Provide us with varying levels of engagement.

This morning I saw a mom and her daughter, quietly sitting next to each other as mom read the newspaper and girl played on the phone. It got me started thinking about different types of activities that we all partake in, and made me wonder about the possibility of creating a new one.

Most activities that we do with our kids fall into one of two categories: 1.) We’re together and doing the same thing, like a board game, or 2.) we’re in different rooms doing our own activities. There are times that we’re in the same room, but doing separate things, like the mom and daughter this morning. 

But what if there were activities that we were doing together, but didn’t have to be fully engaged with each other? In a sense, watching TV together falls into this category, which is why I think it’s such a desirable activity. We get many positives, such as spending time together and taking a mental & physical break. You even get something to talk about afterwards. So why does watching TV get such a bad wrap? There’s the “screen time” argument, but more importantly, 90% of TV programming is garbage. My mom used to say “it rots your brain.” I’m not sure I’d go that far, but it’s not great. Or, take Words With Friends. The game has achieved so much success, at least partially, because they figured out how to take a game that previously required a real-time engagement and enabled people to play together, just not at the same time.

What else could parents and kids do together, that would be fun, productive, and support togetherness? I’m reminded of the Exquisite Corpse games that I’d play as a kid. You know, one person draws the head of a character and other people draw the torso and feet and everyone has a good laugh at the end with the big reveal. The reason I like this type of activity so much is that it has all of the positives of doing activities together and the benefits of not doing things together.

How else could we help parents and kids participate in activities that would enable them to spend quality time together, but take the much-needed break at the same time?