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Present Parenting: Trade This For That


There are simple activities that we get in the habit of enjoying with our kids that simply do not generate the same level of engagement as others do. I noticed this last night when my husband and I were discussing our days and we were shushed by the children because they wanted us to pay attention to a segment of a show they had pulled up on Netflix: this is not good. Here are some ideas for letting go of old activities in favor of more interactive ones.

Trade: Going out to dinner together for…

Cooking At Home. This can even be expanded into looking for a recipe online together, shopping for the food, and then cooking and eating together, depending on the time that you have available. 

Trade: Going out to a movie together for…

Taking A Hike. For people living in more urban areas it is great fun just to take a walk in the city. We spent almost our entire vacation out in Portland Oregon this summer walking around and exploring the town. Walking together provides lots of time for conversation, interesting talking points, and plenty of exercise and fresh air.

Trade: Family movie night for…

Family Game Night. I happen to prefer board games, but even the interactive sort of video games where you are up and are moving, dancing, bowling and playing together instead of just staring at a screen for two or three hours, is a much more engaging experience. Our kids have gotten old enough that we can really play fun board games together now. We love to play Cranium and Taboo.

Trade: Regular Television in the evening for…

Reading Time. I know, I know, it is hard to talk the kiddos into sitting down and reading together after dinner, but it is so very good for them. It also opens up time and a space to talk about what you are reading and what they are reading…it can be really awesome. If you are especially ambitious you can take turns reading aloud. It is something that we have done together before, and it can be outstandingly fun as well. It just takes a little work to talk the kiddos into it.

Trade: Activities that you all do separately for…

Family Activities. Every community has places that teach martial arts classes to families. Engaging in this type of activity creates a common interest for everyone involved and bonds the family together. Alternatively, the YMCA also offers a variety of classes that both adults and children can participate in. It is a way to get exercise, spend time together, and to enrich the entire family.

Don’t get me wrong: any time spent in the same room with our children is a good thing. The absolute worst thing that we can do as parents is let them skulk off to their rooms the minute that they walk through the front door to interact with god-knows-who on their devices for hours at a time. Some types of engagement can be better, but all engagement is good. We can all keep changing it up and find what works best for our families.


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Resolve to be Happy

1. Stay In

2. Read Books

3. Let it go to Voice Mail

4. Write a Letter

5. Dance

6. Invest in Mood Lighting

7. Have Dinner with Friends 

8. Take Walks

9. Bake

10. Breathe Deeply

11. Enjoy your Morning Coffee

12. Play Board Games

13. Hug your Pillows

14. Adopt a New Ritual

15. Look Around

16. Give a Gift

17. Happy Cry

18. Smile at Strangers

19. Cuddle

20. Savor Small Portions

21. Stretch

22. Take Pictures

23. Use Profanity Freely

24. Give Hugs

25. Listen Carefully

26. Beautify your Space

27. Share your Favorite Movie 

28. Laugh Generously

29. Accept Gifts Gratefully 

30. Give Thanks