You know one of the great things about kids? They’re malleable. And they love everything. You’re into sports? Great, so is your kid! You like heavy metal music? So does your kid! Computer games? Hiking? Cross-dressing? Yup. In fact, as long as it’s legal and safe(ish) you will probably find your child is naturally drawn to what interests you. I guess they see you enjoying something and imitate that behaviour. Whatever the psychology of it is, children seem to enjoy pretty much all pastimes and even more so ones they can partake in with their parents. Embrace it! It’s a way to get more out of what you like doing AND some quality family time at the same time.
Where this has worked so far…
Singing. I sing: always have done so (well there was a brief interlude when I was at university and was more interested in going to gigs, drinking cider and black and learning Microbiology but other than that I’ve always been involved in some kind of choir / performance group). So therefore my kids of course enjoy not just singing, but drama and theatre in general. They go to a drama group every week and they come out exhausted but beaming. Then on the drive home we listen to the music they have been learning and talk about musical theatre and generally geek out about the whole thing. It’s glorious!
Geeky board games. Both husband and I are ex-Dungeons and Dragons players. I’d play it now but don’t have that kind of leisure time really anymore. But there’s something wonderful about a good strategic board game – Carcasonne, Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Mysterium, Tales of Arabian Nights… we have a good collection but they are mostly quite advanced for little ones. So there are some we play that M and E can be involved in; there are countless board games and role play games that are either designed for younger players, or are simple enough for them to ‘get’. I have recently starting playing a storytelling game called Amazing Tales which is a very simple role play game and the girls adore it! It tests my ability to make up a story on the fly, too – but children are very tolerant of a lack of cohesive plot and don’t complain if all the ends don’t tie up nicely as long as the adventurers have a good time and beat the baddies.
Computer Games. Older kids do not need much encouragement to play computer games, let’s be honest, but at least at 5 and 8 years we can have a say over what they are playing and we’re frequently all playing Super Mario Brothers or Mario Kart or Minecraft together without too many arguments. The girls even discovered my old Sega Megadrive collection recently and were delighted to watch me navigate old Sonic the Hedgehog levels! They refused to play though – apparently computer games were “too difficult in the olden days”.
Running. Well, actually no. I tried this one but apparently going for a run is not fun. Not unless it’s ‘to the park’ or ‘to an ice cream van’. Can’t win them all!