Sunday, December 17, 2017

How to Include Toddlers in Family Games

Our family is HUGE on games. Our go-to for any family get-together activity is a board game or card game. We could play all day, laughing and yelling and really getting into good-natured competition.

And then came the first baby...

We could get away with playing games when my son, M, was a little baby, content with milkies and cuddles. But when he became more aware and curious about his surroundings, he was a destructive force during these game days. Plus, I felt bad that we were doing something the whole family, except for my little dude, could enjoy. He just wants to be included. And we want to include him!


Some games flat out won't work out with a toddler in the room. Do your game pieces need to maneuver the board safely? Forget about it. There's no hope. Retire that bad boy for another time a few years from now.

But if you have a game with some elasticity to the rules and gameplay, I encourage you to find a way to include the littlest members of your family. After all, family is family no matter the age, so family games should include everyone who wants to play. This will give your kids a strong sense of family and belonging.

To give you an example, Uno is one of our family favorites. My brother has like five versions of the game that we mash together to make a crazy, unpredictable game of Uno. One day this past summer, we played giant uno outside. M kept taking cards from each of us and handing them to other people. At first, we were like, "Well this isn't going to work. How are we supposed to play?" Then it dawned on me...


My kiddo could be the ULTIMATE WILD CARD. So basically whatever Ultimate Wild Card does, you go with it. If he takes some of your cards and gifts them to another player, awesome. If he steals some cards off the pile and hands them to you, too bad for you. We played the rest of the game this way. All of us, including my toddler, were laughing and having a great time.

Apply this Ultimate Wild Card principal to any game where you can bend the rules and add random fortune or misfortune. Be flexible, have fun, and remember that the time spent together is more important than playing the game "right."


If you try the Ultimate Wild Card method, leave a comment to let me know what you did and how it went! Need some inspiration? Leave a comment with the game you'd like to play, and I'll help come up with ways to include your toddler.

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