Fun Stuff, Getting started, Making it work, Need some help, Tips & Lists

Co-parenting Dad Hack: Game Day Extravaganza

Combating screen time, Dad’s Game Day Extravaganza throws all aside and allows kids to revel in an all day blow out of all of their favorite games and titles.
(4 min 14 sec read)

Dave Chartier
A single co-parenting dad, a freelance writer and former syndicated dad blogger with work published in USA Today, Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.

A big parenting issue for, most parents, is screen time for their kids and it’s even more difficult in a co-parenting relationship where the parents do not agree on it. I’m one of the lucky ones where my co-parent and I are on the same wavelength about managing and mitigating the amount of screen time our kids get. Digital screen time is a commodity of high value in our homes. The threat of lost screen time tends to get my kids to sit up straight and get in line. Although this mostly has to do with their access and exposure to video games it extends into time watching show, and time on the internet.

I have no control over what my co-parent does to counter screentime, but on my end I have instituted Dad’s Game Day Extravaganza that throws all aside and allows my kids to revel in an all day blow out of all of their favorite games and titles. True to the four tenets of happiness, by anticipating it (the happiness), I prolong the whole thing like Christmas, Chinese New Years and ten birthdays rolled into one by announcing a month out with the date, and start time. Two weeks out, I announce the Game Day theme. The theme changes (*last one was ‘Destroy or Conquer!’) and allows me to shake things up with the roster of games so they are always doing something new. Honestly, the kids run with the theme and build most of the day’s events on their own.

What exactly happens on Game Day? There are games of many sorts, not just video games. There are board games, races, contests and random prizes sprinkled throughout. Game Day usually starts early, like 7:30a, because that’s how you do it. Game Day is an all-day affair, usually 7-9 hrs of straight unadulterated fun.

It involves a complete departure from well-balanced meals and snacks with the kids getting a free pass with 110% junk food, this is one of the few times of the year this happens so when it happens ~it’s kinda crazy.

I have a black erase board that has many columns and rows describing the contestants (kids), the games and the running scores. I tend to work hard in the background to balance the type and order of games so no one has an emotional blow out if someone is clearly crushing all of the events. I also tend to provide ‘surprises’ for everyone every third game. Game Day averages about 10-13 games.

You can obvious riff off any of this, but here ia an example of a Game Day plan in our house;

  • Timed Fortnight Match, all three kids in the map at the same time. Most kills and highest rank in 15 minutes
  • Two more video games of their choice (*15-20 minutes each) abiding by the Game Day theme
  • Watermelon eating contest (*doubles as a snack break) – first one done, wins Another favorite is a soda burping contest, which is a real crowd pleaser.
  • Lightning round of Bingo – choose your pattern (*not full card) and can use multiple cards, winner takes all.
  • Bean bag toss/corn hole (horseshoes, ring toss, basketball free-throws, et al.) – highest points after 15 tosses per kid
  • Wall Ball (4 square, ping pong, foosball, all alternates) – elimination rounds, best of three matches to 11 ~I use this to by me time to set-up lunch
  • Connect Four – Elimination, best of three ~they usually help clean up but in this case, I clean while they play
  • Two more video games of their choice (*15-20 minutes each) while they digest their food. These tend to be some sort of retro game; Mario Cart, Donkey Kong, Pac Man, etc.
  • Race – each kid gets two chances to run around the block. Weighted points for best time and encouraging each other each heat (sportsmanship)
  • Lightning Round of Lemonade Stand (Alexa Game) – this is a spoken word game we play with a Amazon Alexa hub. We do best of three rounds per kid for the highest profit
  • Grand Finale – I take them to a self-serve yogurt/ice cream place and they have to build the Best Looking, Best Tasting, or Best Concept ~everyone wins here. They like watching those kids cooking shows so they really get into this.
  • Winners announced – everyone gets a prize, high-fives and photos are taken

Having done this a few times I have learned to weight and jigger the events to play to each kids’ strengths and weaknesses, so the overall score throughout the day is quite close. It tends to be pretty easy to do because the kids are VERY cooperative, generally more helpful than usual (i.e. set-up, clean-up) and by the end of the day they are dog tired and all smiles.

As you can imagine, this is pretty well received by the kids. You can save this for a rainy day, a snow day, or a ‘staycation’ of sorts. Whatever it does for you and your quality time with your kids, you’ll get the unique opportunity to build some fun memories.

Related Articles: