30 ways to build the father-child bond

30 Ways To Build Father-Child Bond
Fathers play a special role in our children’s lives.

“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

David Sim_Dana

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)

Two loves of my life. God has blessed us with much. Grateful.

A photo posted by June (@june_yong) on

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

26. Play board games / card games – start with simple Spot It, Set or Gobblet Gobblers.


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!

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5 things for your weekend

Ahhh…the weekend.

I’m looking forward to rest, play, and bask in the warm sun. Hopefully there is ample and yet cool enough weather. (I am wishful, I know.)

It’s the last few days of Chinese New Year, so here’s hoping that everyone gets to finish off your favourite new year goodies.

This week ahead, me and the man will be celebrating our 5th anniversary. (Gosh. Has it been 5 years already?)

If you find yourself with some minutes on your hands this weekend, you may want to explore some of these ideas / places.

1. Learn how to make a pinwheel (by Lisa Leonard Designs Blog). I tried it and it was fairly simple to do. Now the challenge is to fill up the rest of this rather empty wall with photos and other pretty things.


2. Design your own special lovey-dovey or crazy-funny ziploc bags (by ScissorsPaperStoneBlog)

3. Hoping for a simpler, more fruitful life? Read this post I wrote for World Moms Blog: 7 Ways to a Simpler, More Fruitful Life

4. Check out the new library @ Chinatown. (Heard it stocks a wide selection of Chinese books!)

5. Mull over this quoteTreat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them to become what they are capable of being. (Johann von Goethe)

I thought the quote is exceptionally applicable for parents. When we believe in our children and treat them as unique individuals, help them articulate their dreams and give wind to their sails, we help them to become what they are capable of being.

What an awesome thought…

May this weekend be filled with new inspiration for you, new discoveries, and lots of soaking in nature. May there be surprise pockets of time for you to tune in to your heart’s desires. Have a joyful weekend!

Let our children play! 20 easy ways to play at home

Play is a non-negotiable for kids. It’s a need, not a want. It’s the first thing on their minds when they wake up – even before breakfast – and probably also the last thing on their minds before they fall asleep.

As Prime Minister Lee himself also acknowledged in his recent National Day rally speech, we can and should let our children play during these precious preschool years.

However, due to the hurried lives we lead today, the odds seem to stand against play. The increasing attention being paid to academic development and enrichment activities goes against the grain of free and easy child-centered play.

All of that sounds pretty gloomy, but here is the good news. In spite of the competitive environment, you can make a choice to let your kids play. It’s easy and there are so many psychological, cognitive and social benefits to play. As psychologist Lawrence Cohen points out, play is a child’s way of exploring the world, communicating feelings, bonding with their care-givers, and dealing with stress and anxiety.

Most of all, I think play is a child’s special love language, so the more you play with them, the more love they’re receiving!

You don’t need state-of-the-art toys or the latest gadgets. You don’t need to invest hundreds of dollars. All you need is to put on your play-hat. Here are some ideas to get you started…

1. Alphabet workout! – Get your child to do the alphabet using their body. Allow them to use other props if necessary or even an accomplice, especially for letters like “H” (two people standing facing each other and joining hands). Easy fun for the family!

2. Play bowling with recycled drink bottles and a soft ball.

home bowling with recycled bottles

3. Pitch a tent in the living room and pretend you’re going camping.

4. Take out an old muffin tray and let your toddler have fun scooping pebbles from one part to another. Can also try sorting by colours.

5. Put on some fun music and dance with the kids. (Have you tried the Rhinoceros Tap? Hilarious fun!)

6. Make funny faces in the mirror and see who’s the funniest. (Capture these on camera and recap for a good laugh afterwards.)

7. Create a colourful “sand pit” with a large plastic container, some rice grains and food colouring, and give the kids scoops and pails. You can easily turn this into a craft session with some glue and drawing paper, but you may want to lay newspaper on the floor before doing this, or do this at the balcony or outdoors. (Tip: go easy on the food colouring, as a little goes a long way. Let the coloured rice dry first before playing.)

8. Play dress-up!

9. Explore nostalgic games with your kids such as five stones. Adjust the rules of the game according to your child’s age. For example, you can place a small hoop or draw a square on a paper, and ask your child to throw as many stones into the hoop / square as possible!

10. Bedtime silliness! Daddy or mummy gets to piggyback the kids to bed. Alternatively, you can try making a bedtime sandwich – where kids take turns getting squashed in between mummy and daddy. (Caution: Only try this with preschoolers and not infants okay?)

11. Concoct-a-potion using flour, water, food colouring. Try mixing in shaving cream or other gooey stuff lying in your house, just so you can see what happens. Bonus: Put on a wizard’s hat, and pretend you’re mixing a magic potion.

12. Pillow fight!

13. Read a book and act it out. This was actually an idea suggested by a reader on my recent post, We’re going on a bear hunt. The best part about this is that any good book can be inspiration for dramatic play, and you can improvise any way you like using whatever materials or “obstacles” you can find in the home. Great for building the imagination. Alternatively, do some craft-work inspired by the book. For instance, if your child loves The Hungry Caterpillar, you can try out these caterpillar crafts.

14. Peek-a-boo sensory play – this game is good for younger children and infants. Put different materials of different textures into a bag and let your child reach his hand in to touch. Use words to describe each specific material, such as “soft”, “tickly”, “rough”, and “furry”.

15. Name hopscotch – use crayon or chalk to draw boxes, and write each letter of your child’s name on each box, starting with the first box.

16. Crayon rocks – this was quite an accidental discovery. Fellow mum-blogger Evelyn was the one who introduced crayon rocks to me. Besides being easy for little hands to handle, I found that they were good for counting as well. You can also divide the colourful rocks into little groups like we’ve done below, to get a bit of math action. If you’d like to purchase some, you can find them from SG baby mall or FoxySales.

crayon rocks

17. Tear paper and guess the animal – Have you ever imagined clouds looking like animals? Well, this is simply that. Give your child different coloured pieces of paper and ask her to randomly tear them into different shapes. Guess what animal or object each piece looks like. You can further build on this game by turning it into a craft session – add on the different parts of the animal’s body onto it using crayons or whatever you have at home.

18. Puppet play – Puppets are fun props to have around the home. You can make them dance to music or better still, rope in the kids and create your own little puppet drama!

19. Pack a picnic and sit around the balcony to enjoy it. I can’t think of a better way to enjoy a picnic than in the great outdoors, so this comes a close second. The best part? Get everyone to close their eyes and make-believe they’re at a beautiful garden in a country of your choice. 😉

20. Make goopMix 1/2 cup of corn flour and 1/4 cup of water in a bowl, and add 2 to 3 drops of food colouring. It’s like  half dough, half body paint. Let the kids play and make a mess just before bath-time.

There! I’ve tried my best to keep these ideas simple and either costing nothing or next to nothing. And I really hope you guys have fun with them!

PS. Let your kids explore and use their imagination. You’ll be surprised to see how they build on a game or reinvent the rules. By all means, let them try different ways to play, and take their cue when they’re tired or want to do something else.

Loving ideas for your weekend

It’s the weekend, and I hope you’re in the mood for love. If he’s been busy or stressed out at work, offer to give him a shoulder-rub, brew a pot of your favourite tea and relax over a movie.

If both of you haven’t had the time to sit down and chat, schedule time to do so. Ask him questions: “How are you feeling?” or “How I can love you better?” Or try writing a love letter for him, especially if his love language is words of encouragement. (Even if it’s not, it’s okay. Write him a love letter anyway.)

If things have gotten a little tense in the home, head outdoors for a quiet walk and some fresh air. Let go of the negativity held inside you and fill the void with thoughts of love and hope.

Find a bench or sit by a tree, lean on each other and soak in nature and its peaceful offerings.

Listen to his dreams. Let him in on yours.

Re-discover what first attracted you to him, and him to you. Share these nuggets with each other and giggle if you need to.

Be silly. Do silly things. Be like fools in love.

I hope you make each other your priority this weekend. For once…the kids can wait. For you guys, it’s worth it.


Let’s go out! 4 fun-tastic ideas for outdoor family play

This guest post is written by Sarah from The Playful Parents. She is a real play enthusiast, and has infected many around her with the play bug (including me). She has reminded me that life with children should be about play, so let’s not take things too seriously, starting from today.

Here are some fun and easy ideas for outdoor play. Take it away, Sarah!


Tired of your usual haunts and in need for some fresh ideas on where to go as a family? Well, here are some ideas to set you off on brand new adventures. Best of all, they’re easy on your pocket, but big on fun!

#1. Discover & Conquer

You don’t have to travel far to find fun and adventures, really. As a non-car owner, I assure you that public transport travel with young children isn’t that scary or impossible. It is actually a rather wonderful way for our children to learn more about daily life.

Be a tourist around your neighbourhood. Head out on the bus, bike or on foot. Hit a street you’ve never been to before. I would dare say all neighbourhoods have gems waiting for us to discover. We just need to make the effort to look for them.

Butterfly-spotting: Trying to stand still long enough to see the butterflies

Try these neighbourhood conquests:

  • Play Trail: Do a playground hop to check out all the playgrounds. Perhaps you’ll be lucky and see if you can find any of the classic heritage Singapore playgrounds too!
  • Food Trail: Pick a favourite food and try every stall you find that sells it. Ask for recommendations from random strangers who live in the area. Search out the must-try stalls from online food bloggers.
  • Flora and Fauna Trail: Parks are fantastic treasure troves of biodiversity and great for kids to just run about. Go bird-watching or butterfly-spotting.  Singapore’s NParks has produced several fantastic guides and walking trails for you to download. I highly recommend exploring the park connector trails. Or how about going on a hunt for these10 Trees in Singapore?

# 2. Host An Outdoor Olympics

The Terrific Tot-lympian: Trying to cross a hurdle in his path

  • Bubbles. Play Blow and Pop: Someone blow up bubbles while another chases and pops them.
  • Catching in its many variants old and new: Police and Thief, Fire and Ice.  I especially enjoy the co-operative catching games where a group has to work together against the ‘catcher’ like  Eagle Catching the Chicks ( Lao Ying Zhua Xiao Ji) and What’s the time, Mr Wolf?( similar to Grandmother’s Footsteps).
  • Ball games: Basketball, football, volleyball, poison ball, monkey ball.
  • Sack races: An oldie-but-goodie that is good both indoor and outdoor.
  • Obstacle Races: Gather some neighbours and their children to have an obstacle race! Here’s a starter planning list.

# 3. Do Outdoor Art

How about letting the outdoors inspire you and your young ones? Pack up your art materials and sit at a nearby park to draw or paint. Crayons, watercolours-in-a-box and a sketch book are easily portable. Even better, use Nature itself to create art.

Stick + Sand + Kids = Artistic Fun!

Here is more mess-free stuff to try:

  • Chalk drawing: For a twist, bring along a water spray filled with water. Spray water on chalk drawings and see how your art changes.
  • Family Profile Silhouettes: Find a sunny spot. Stick up cardstock on the wall. Stand in front of the paper. Trace the silhouette cast. Cut along the outlines.
  • Water painting: All you need are brushes and some bottles of water to paint the floor.
  • Outdoor sculptures: Gather twigs, leaves, stones and whatever catches your fancy to construct your sculptures.
  • Make a kite and fly it!

#4. Go Geo-Caching: Contemporary Treasure Hunt

Have you heard of geocaching? It’s a ‘real world’, treasure hunt game you play using GPS devices. Many cities and countries around the world have geocaches so if you’re truly adventurous, you could even do this on your holiday. Here is a list of current geocaches in Singapore. Click here to find out more about how geocaching works!

For more playful ideas, do check out The Playful Parents.

About Sarah, Family Play Advocate

Sarah is an educator-storyteller-writer turned domestic circus ring mistress. She currently runs her circus show 24/7 starring 3 males, and counting. It can be a mad yet fulfilling life. A passionate advocate for more playfulness in life, Sarah enjoys sharing ideas and resources on practical ways to live more creatively, artfully and playfully on her blog. Swing on by and say ‘hello’ to other Playful Parents like you!

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