“We know from scores and scores of studies that a loving father is crucial to a child’s happiness, well-being, and success, and that children who lack a loving father are at a much greater risk for drug abuse, depression, and many other problems. Sons need fathers to express their love in three ways: by giving time, by showing affection, and by refusing to ever give up on a son.” – Boys Should Be Boys, Meg Meeker
But dads also bear the heavy responsibility of supporting the family, and often work long hours outside of the home. When they’re home, they’re usually exhausted and try their best to spend time with the little ones – who in turn would want their attention.
So here’s a list of ideas to help dads make the most of the limited time/energy that they have, to build strong bonds with their kids.
1. Wash the car together and have a splashing good time!
“My girls love being “helpful” and given the chance to be splashing about in water, squeezing wet towels and using the hose, it is not hard to see why. It is a daddy and daughters thing and they know it.” – A Dollop of Me
Photo credit: Life’s Tiny Miracles
2. Play sports together“Daryl goes jogging with Noey on Saturday mornings. He also exercises with Naomi; she helps hold his legs down when he does sit ups.” – Life is in the Small Things
“When I realised the kids are getting faster each day, I was motivated to run. When we do sports together, kids learn about discipline, independence, sportsmanship, never giving up, and striving for the next milestone.” – Sengkang Babies
3. Make curious pancakes together – Instead of boring round pancakes, try making special shapes with the pancake mix and chocolate sauce. (Below: JJ was so happy when daddy made him a transformer pancake! This was at Slappy Cakes btw…)
4. Go on wild roller coaster rides
“We scream loudly on wild roller coaster rides to bond with my daughter. I’m an ‘old’ parent – one with a significant age gap with my kids so I try to do thrilling and ‘extra’ memorable activities with my daughter when my knees and heart can still take it.” – Life’s Tiny Miracles (David)
5. Go on car rides to run errands
“On weekends when we want to have takeaway breakfast at home, the dad will take one of the kids in his car (cos can only sit one) for a drive and buy food back. It’s usually Teanne who follows him because Thad prefers to stay at home where the TV is. He likes to take the daughter out as if on a date, so it works out fine.” – Missus Tay
6. Go trekking or camping, explore the great outdoors
“My hubby likes to bring the children out. He is the lead bringing them to the beach to catch crabs/fish, cycling, BBQ session and lots of nature walk at Sungei Buloh and parks. When the children were younger, he will bring them out for kite flying too.” – BPDG Travels
7. Head to the beach and build sandcastles
8. Go on an “open date” and let the child decide what he wants to do
9. Read a daddy-exclusive book together
“Before the kids go to sleep, the dad will read a chapter from a children’s book of short stories. At the end of each story, there are questions to facilitate a short discussion, which is when there’s a chance for some general parent-child chit-chat which the kids look forward to. I usually try not to read to them from the same book, so that there’s a sense of exclusiveness.” – Owls Well blog
10. Build Lego together
“The husband loves to build Lego with my three-year-old. It’s their thing because mama here has no aptitude for Lego. He works late and makes it home just in time before the older boy goes to bed so this is his chance to spend time with him. They build roads and fire engines and spaceships and trains and school buses. It’s quite funny to see the preschooler make up stories as he goes!” – Yannisms
11. Play Xbox together
“Father and son bonds over Xbox games. Blake learns how to be a team player, lead when he has to, follow when he’s not leading.” – Amazingly Still
12. Wrestle and rough play – The best part about this one is that dads automatically and naturally love rough and tumble games. Or you can take a cue from The “Perfect” Father and lift your child like weights.
13. Do household chores together – The only catch is you have to make them fun. (I know mums will nod their heads at this one)
14. Teach your child a cool magic trick
15. Teach your child how to swim / cycle / rollerblade (not necessarily in this order)
16. Turn up some dance music and rock and roll
17. Play tickle games
18. Do mad scientist things together “My hubby researches for fun science experiments to do with the kids. He recently DIY-ed a hologram projector and it wowed not only the kids but me too! We are waiting for his bigger and better version to be completed!” – SAys! Happy Mums
19. Do nerdy things together, like coding “Hubby is the one who teaches AJ programming & pencil sketching. AJ loves programming ever since he was first exposed to it. Now, when his daddy is available, he will ask him to coach him. It is a time AJ looks forward to.” – My Lilbookworm 20. DIY cool things together.
Dad’s project with Dot – a DIY car that can zoom around. #DIY #DotCraftyTime #evian @evianwater A photo posted by prunenurture (@prunenurture) on
21. Pick up a new hobby together – Chess, guitar, music, or building remote control cars perhaps. What else will be fun to learn together?
JJ “teaching” daddy the latest songs he learnt at class.
22. Fix broken things in the house – or how about assembling some IKEA furniture, anyone?
23. Make popcorn and watch a movie together
“In our family, the hubby likes to build Lego Duplo houses with the girls or snuggle in front of the TV for a good movie together.” – The Loving Mum
24. Play games that move your body (Great for kinesthetic learners!)
“They play special kinesthetic games like forming letters whilst lying down.” – Lil Blue Bottle
25. Cook (and eat) together
“He’s the chef in the family and every week or so he would make hainanese chicken rice. He takes out the whole succulent chicken and calls for the kids. They would fetch their little stools and gather around him all squashed in the kitchen while he chops it up and feeds them their fave random pieces as he assembles the presentable parts on the serving plates.” – Mummywee
27. Involve your child in your work – Maybe you work at an office where they’re relaxed about bringing children when you have to work overtime or on weekends. Why not bring your child there to have a look around, and understand what you do at work?
28. Travel with one kid at a time – like this The “Perfect” Father.
29. Pray with your little one every night. 🙂
30. Go for a museum / aquarium sleepover.
I hope you enjoyed this list, and that it’s given you some new ideas to play and spend time with your child. It doesn’t take a lot of money or complex toys / gadgets, but the time you spend engaging with them makes a world of difference.
Which is your fave bonding activity? Do you have a good daddy-child bonding idea to share with us? Please do so by leaving a comment!