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Published on December 16, 2020

How To Make Your Bored Kids’ Time More Meaningful At Home

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How To Make Your Bored Kids’ Time More Meaningful At Home

While having children is a blessing, it does come with its own kind of struggles. We want the best for our kids and for them to spend their time in a meaningful way. However, there is currently a pandemic forcing children to stay at home all day. And even outside of this pandemic, it’s very often that kids feel bored around the house as well despite having homework or various toys to play with.

It can seem like a futile and frustrating endeavour to entertain a child through other methods, however, there is a simple solution around that. Through this guide, our goal is to provide you with possible solutions to having your kids have a more meaningful time while at home. This will also help alleviate the stress on you too.

Stay Entertained And Keep Learning With Amazon Kids

Back in September, Amazon announced a name change to two of their popular kids offerings as well as new experiences. These changes are geared towards older kids and introduced various features that are designed to help families stay on track for this school year.

They called it Amazon Kids while their premium was Amazon Kids+ and with it, came a series of features. These features being:

  • New Home Screen Experience: A new home screen theme within Amazon Kids that looks and feels more like a grown-up tablet. This is ideal for children aged 8 or more.
  • Announcements: If you have an Echo device in your home, bored kids will now be able to use their Fire tablet to broadcast a message in their voice to everyone in the home. This feature needs to be enabled and parental consent is required.
  • More Videos and Music: Now bored kids can enjoy hundreds of new video titles hand-selected for kids ages 6 to 12, including gaming playthrough videos and PG and live-action titles. Kids also now have easy access to music stations from iHeartRadio Family.

On top of that, families can use Amazon Devices and Alexa to stay organized further with features such as:

  • Coursework Updates Directly from School: Alexa Skills are now available to match the learning platform used by your school system, including Canvas, Infinite Campus, Coursera, ParentSquare and Kickboard. Parents and students 13+ can ask, “Alexa, do I have any homework?” to get all your upcoming due dates.
  • Personalized Schedules: With the Alexa Skill School Schedule Blueprint, just fill out an easy-to-use template from the Alexa app or online to build a personalized schedule that Alexa will read aloud each day, like reminders for class and school activities.
  • Worksheets On-Demand: With the new Jumpstart Alexa Skill, you can ask Alexa to print math, vocabulary, science and writing worksheets, coloring sheets, and more via your wireless printer for every supplemental at-home learning need.

Beneficial for Kids and Parents

With Amazon’s new platform for kids, these new features can provide a tonne of benefits.

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First of all, Amazon Kids is free with Amazon Kids+ being subscription based ($2.99 for Prime members and $4.99 for non-Prime members), making it affordable for parents to get this.

On top of providing educational and entertaining content, each new feature brings benefits to bored kids and parents alike.

Easy Navigation

The newer home screen makes for easier navigation for parents since the display is not that different from other streaming service menus. So if your child is looking for something in particular, it’ll be easier for you to navigate it.

For the child, it allows them to feel older and can bring a sense of maturity to them while they’re still developing. It can also make things easier for them to navigate since children 12 or older have likely surfed Netflix or other streaming platforms as well and this menu makes it easier for them to navigate through these too.

The new announcement feature can be used in all kinds of different ways. Provided that you have an Alexa Echo, you can use this feature as a way of calling your child and vice versa for anything at all.

An Expanded Library of Content

While the free version does have a good library of music and videos, having an expanded library of content can provide for more hours of entertainment and education.

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Beyond that, the music can be good for school work and focus.

Keep Your Child’s Learning on Track

The coursework updates are crucial for a child to ensure not only are they doing their homework in the first place, but also to ensure there aren’t any surprises for what’s due and what isn’t. With this feature, you can ensure that you are up to speed with what needs to be worked on so you can stay prepared.

The worksheets on-demand feature is fantastic as it allows the chance for children to have further study material in certain subjects that they’re struggling with. This allows children to reinforce what they learned in various areas and develop themselves further in that aspect.

Flexible Learning Schedule

Personalized schedules also remove a lot of stress as children are informed of what sort of events or activities are planned for the day. This makes preparation for the day easier for everyone.

How To Tackle the Potential Downsides

While these new features provide a tonne of benefits, there are naturally some downsides to these products you must keep in mind. Some of them being:

  • Screen time reduces the quality of family time spent together.
  • Prolonged exposure to television can cause overeating and weight gain.
  • The fact that television causes children to lead a more sedentary lifestyle overall.
  • Technology addiction leading to superficial friendships or children being less social.
  • Become addicted to dopamine (a feel good drug that can be induced from activities that one enjoys. Some are good but others are bad such as watching television) and thus reduce productivity.

However, as a parent, you can control these aspects and there are many different ways that you can go about this to mitigate the risks of too much television.

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1. See Television As A Band-Aid Fix

The first thing is that a television can never be a parent and shouldn’t be treated as such. Yes, there are great programs on television to teach children, but there are some things that tv shows can’t teach kids all that well. At the end of the day, the relationship that you share with your kid(s) is invaluable.

As such, see these features as an opportunity to keep children entertained for a few hours at a time. Spend time with them and guide them on how to be interacting with programs and devices while also doing other activities too.

2. Place Screen Time Limits To Curb Addiction

While technology is helpful, there are such things as too much of a good thing. As mentioned above, too much television – even if it’s educational – can lead to bad habits of watching too much TV.

One way that you can limit this is by placing hard limits on how much screen time is allowed for children. What this does is that it changes the children’s perception of technology and allows them to develop further.

The reason you want to do this is that as a child develops, the more screen time they have on something, the more they’ll use it as a replacement effect for something else. This is one of the reasons for why those used to being in front of a TV screen all the time associate more with the characters they see on the screen rather than those in their lives. Overall, TV addiction can lead to children being more introverted and struggle in social situations.

By placing hard limits, it prompts children to come up with other ways to entertain themselves and can lead to them having more meaningful times.

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3. Prioritize Your Relationship

The last thing that you can do is make an effort to be reaching out to your children. One of the beauties with these features is that you’re able to know what’s generally going on in your child’s life. Even though this pandemic has forced many people to stay indoors, this pandemic will be over soon enough and people will go back to a usual routine.

Use those features to your advantage as a means of encouraging your child to ask questions and to spark conversations. If you know a project is due soon, ask them about their progress and what they’re learning. Get them to explain concepts or things they’re learning. Beyond that, you’d also have access to their watch history for shows. You can easily ask them topics revolving around that too.

By showing interest in your child, they’re more likely to open up to you and make an effort to grow that relationship too.

Bottom Line

These new features change the playing field a lot. With a new look, it’s easier for kids and parents alike to navigate the menu. Beyond that, you can ensure your child stays on top of their school work and can give them more studying and learning material. Even the announcement features allow you or your child to call around the house if necessary.

There are a tons of benefits, however you want to make sure you’re using this program to the best of your ability. To do so, it’s a matter of mitigating how much time is spent using this program and putting effort into the bond that you have with your bored kids.

Featured photo credit: stem.T4L via unsplash.com

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Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

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Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

In today’s chaotic world, having family time isn’t always easy. It can get pretty hard to coordinate schedules, especially if the family is large. Life demands that we work, attend school, nurture friendships, hobbies, etc. All of those things are extremely time-consuming and important—but so is spending time with your family.

Why is family time so important? Because we all need love and support, and a good, strong family can provide that regularly. For children, spending time with their family helps shape them into good, responsible adults, improve their mental health, and develop strong core values.

There are many positive effects of spending time with your family. My family and I, for instance (and this includes grandchildren as well), meet every Tuesday night for dinner and games. My older son and I take turns cooking. This gives all of us a chance to try some new recipes. After dinner, we play games. And without fail, they inspire competitiveness and laughter. As family night has evolved, the grandkids have invited their friends over as well, creating the need for more chairs but also expanding our circle of fun.

Aside from the obvious fun and games, there are other reasons why spending time with your family is paramount. In this article, I will provide you with multiple reasons why spending time with your family regularly is a win-win. And then, I will lay out some ways on how to do it.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important

Here are six reasons why it’s important to spend time with your family.

1. Provides the Opportunity to Bond

When you spend time together as a family—talking about your day, your highs, your lows—it fosters communication. As parents, it gives you the chance to listen to your children, to hear them out, to learn about what’s going on in their world. It also provides you with the opportunity to use life situations as teaching moments.

Before our Tuesday night dinner/game nights, my family used to see each other pretty regularly but not consistently, especially the grandkids. Our family night changed all that. Now, it’s guaranteed that the grandchildren, along with some of their friends, will be there. Not only do I get to find out what’s been happening in their lives, but they also get to know us better. It’s creating memories they can treasure forever, as well as modeling the Get-Together tradition for when they eventually have families of their own.

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“Spending time partaking in everyday family leisure activities has been associated with greater emotional bonding within families.”[1]

2. Teaches the Value of Family

Taking the time to be with your family lets your children know they are valued—that spending time together is a priority. I know that in today’s world, both parents are busy as both usually working. What better way to let your children know they are loved than by carving out time each week to spend with them?

According to Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D., “words like honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage are core to centuries of religious, philosophical, and family beliefs. Use them and others to express and reinforce your family values. Teach children the behaviors that flow from these principles. Use quotes to ignite meaningful dinner conversations and encourage kids to talk about these values.”[2]

3. Enhances Mental Well-Being

Spending that quality time together gives your children a safe platform in which to express themselves, ask questions about things that are bothering them, or talk about their day and things they’ve learned. I know that my 9-year old granddaughter can’t wait until it’s her turn to talk about her day. She usually goes on and on and has to be stopped to give everyone else a chance to talk about their goings-on.

“Research shows the quality of family relationships is more important than their size or composition. Whoever the family is made up of, they can build strong, positive relationships that promote wellbeing and support children and young people’s mental health.”[3]

For children, having the opportunity to seek advice from parents they trust—as well as being able to have a sounding board and help with problem-solving—is priceless. In addition, being able to voice their opinions and be heard—and to feel like what they have to say matters—is an esteem-builder. All of these can have a very impactful positive effect on their well-being.

4. Helps the Child Feel Loved

How do you think a child feels knowing their parents want to spend time with them—talking, sharing experiences, playing games, listening to them? It will make them feel as though they are important, and a child that feels important is happier and more apt to thrive. Setting aside chores or work to spend time with your children demonstrates that they’re essential—that they matter. What a gift to give your child!

“If a child has your undivided attention, it signals that they are loved and important to you. This can be further nurtured by experiencing joyful activities together, as it demonstrates that you want to spend time with your children over and above all of the daily demands.”[4]

5. Creates a Safe Environment

If you regularly spend time with your children, you are also creating an atmosphere of trust. The more trust they have, the more likely they are to share with you what’s going on in their world. As they get older, you’re going to want to know. Negative influences can show up at any time, but if you’ve always been there for your child, they are more apt to come to you and ask for your advice.

Spending time together generates familiarity and feelings of being supported. When a child feels safe and comfortable, they’re more likely to open up. This is one way to get to know your child and know what’s on their minds. Are they okay? Do they need your guidance? If so, how?

6. Reduces Stress

This is significant. We all suffer from stress at one point or another in our lives. Spending time with family helps alleviate that stress. It’s an opportunity to talk things out, get feedback, and maybe brainstorm for a solution to the problem that is causing the stress.

According to Brandy Drzymkowski, “During the holidays, your closest five people probably shifts to family and friends. You may even get to see loved ones who live far away. Good news! This can actually help lower your stress levels. Studies show ‘face-to-face interaction…counteracts the body’s defensive ‘fight-or-flight’ response.’ In other words, quality time spent with loved ones is nature’s stress reliever.”[5]

So, now that you know some of the benefits, what are some ideas for making family time happen?

How to Make Family Time Happen

Here are four things you can do to make family time happen and spend more time with them.

1. Family Dinners

This, as I said above, is a wonderful way to spend time together. While you’re having dinner, you have the chance to discuss things that are going on in your lives—the ups, the downs, and everywhere in between. It’s like having a buffer against life’s challenges.

Aside from that, eating dinner together has many additional benefits. Studies have shown that for kids who eat regularly with their families, there is less risk of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and depression.[6]

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“Our belief in the ‘magic’ of family dinners is grounded in research on the physical, mental and emotional benefits of regular family meals.” It further states, “We recommend combining food, fun and conversation at mealtimes because those three ingredients are the recipe for a warm, positive family dinner—the type of environment that makes these scientifically proven benefits possible.”[7]

According to Parenting NI, “children and adolescents who spend more time with their parents are less likely to get involved in risky behavior. According to studies done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse via Arizona State University, teens who have infrequent family dinners are twice as likely to use tobacco, nearly twice as likely to use alcohol and one and a half times more likely to use marijuana.”[8]

As you can see, there are multiple benefits to spending time with each other routinely. You can’t go wrong with this family activity.

2.  Regular Movie Nights

This is another fun event, although, from personal experience, I have to caution that choosing a movie that everyone wants to see is not easy. So, give yourselves plenty of time so you don’t spend two hours searching for a movie, and then end up watching no movie at all because the night is practically over. Try and choose a movie before the day, if possible.

Afterward, open it up for discussion. Ask questions pertinent to the movie. What do you think of ABC? Should they have done that? Would you have done something differently? There are so many questions you can ask to spark a conversation and keep the night going.

3. Game Night

This is another occasion for great fun. If you have a competitive spirit, it makes it even more fun. There are numerous games out there—Balderdash, Pictionary, Apples to Apples, Charades, to name a few—that can create fun havoc. All I can say is, on game nights, don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s okay if you lose the game. The fun is in being together, laughing, debating, and having a good time.

In addition, “Playing board games is great for children for many reasons besides the obvious; it’s fun to play games! Age appropriate games can help children to think strategically, solve problems creatively, work on pattern recognition and build simple math skills. They also help children develop social skills such as following rules, taking turns, and graceful winning or losing. Additionally, a family game night provides an opportunity for children to bond with siblings, parents and family members as well as peers. It can promote tradition building and establish a fun routine.”[9]

So, go find your family a game and start having fun!

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4. Sharing a Hobby

If you and one of your kids like to do the same things, do it more often. For example, my oldest son and his teenage son go on long bike rides together on the weekends. Not only do they get to exercise, but they also get to talk and look at beautiful sceneries. They’ve also incorporated cooking into their routine. They plan the meal, shop, and prepare—activities that bring them closer together.

Sharing a hobby is a great way to bring family members together. It bonds people in amazing ways. According to Alison Ratner Mayer, LICSW, “One of the easiest and most important ways to build a child’s self-esteem is to spend time with them doing something not only that they enjoy but something that you also enjoy. There is a special magic that happens between a parent and a child when they share a mutually beloved activity. It sends the message to the child that their parents are having fun, true, honest, real fun, with them.”[10]

Final Thoughts

Spending time with the family is an investment. It is an investment in the happiness, well-being, and security of that system. It can also serve as a way to break out of the daily rut and the constant worldly demands, while at the same time, building a strong family unit.

Even though it isn’t always easy to find the time, finding the time is key to staying close and to providing and receiving love and support. There is no greater gift than the gift of time. That’s what we all seem to be missing nowadays. So, in giving that gift consistently, everyone feels loved and appreciated.

The family that takes the time to interact regularly is typically happy. They know they are part of a tribe, and that’s essential in today’s chaotic world. To know that there are people whom you can count on—people who will have your back in times of need—is invaluable.

Now, go and plan something plan with your family, if you haven’t already.

Featured photo credit: Jimmy Dean via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Pittsburgh Parent: Spending Time Together—Benefits of Family Time
[2] Roots of Action: Integrity: How Families Teach and Live Their Values
[3] Beyond Blue: Healthy Families
[4] Esperance Anglican Community School: The importance of family time
[5] Brandy Drzymkowski: Spending Time With Loved Ones Reduces Stress
[6] Harvard Graduate School of Education: Harvard EdCast: The Benefit of Family Mealtime
[7] The Family Dinner Project: BENEFITS OF FAMILY DINNERS
[8] Parenting NI: The Importance of Spending Time Together
[9] WNY Children: Family Game Night- The Benefits of Game Play
[10] Child Therapy Boston: The Benefits of Sharing a Hobby With Your Child

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