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Nighttime Activities for Dads With Energetic, Adventurous Boys

Does this picture remind you of your son?



This article is about ways for a father to connect with his "never gets tired" son who often loves physical adventurous play, but not all the ideas are physical and most work well with multiple kids. I have my own high-energy, adventurous loving young son in mind as I write. My own son reminds me of the energizer bunny. He has so much energy my wife and I have had to come up with ways to help him release his energy and simmer down for sleep. A few qualifiers...

  • There is always the risk of things getting broken when playing with a high-energy boy. Things like balls or pillows will fly through the air and MIGHT just knock something over. Either prepare for this or be willing to accept something may get broken now and then.
  • Safety. When wrestling on the living room floor and running around at night there is always the chance of a bruise or a scratch, and sometimes dad is the one who gets hurt. This is part of being a great dad!
  • Be a great dad, connect with your kids after dinner!

After Dinner Indoor Activities

  • Wrestling. Tried and true. "Can we wrestle?" my son will ask fairly often. Usually I don't want to, but I will. When he gets a bit bigger we won't do this. It's play wrestling. Your son is trying with all his might to pin you. He is discovering his strength. You are maybe going half-speed, and protecting yourself. Trash-talking and playful banter is great.
  • Bucking Bronco. Dad gets down on hands and knees like a horse and your son gets on your back. You dad begin to buck like a wild horse and your son tries to hang on. See how long he can hold on.
  • Steamroller. Dad gets on the floor and is the steamroller. You lay on the floor like you are laying down to sleep, fully extended, and roll back and forth like a steamroller. High energy son jumps over the steamroller as many times as possible. Dad the steamroller attempts to be fast enough to catch his son and roll over him. A certain couch may be a safe base. Two couches may both be safe and the son has to get from one to the other without being caught and run over by the steamroller. My son and I have had a lot of fun and laughter with this one.
  • Pass and catch. Yea something could get broken here. Our living room is big enough for this game. A soft ball or soft football is key. Your son runs through the room and you throw him the ball and he scores a touchdown, over and over.
  • Indoor basketball. Get an indoor little basketball hoop you can hang over the top of a door. There is no dribbling with those mini-basketballs you just try and score. You can also play "Horse" or "Pig." A grown man can still enjoy swatting away his son's shot, just don't overdue it.
  • "Get off my ship." The carpet or floor is the ocean. A certain couch dad is sitting on becomes the "ship" and dad is the captain of the ship. My son is the pirate attempting to board the ship. This wrestling game consists simply of my son trying to bury himself under the couch pillows while I wrestle him off and throw him back in the ocean. (the carpet) This game evolved from wrestling when I was too tired to get off the couch.
  • Throw the pillow. This is my favorite game with my son if I don't have much energy. Something might get broken if you are not careful. Dad sits on the couch with various couch cushions or small pillows. Son dances around in front of him as the living moving target. Sometimes son has a small pillow as a shield. Dad throws pillow or cushions at son attempting to knock him down. When you have "fired" all your pillows then reload and play again.
  • Hide and seek. It's a lot of fun to turn off the lights in the house at night and play Hide and Seek. This old game still have a great element of adventure and overcoming fear of the dark.
  • Sardines. This game requires the participation of mom, siblings, or other kids. Everyone gathers in one room of the house. One person then goes and hides alone as the "hider." All the lights are off or just a few low lights are left on. After counting off a minute or two everyone else individually goes off looking for the one person who hid. When a person discovers the "hider" they quietly squeeze into the hiding place with the "hider" like a sardine. The game ends when the last person finally discovers where everyone else is hiding with the "hider." The first person to discover the "hider" usually gets to be the next one to hide.

Dad becomes the "Steamroller"


After Dinner Nighttime Activities

  • Flashlight tag. You both have flashlights. One of you is it and gets to the count of 25 to hide. Pick a dark spot to hide. Agree on the boundaries of the game on where you can hide and not hide. When the one who is searching hits the "hider" with their flashlight the game is over and you switch roles.
  • Sardines. Same as above just played outside. You will need to find some more players.
  • Go for a walk. Everything looks different in the dark. Go for a walk in the dark in your neighborhood or town. (if it's safe to do so) If you live in the country a walk in the woods in the dark is very exciting. This allows your son to test his courage because you always hear or imagine much more when it's dark around you.
  • Ding-Dong Ditch/Ring and Run. This game goes by many different names. It's dark out. You covertly run up to someone's house, ring the doorbell, and RUN away and hide as fast as you can. Again, I know this won't work in every neighborhood. I tell my son which homes he can do and can't do. I do give him permission to ring and run the police officer who lives on our street because he's a good natured officer. You as dad need to maintain a safe distance so you can see your son pull off this daring feat while not being observed by the homeowner who is getting their doorbell rung.
  • Fires. There is always something special about building a great big fire with your son. Check your township codes and laws. Even with snow on the ground you can clear a space and make a memorable "heart of the winter" bonfire.

Bedtime Activities for Adventure-Loving Boys

  • Read a book to or with your son. My brother and his son loved reading the "Redwall" series together. Fantasy adventures such as the Chronicles of Narnia or Harry Potter may also fit the bill. "The Dangerous Book for boys" by Conn Iggulden has been a great find for my son and I. (How can you go wrong with such a cool name like Conn Iggulden?) This book is full of stories and facts on science, spiders, battles, tying knots, etc and is fun and fascinating for both father and son.
  • Stories. Your childhood stories and adventures. My kids all know and love many of my childhood stories where I got in major trouble with misadventures. It's a great way to bond for your kids to hear your stories. They will most likely want to hear them again. This also helps you to be able to share your more serious stories as your son becomes a teenager and young man.
  • History stories. You can find books for kids on famous people like George Washington or Martin Luther King Jr. My son loves stories of battles as well, so with a little research you can tell your son about D-Day, or Waterloo, or Gettysburg.
  • Make-believe stories. I made up a fantasy world for my son when he was younger. The main character was a boy named "Tom" (who happened to be just a year older than my son) who lived on Black Mountain in a cave and had a multitude of animal friends like Andrew Wolf and Billy Badger and so forth. The bad guy was Wicked Wolf with his evil coyote minions. Tom had lots of adventures searching for treasure deep inside Black Mountain or protecting Susie Skunk from the likes of Wicked Wolf. You can make up your own stories when they are real young.

Have some after dinner night-time fun and bonding with your energetic son!

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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