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  1. I love this. Any ideas to turn it around when the kids are a little older like tweens? Some of these will still work for about another minute, but they will soon start to think I’m quite lame when I try these.

    1. I suggest playing up the eye roll factor and lean into the silliness. For example, with copy cat game, “are you really going to turn down a chance to make fun of how silly your mom’s expression is?” or “are you turning down the chance to make your dad try the TikTok dance move you mastered?” One upping parents which is super tempting to my teen, even when it’s with the parents intentionally playing along. Or for the pick a hand, maybe throw in something they value when cuddles are rejected or play up the teen ickies to silly. Example, this hand is getting extra screen time or hand is I’ll paint your nails or hand is you can do my makeup/hair/outfit for dinnertime/next time they must be seen in public with you, or hand is to go outside and play their preferred sport with them for fifteen minutes even if you are horrible at it. Example for sillies, if you don’t want your hair mussed you better play chase now then let them mess up your hair after you intentionally lose the effort to tousle theirs. My teen’s mood lightens when winning even if it’s something small. Play up the how big of an eye roll can I get out of you. Permission for the teen crankies sometimes helps dissipate them.

  2. Great list. Copy cat is a great idea I hadn’t thought of. We definitely do family dance parties. One way to make it fun for everyone is to take turns choosing the song. Another tried & true one is to just go outside. Even if it just to sit on the porch or do nothing, being outdoors seems to calm everyone.

  3. I love these ideas! My 3 boys love a game of Hug tag, although they are getting really fast and I have to work hard to catch them. Another little thing my kids love is the kissy elevator. Whenever they see my husband and I hugging, they will rush over and ask for a ride. My husband and I will lift them up (sometimes 2 at time) and we all smother each other in kisses. You can’t help but feel happy after a ride in the kissy elevator!

  4. The list is amazingly long. I thought the only way to recharge emotional energy was cuddling. Thanks for great tips.

  5. Hi Kelly, I read this article yesterday and used two of your games to play with my toddler today, the “surprise” one and “copycat”. I predicted my toddler would love them and she did, what i didn’t expect was how much I enjoyed our connection! Thanks for your article! By the way are the family conversation startera suitable for 3 year olds or should I wait a few more years?

  6. Val Sklarov says:

    It seems that parenting has never been harder than in this generation. Our busy schedules often mean that we do not have enough time to bond with our children. The information presented here is a gold-mine for every parent that has a busy schedule. The games suggested by the author are easy and practical.

  7. I would love these seven ideas as a printable. Somewhere I can keep in the house. We need all the ideas we can get to remember to be goofy with our kids when they’re melting down instead of discipline!

  8. These are so wonderful. Love them all!! Thank you SO much.

  9. This is a great list, thank you so much!
    What age were your kids able to do them? I feel like my 2 year old would just say “I don’t know” to a lot of them (copycat, circle conversations, etc)

  10. I tried the surprise game with my 8 year old son. He chose a hand, it was a hug, he chose another hand, 50 kisses. He thought it was hilarious and it was so sweet to connect with him. It put us right on track to have a wonderful day together. I giggled to myself when I was alone that it really worked! Great advice mama!

  11. I love the surprise game idea and family cuddles! These are great ideas, thanks for sharing.

  12. Thanks I was struggling but now the way you explain from everyone point of view . I can gather my boys and try it .

  13. Watching family photos or old videos of the kids together.

  14. Love it! Can’t wait to try some of these out with my littles

  15. Printable Escape Rooms are really great bonding activities! Would love to send over some for you to test. :)