Don’t just sit back and watch your child paint a coffee mug – make one, too.
Jump on the trampolines with your kids, climb the indoor rock walls together, draw sidewalk chalk pictures next to theirs. Take an interest into your child’s likes and dislikes, so that you two can have those experiences together.
You want your kids to be able to look back and remember not just the activity but also the fun they had with their dad.