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7 Forgotten Simple Pleasures That Can Help You Reconnect with Your Children

Updated on December 27, 2015

Hurry, Hurry, Hurry

The first two decades of the 21st Century have brought many wondrous innovations, including the Internet, that make communication easy and instantaneous. As a result, information is always at our fingertips, and we have evolved into a got-to-have-it-now society with exploding interests.

We're engaged with our world, but we're frazzled by our own frenzied pace.

In the midst of all this, family life is busier than ever before, but we've become increasingly disconnected from the people who mean the most to us. In our hurry to get to the next soccer practice or finish that next big work project, communication between immediate family members has suffered.

Returning to more simpler times is not realistic, and not desirable for most, but that doesn't mean we need to be enveloped in a frenzied, technology-driven buzz 24 hours a day. By picking out a few gems from the past, we can relieve some of our current stressors AND form strong bonds with our children.

To get your creative juices flowing along these lines, here are six forgotten simple pleasures that can help you reconnect with your children.

Story Night

The art of storytelling has taken a definite downturn in recent decades, but it can be a wonderful opportunity for families to share their history and foster creative thought. Our family dedicates an hour or two, one night per week, to telling stories, each of us taking a turn. It's great fun and provides a standing respite from our busy lives.

As Nile Stanley and Brett Billingham detail at Language Magazine, family storytelling is a powerful technique for helping parents to jump-start their children's grasp of the language. Watching their parents tell stories also helps children with reading comprehension and in beginning to understand human body language and facial expressions.

In general, families don't spend enough time talking to each other, and storytelling is a perfect, entertaining vehicle to help us reconnect.


Dave Herholz Campfire stories
Dave Herholz Campfire stories

Charades

Looking for a fun, free, and easy way to engage your children, anytime, no matter where you are or how old they are?

Charades is your ticket!

Charades is a simple, no-cost game that requires no equipment whatsoever and that you can play almost anywhere. Like family story night, charades can help children learn to interpret facial expressions and body language, and it also helps families explore their varied personalities.

Charades is always good for a few belly-laughs, too.

For more about the educational value of charades, you can check out the resources available through the University of Victoria’s Let’s Face It program.

In the meantime, gather your kids in the living room and start performing!

Country Drives

Loading everyone into the family car and hitting the road with nothing to do was once a standard part of life, but it’s been largely lost in our soccer-league world. To be sure, we drive more than ever before, but we're always headed somewhere.

In "Bring Back the Sunday Drive", Julie Campoli makes a compelling argument for returning to the leisurely drive, and it’s something that our family has enjoyed for years. In our central Indiana location, excursions are nearly always “country drives” that give us plenty of time to relax and talk about our weeks.

Ken Figlioli Backroad view  Vineyard Canyon Road in southern Monterey county. Please view my profile for attribution information.
Ken Figlioli Backroad view Vineyard Canyon Road in southern Monterey county. Please view my profile for attribution information.

Atari Tournaments

Modern video games are realistic enough that the virtual worlds they create can disconnect game-players from those around them. Even so, researchers like Mark Griffiths at Nottingham Trent University have found there to be educational benefits to playing video games.

Our family has taken a new slant on video games by breaking out the old Atari console and holding round-robin tournaments, where we’ve found that the retro graphics and crude game movements foster more person-to-person interaction than newer units.

If you were a Generation X baby and decide to try this technique with your kids, though, beware. Not only will they wipe the floor with you in your favorite childhood games, but the Atari graphics are laughable.

Be prepared for some good-natured ribbing.

Old Atari Games Can Be a Conversation Starter

Cooking

Gaining a firm grasp of sound nutritional principles during childhood can help youngsters avoid the bad habits that lead to obesity and other problems later in life, according to WebMD in "Cooking With Your Children."

For our family, time spent together in the kitchen is another opportunity to talk about our days and just generally stay in touch with each other, while also having fun and learning about nutrition. Start with something simple to make, like spaghetti and meatballs, and graduate to more complicated fare as interest and tastes dictate.

If you decide to take your kids into the kitchen with you, make sure to spend some time talking about food choices and the nutritional value of the dishes you prepare together.

Rene Schwietzke Cooking in a Pan  Cooking class at the Boston Center for Adult Education
Rene Schwietzke Cooking in a Pan Cooking class at the Boston Center for Adult Education

Photo Albums

In the span of less than a decade, photo albums and scrapbooks have been largely replaced by Facebook albums and Instagram uploads. Once a month or so, our family loves to pull out albums from years and decades past to look at where we have been and talk about how the people and places in the photos led us to where we are now. It’s another great technique for sharing family history and engaging in honest conversation.

If you're really ambitious, or if your family had been full-digital for more than ten years, then try going retro on your own. Buy some photo albums or scrapbooks at the Goodwill or a hobby store, print out your best digital photos, and build something tangible for the future.

James Morley Hook Edwardian Family Album page #31  See notes to view links to individual images.   See more images from this fascinating Edwardian Hook family album.
James Morley Hook Edwardian Family Album page #31 See notes to view links to individual images. See more images from this fascinating Edwardian Hook family album. | Source

Volunteering

Want to spend special time with your kids AND teach them how to be better, more empathetic citizens as they grow?

Nothing fits that bill better than volunteering together. Working as a family unit to help the community is a wonderful way to pull out important conversational topics while you also accomplish something meaningful

Even in small towns, the opportunities to volunteer are varied enough to fit almost any interest. Here are just a few ideas of the ways you and your children can work together to make a difference:

  • Shelf books at the library on Saturday mornings.
  • Visit area nursing homes and read to the residents or help with meal service.
  • Volunteer to walk dogs at the local animal shelter.
  • Organize a community garage sale to benefit a non-profit group.
  • Collect donations for needy families at Christmas.

The list goes on and on, and you can almost always find something that fits with your own social conscience. Keep your eyes on local newspapers and Facebook groups for volunteer opportunities that make sense for your family.

Volunteer with your kids!
Volunteer with your kids! | Source

Take Action!

Use these ideas to start getting serious about taking a break from the stress of modern living, and if none of these simple pleasures strike your fancy, come up with some of your own. Once you have a favorite, jot down a few ways that “relearning” this pleasure could benefit your family.

Then sit down with your spouse and kids, pull out your calendars, and decide on a time and place within the next week when you can try out your idea. Make sure you have everything in place to carry out your plan, and, most importantly, commit to spending that time with your family.

Which of these simple pleasures do you think your family would enjoy most?

See results

About the Author

Adam Hughes is a writer and IT professional from central Indiana. Visit his website at AdamHughesWriter.com for free short stories and other writing tips, and to see what effect miles of corn fields can have on a man's fiction.

About the Author

Adam Hughes is a writer and IT professional from central Indiana. Visit his website at AdamHughesWriter.com for free short stories and other writing tips, and to see what effect miles of corn fields can have on a man's fiction.

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    • Adam Hughes profile image
      Author

      Adam Hughes 3 years ago from Indiana

      Hi Blavion ... thanks for sharing your memories. Glad to help rekindle them!

      Adam

    • Blavion Wolfane profile image

      Dylan Parado 3 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      I agree! These are great ideas! Back when I was a child, my mother would love to tell me the different kind of stories. I still remember the time when she told a story about a poor and helpless man becoming a significant and prominent man. That story inspired me a lot! I didn't only savor the stories that she told, but my brother and father also loved her stories! This article reminded me of the good old days I had!

    • Adam Hughes profile image
      Author

      Adam Hughes 3 years ago from Indiana

      Thanks for reading and sharing. I like the idea of expanding charades to include many different themes -- appliances sound like fun!

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 3 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      These are great ideas! Our family loved to play charades. We would choose different themes, such as movies, animals, cartoon characters, or even household appliances! Pretending is a great way to increase creativity and imagination in children. Storytelling was another favorite activity for our family.

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