I really appreciate my wife! That’s always true, but it was especially true several weeks back when she left for a weekend to speak at a ladies retreat. In these moments, I miss her organization and natural ability with our four kids. On this weekend, she left on Friday and came back late Sunday afternoon. For the weekend, I was officially on dad patrol.

Now, again, I’m not as organized as she is. So, if I’m not careful, we will have a weekend with nothing but cartoons, iPads, and video games. Here are some easy things I’ve found that help me manage extended “Dad times” in a way that is meaningful and memorable.

  1. Backyard camping. Our kids love to sleep outside. And, pitching a tent in the backyard is something they always want to do. It’s simple and creates a lot of time with them that they will remember.
  1. Camp fires. We obviously do this on the nights we pitch a tent in the back yard, but it’s also something that we do at others times as well. I’ve found that my kids are far more likely to talk with me and open up when we sit around a fire.
  1. Swimming pools. Now that all my kids can swim, the pool is always a hit. Swimming expends their energy and lets us all get some exercise while having fun. Diving toys, jump contests, races, Marco Polo…the activities are endless at the pool!
  1. Books. The importance of reading with our kids cannot be understated. So, instead of using the TV as a pacifier, pick up a book and read to them! As Dads, we can use fun voices and add in fun sound effects that make reading aloud fun.
  1. Game night. Kids love to play games, especially mine. I tend to be a little bit more competitive than my wife when playing games with the kids, and they get such a kick out of it. Laugh together. Compete together. Spend time making memories. (Some of our favorite family games are: Sequence, Dominoes, Monopoly, Chutes and Ladders, and Sorry!)

I hope that this list will help you plan some fun things to do with your kids!