On my recent reader survey someone asked, “What kind of activities do you and Tony-Bear do with your adult kids now that your nest is empty?”
I wonder if she really meant to ask:
“How do you get your kids to come visit once they’re ‘grown and flown?’”
Host “Family Suppers”
This was actually our middle-child’s idea. She and her younger brother live here in town.
Cody Brook suggested we eat supper together once a week, and maybe even rotate between homes. Alas, with everyone’s crazy schedules, weekly family suppers turned out to be too ambitious. Sharing a monthly meal is more realistic for us.
In addition to eating together, here’s a list of fun activities to enjoy with adult kids.
Each card in a Vertellis deck features a question that inspires meaningful conversation. We played this card game last Thanksgiving and again this Easter. Wow, did we have great discussions!
I bought our Vertellis cards on Amazon, but you could make your own. Just jot down “deep” questions on scratch paper. For each round, a question is asked and everyone takes turns answering.
Dig out your family photo albums
Take a walk down memory lane with your adult kids by looking through family pictures together.
- Go through each child’s “baby album.” Describe what that day was like.
- Look at family photos, telling stories along the way.
- Check out pictures from your childhood and your spouse’s.
- Put photos into albums together (Does anyone do this anymore?).
Enjoy some friendly competition with your adult kids
Since our son-in-law played tennis in college, he and our daughter usually have their rackets in their car. When they visit, we often head out to a local court to hit some balls. To “level the playing field,” Chris plays with his non-dominant hand.
How about ping pong?
Down at our warehouse we have a ping-pong table. Our family loves to play singles, doubles, and “Around the World.”
Who doesn’t love mini golf?
Every Father’s Day we head to Coal Country, a mini golf course about 30 minutes away, where all the holes feature coal mining equipment. Afterward, we always enjoy ice cream at Dairy Creme Corner. Where a soft serve ice cream cone, size small, is almost as big as your head.
Paint Ball, Nerf Gun, or Laser Tag, Your Call
One of the funnest (is that a word?) things we’ve ever done as a family was play Capture the Flag + Nerf Gun War inside our warehouse. With all the lights turned out.
We’ve also played laser tag at Valley Worlds of Fun in Fairmont, an indoor amusement park of sorts. That was hilarious as well.
Teach your adult kids how to prepare your family’s traditional food items
For the last two years, I’ve had help making our family’s beloved, but seriously labor-intensive, Wedding Soup.
Making hundreds of meatballs goes way faster when you have two or three people helping you roll the tiny spheres. Ditto with the wee-tiny dough balls that you have to cut and fry by the dozens prior to soup-making time.
Whatever your family’s favorite traditional foods are, set aside a Saturday to teach your kids how to make them. Afterwards, give them recipes for all the things you made together.
Create new traditions
Last Christmas we created a fun new holiday tradition. We had always made it a point to watch the movie “Elf” sometime during the holiday festivities, but last year we added a new twist. We all wore ugly Christmas clothing.
Our son wore a kooky suit jacket that featured Christmas kitties. Our daughter wore a sweater vest that was my mom’s. Actually, my mom and Tony’s outfitted all of us girls.
Can you Escape (the) Room?
I’m proud to say our family has done and won both challenges offered by the Escape Room in our town. We found beating the clock to be deliciously difficult.
Helpful Hint: It helps to have a smarty-pants or two in your group.
Confession: I have not tried this activity yet. However, I have heard rave reviews from friends who have. Apparently each group gets a lane all to themselves. And, nearby there are tables where you can lay out your own spread of snacks and drinks.
Mountain Man Axe-Throwing in Morgantown touts the activity as a go-to form of fun for bachelor parties, reunions, and team-building, but I definitely want to try it as a fun family outing.
At the end of last year I took a cooking class with a group of gal pals out at My Kitchen. What a fun night it was.
Chef Chris, the genius behind the operation, didn’t stand up front and lecture us. Instead, he divided us into three groups which each made 3-4 dishes. Then we chowed down and wow, was it delicious!
As you can see from his website, there are lots of classes and cooking styles to choose from. Next time the whole family is town, I’m going to surprise them with a lesson.
Remember playing four-square?
When I was little, I LOVED to play four-square. At school on the playground, at my friend Lisa’s house down the street. My love for the game was revived when I visited the school where my daughter Josy teaches and her fifth-graders begged me to play four-square with them. It was a blast!
This year during Easter weekend, I asked my son-in-law to draw a four-square court on our driveway with sidewalk chalk. We had so much fun–the six of us plus three little boys from next door.
I highly recommend you give this a try in your driveway or on your street, if there’s not too much traffic. If you don’t remember how to play, watch this video.
Kinder, gentler volleyball
An “official” volleyballs hurts like heck when it hits your body parts with great force. That’s why our family uses a blow-up beach ball whenever we play volleyball. No one gets fire engine red forearms. No one breaks a nail. Hooray!
Another volleyball “hack” is using a badminton net. The poles are way easier to stick into the ground and the net is lower too. And of course, once you have the net up, you can also use it for badminton.
We used to rent a cabin in the woods every year to celebrate New Year’s. We stayed in cabins at Blackwater Falls, Deep Creek, Maryland, and Hocking Hills, Ohio, to name a few destinations. All were great, especially the cabins with a hot tub!
Chances are, you and your family are already enjoying this activity. You know the cool hikes around your town. Your kids know the great trails close to their locale. Hiking is also useful for walking off a big meal, like Sunday brunch.
Try singing while you hike.
One of my fondest memories is hiking with my family while on vacation, singing, “In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight.”
I haven’t yet done this myself, but I know families who volunteer at soup kitchens or homeless shelters during the holidays. Some folks help serve Thanksgiving supper, for instance. I think this is a fantastic idea.
We used to have a ton of fun taking family bike hikes on our local rail trail. When your kids grow up though, in order to continue to enjoy bike hikes, they’ll need to haul their bikes home. Or you can rent them, if you have a bike rental shop where you live.
Note: Don’t be too overzealous, mileage-wise, if some or all of the individuals in the group don’t ride on a regular basis. If you bike too many miles on your first outing in a long while, you’ll most likely be sore in the seat for a few days.
Tony Bear and I are not huge fans of camping because, well, sleeping on the ground. Even so, we have planned a camping trip with our adult kids this summer. For one night. Who knows? Maybe it’ll change our mind!
My friend Dana says she and her husband love to play “Guitar, Hero” with their adult kids. I can see where that would be fun.
Raise a glass with your child
Once your child is old enough to drink alcohol, if they like it (and not everyone does) it can be great fun on occasion to responsibly enjoy an adult beverage. At home or out on the town.
There’s plenty of other options: going to see concerts, plays, and lectures. Going on vacation together. I’d suggest Monster Dodgeball, but I’m not sure it’s offered everywhere.
What about you, what activities do you enjoy with your adult kids?