How To Have More Fun With Your Kids

Complicated does not equal better. In fact, sometimes the best bonding activities with your kids are the simplest ideas of all.

Originally Published: 
Alycea Tinoyan for Fatherly

The following was produced in partnership with RX Kids Protein Snack Bars, the perfectly simple snack for the perfectly simple activity.

Blame our tech-driven culture, or type-A tendencies, or the American stereotype that more is better. Whatever the reason, many parents are compelled to seek out the most complex and time-consuming activities to do with their kids, believing that what they get out of it is directly parallel to the blood, sweat, and tears put in.

But is schlepping our kids to the pricey gymnastics studio two towns away really any more beneficial for their physical growth than playing with them in the backyard? Does chopping, dicing, and cooking away in the kitchen result in a snack that’s better than a perfectly simple RX Kids Protein Snack Bar?

No, of course not. Complicating your life doesn’t cut it when it comes to raising happy, healthy kids. Studies show that when dads spend time doing activities they enjoy with their kids (rather than stressing over the amount of time they spend with them), kids experience a 28 percent decrease in behavioral issues.

So before you double-down on complex plans to try and make your youngster’s life more awesome than ever, consider going the opposite route. Check out these four ways to simplify your child’s activity schedule, so you spend more time together, doing less. Really.

Skip: Piano lessons for 4-year-olds

Try: Music appreciation nights

Dragging your preschooler kicking and screaming to piano lessons is never going to make a Mozart out of him. Instead, pick one or two nights a week and kick back together while Alexa hooks you and your mini-me up with some lively tunes you can dance around to. Research shows that simply listening to music with your child can have major payoffs in forming that parent-child bond.

Skip: Hours-long kitchen sessions

Try: Protein bar snacks

Look, it’s not a bad thing that you want your kid to eat well. Good nutrition is a cornerstone for raising a healthy child. But in an effort to do the right thing, common sense can sometimes take a backseat. Think about it: Have you ever met a 5-year-old scarred for life because he ate store-bought, not homemade, granola? Is your 6-year-old really ruined because her soup came from a can, not your stovetop? Nah. Stop dreaming up complicated recipes and instead, serve them up something super-simple RX Kids Protein Snack Bars — kid-friendly protein bars made from real ingredients like egg whites, dates, and chocolate. They travel well, pack nicely in a backpack, and taste so good your kid will wonder what he did to deserve it.

Skip: Sports at a gym far, far away

Try: Backyard “workouts”

Maybe your kid is destined to be the next Tom Brady. Maybe not. What we do know is that when kids are young, they’ll reap far more physical and emotional benefits from a good old-fashioned romp in your backyard than they’ll get being shipped off to sports camp. A new study from Cambridge University finds that dads who engage their kids in physical games (tussling, tickling, and the like) raise more emotionally stable children than kids who miss out on the dad action. Another study from Duke University finds that parents who are physically active with their family are more likely to raise kids with a healthy attitude toward fitness. So rather than driving 60 minutes to go sit in a gym while your kindergartner learns foot drills and masters the balance beam, why not set up your own backyard obstacle course where the two of you can build skills while bonding together?

Skip: Gaming on their own

Try: Dress-up and make-believe

Instead of buying the big screen, the console, and all the widgets and gadgets to make your child’s gaming experience as true to life as possible, stick to old fashioned make believe for as long as they’ll have you. A treasure chest of old clothes and costumes in the playroom should last you throughout childhood — if you, the parent, join in with enthusiasm. Dressing up in character (think: pirates, pioneers, fairies, and more) strengthens you child’s storytelling skills while stimulating her imagination.

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