My mission to find new ways to entice my teenagers to make more time for family activities (and less time for tech) continues. Now that the weather is warming up, the options are widening – and our early successes with indoor caving and climbing and bouldering have predisposed the teens (just a little) to come along for the ride.
The trickiest bit is finding family activities that all of us will enjoy. Two of us like running: two don’t. I love high ropes: my husband thinks they are hell on earth. We all enjoy bowling – but I’m not convinced that bowling really counts as a high-energy family activity?
So, as you can imagine, there have been lots of compromises along the way. Here’s what we have been up to since the last edition (see Fun family activities to tear teens away from tech: Part I).
Swinging through the trees
February’s taster of an indoor high ropes course whet our appetites. So as soon the temperature ventured over five degrees we decided to check out our local Go Ape for a back-to-nature high ropes experience. As family activities go, this isn’t a cheap option, but the Go Ape course we did was long and challenging (it takes 2-3 hours to complete the whole thing) and it was definitely high quality family time. My youngest teenager spoke to me more in those two hours than he had done all week! And because Go Ape has a rule that you all have to stay together, my teens couldn’t tear off ahead and leave me trailing behind so it really felt like teamwork. It was a wee bit cold to be sure – we may have jumped the gun on the weather in our eagerness – but it was a really precious joint experience with a lot of laughing and whooping and a little bit of digging deep to overcome fear. A great afternoon out (but don’t forget to wear two pairs of socks as the forest is cold!).
The amazing phenomenon that is parkrun
If you haven’t heard of parkruns and you are the slightest bit interested in having fun and getting fit outdoors, without the gym fees but surrounded by a wonderful community spirit then check out your local parkrun. These are free, organised 5km runs in local parks that are suitable for serious runners, fun runners, teenagers, families, children, walkers and (usually) dogs.
Parkruns are a real community event – lycra-clad marathon runners jostle with casual joggers, with dogs, with eight-year-olds splashing through puddles and with sleep-deprived dads with muddy buggies. And because parkruns are so inclusive, there is genuinely a place for every member of the family to participate. For me, this means walking the dog and drinking coffee while my husband runs (with or without a teen or two) then mustering enthusiasm when one of them knocks a second off their personal best. But if the prospect of that PB has got them out of bed on a weekend morning then I am more than happy to do it!
Burgers and Bowling Shoes
The teenagers chose bowling when my dad was visiting for a few days along with my younger niece and nephew. Our options for family activities were limited due to the age spread and rubbish weather and bowling certainly served the purpose of keeping them all engaged and interested for a couple of hours. But by the time you have paid for parking and bought burgers and drinks and subbed them all a few turns on the arcade machines it adds up to a not very cheap option but without being very special either. And I always go home after bowling feeling just a little disappointed and a bit disorientated from lack of sunlight. Is that just me?
Muddy Mountain Biking
After a brilliant mountain biking experience last summer in Snowdonia (at Coed-y-Brenin), we have been eagerly awaiting a bit of sunshine and some frost-free ground to get the bikes back out. Boys riding fast down hill over jutting rocks and slippery gravel definitely gives me the maternal heebie-jeebies but pushing themselves to the edge and narrowly escaping injury does seem to motivate my teenagers to get off the sofa so I just go with the flow and try not to wince too noticeably.
If you don’t have bikes, you can usually hire them at most mountain biking hubs (we use Swinley Bike Hub). The MTB trails are free to use and make it really easy to choose a route that will suit all abilities (though getting lost is my speciality and the kids do seem to have inherited that particular trait….). And, unlike road-biking, you can actually talk while mountain biking – the teens’ conversations tend to go something like “Did you see that?! Did you see that?! That was amazing! Can we do it again?! Did you see that?!” If you haven’t tried mountain biking, give it a go.
If you have a whole weekend to spare then try these ideas for fun family weekends with teenagers. Or, try these ideas for keeping teens off tech in the school holidays. If you have a suggestion for fun family activities that are good for teenagers, please drop me a comment below – I’d love to know about it!
This is not a sponsored post but we were grateful to receive free entry into Go Ape for review purposes. The opinions expressed are very much my own. See Disclosure Notice for more info.
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