This post was originally written in July 2021 for Hemispheric News; subscribe at the Patreon site One Prime Plus to receive this monthly newsletter and other benefits that are linked to the Hemispheric Views podcast.

I am a father of two boys. One is 9 (almost 10!) and the other is 5 ½. I work in a fairly flexible capacity whereas my wife has a highly demanding job that has significant variability. Our time as a family is precious, but sometimes difficult to co-ordinate. So when we do have good quality time together, we want to make it count.

It’s a challenge to find things to do with as a family that meets all the necessary criteria:

  1. Entertaining to the children individually.
  2. Entertaining to the children mutually.
  3. Entertaining for us as parents.
  4. Engaging for all of us (ideally).

You might think this would be easy. You might have lovely ideas of joyous, considerate play. No. And no.

This is (to coin an Australianism) bloody hard.

While the easy answer is electronic, iPads, Nintendo Switch, Netflix, this isn’t necessarily the most appropriate answer. I do have a need to find entertainment that incorporate activity and engagement with all the family members.

An extra challenge to throw into the mix is that my eldest has autism. This can make him cantankerous and difficult to get to engage in things that he hasn’t done before or that he doesn’t have confidence in his own ability to do (well, immediately).

Recently we have gone to a couple of old classics, and some newer classics. We have played some rounds of Uno. The great thing about this is that our 5 year old can play - and sometimes win - with no skill required. He knows colours and numbers and can understand the concept of matching. Sure, Draw Two and Reverse are beyond him, but that’s okay with a bit of parental support.

We’ve also played Skip-Bo. To be fair, Hannah and I have enjoyed this more than the kids.

Other board games have included Settlers of Catan (Junior) and Cards Against Humanity (Family Edition), and Clue-Do (Harry Potter Edition).

Co-host Jason Burk has also suggested Society of Curiosities. This I am yet to try, but I am keen to give it a go.

Can you recommend any entertainment options that might suit my family and get them away from their screens for a while longer? I’d appreciate your suggestions. Fire them back to me via the Discord so that others can benefit too! In no time at all, Martin will be having these sort of challenges with Mac. He’s a baby now, but that won’t last long!