You may have heard that eating dinner together a few times a week has been shown to be beneficial for your kids. Here at GeekMom and GeekDad, we believe gaming with your kids is just as important. Look at any week on this blog and you’ll find lots of gaming suggestions. In “Top 10 Reasons to Play Board Games With Your Kids,” you’ll find some concrete examples of why. I only came to believe this late in life.
I did not come from a gaming family. My sister and I preferred open-ended play like Doll Party, where we selected our dolls, dressed them up, did their hair, decorated for the party… and then it was time to clean up because of dinner. If it was at all possible to be outside we would be running around with neighborhood kids. In junior high, my family got a video camera and then making movies was ALL I did with friends right up until…well, I still do that for fun. Rarely did my parents ever play with us. My mom tried and failed to teach us Bridge. Basketball was a pastime with my dad, but weather and time dependent. We did have fun playing Scrabble with my grandmother because it was more about making gross and funny words than actually winning. Winning and losing was a problem. You can read more about that in my previous post, Confessions of a Loser.
Now, there is nothing wrong with creative play–I’m a creative arts instructor so I’m all for it. However, I have found that for easy family time, especially across age-ranges, it’s the tabletop games that score. With everyone working and schooling at odd hours, it’s the quick round of Timeline that brings us to the table. If each of us has fifteen minutes to spend on social media, we can spare that time to look each other in the eye and keep track of when sheep was first domesticated instead.
My husband did come from a gaming family. As a multi-generational group, they played Monopoly, Parcheesi, Yahtzee, and all the classic card games. My husband’s mother knows several different versions of solitaire. His uncle taught him and his sister Dungeons and Dragons (first edition!). With my in-laws’ influence, and meeting a crazy gaming friend in college, I became a gamer myself, passing it on to my kids. They in turn brought the new kinds of games, Settlers of Catan and on, into my husband’s family. Visiting them means everyone gathering round to game.
My kids are adults now, so for those of you with younger ones, I’m giving you advice from the other side: make time for games. Junior high can be tough, but Balderdash kept us laughing. Teen years have plenty of drama, so Forbidden Desert gave us an excuse to collectively freak out and work together. My mom lives upstairs and it’s only during Seven Wonders that we all chat about something other than what goes in the recycling bin. And when my daughter brought her college boyfriend to meet us, we broke out Sushi Go! to welcome him. Yes, serious conversations have to happen, but if there is no playtime too, home is something to escape.
We can say family time is important, but look at your schedule to find out where your priorities truly lie. Do you spend more time in the car driving to activities than at home all together? How much solo screen time takes up everyone’s evening? Consider the colder, darker months as a perfect opportunity to gather round indoors, play games, and renew family bonds.