At the start of the pandemic, our youngest had just turned 3 and our oldest was 5 and would be graduating from kindergarten in a few short (or long) months. With a lot more time together at home, we soon started playing games at the end of the day to simply have fun, but an added benefit was that it helped alleviate mine and my husband's mounting stress. Laughter is a great stress reliever, so in my opinion - the more you can laugh as a family the better!
Some of the first games we played early on were Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders, but in my opinion Candy Land gets old pretty quick and my youngest didn't always seem to have the attention span for Chutes and Ladders. Still, they're both great games for this age. After all these months, we still play games together regularly and we're often trying new games as the boys grow and develop, but the ones listed below are family favorites.
For our family, we prefer to have some game time after dinner because we can enjoy one another after a long day and it helps the boys wind down for the evening. If we didn't play games, the boys would likely be watching more YouTube or roughhousing, both of which I can only tolerate for so long. The following games are some of our current family favorites because they are low-key and keep everyone engaged. Some you may already have, but all can be purchased at little to no cost. Another bonus to regular family game play is how much you learn about one another. For instance, Eli catches on to new games quickly, sometimes faster than us, and both Ed and Evan have quite impressive memory skills. My memory skills are not so impressive, but maybe that's a mama thing.
PRO TIP: Scour second-hand stores for games and puzzles. You can usually check before purchase that all pieces are included, but if so you can get some great deals on what might become your family favorites.
Favorite Family Games
These make our favorites list because they are all low-cost and no frills, just straight fun for all ages and can easily be packed for a road trip, camping, or picnic.
Memory: We play with this set made by IKEA which is now discontinued I think, but the abstract artwork is amazing and makes the game slightly more challenging. I suggest purchasing one that has 24-36 pairs because you can always play with less and work your way up. Also, pictures matter! So get something the entire family will like, maybe like this, this, or this.
Spot it!: This one is a lot of fun and although it states 6+, our 3 year old has no problem it. Sometimes I play one-on-one with him and give him hints (i.e. color) if he's having a hard time spotting it!
Old Maid and Go Fish: Card games are great for all ages, but these are easy for the little ones to follow along. We have a set that also includes Crazy 8s (similar to Uno), which we always toss into our travel bag.
Red Light Green Light: Another easy card game to help the littles learn sequencing.
I Spy: You don't need anything for this one! You can also play in Spanish "Veo, veo"!
Hot and Cold: Again, no purchase necessary! Take turns hiding an object and guide others as they search for the object by saying "hot" (near) or "cold" (far).
PRO TIP: As your kids get used to family games, you can easily jump into a game when in need of a good distraction. I Spy is great when you're waiting anywhere and everyone's feeling impatient or restless.
PRO TIP: Keep a deck of playing cards in the car for fun anywhere!