How to Keep Kids Engaged While Boating
Today’s generation of kids have traded skinned knees for cracked phone screens. It’s increasingly difficult to get our children away from their technology and into reality. So how do we pry their eyes off those handheld devices and onto the beautiful world around them?
You always hear people telling their kids to go outside and play. But how often have you heard them tell their kids to get on the water and play? Boating is one of the best ways to make family memories that last a lifetime, and it may just even free your child from their cellular shackles.
So, you’ve succeeded in getting them away from their phones. Nice. Unfortunately, sometimes their attention span is as small as they are. So how do you keep them entertained for an entire day of boating? On the water, there are tons of ways to keep kids from getting bored. However, the novelty of being on a boat can wear off quicker than their sugar rushes. Check out some of these great ways to keep kids interested in boating so you don’t have to cut your day on the water short.
Make them your first mate. I always say, a captain is only as good as their first mate. You should always boat with a designated first mate (ideally another experienced adult.) However, letting your child also act as your first mate keeps them interested in the boating experience while giving them a sense of responsibility. It also reinforces safe boating, the most important thing on the water. The role of the first mate includes monitoring boat traffic, staying alert for hazardous conditions and obstructions in the water, helping dock and anchor, and the overall navigation and safety of the vessel.
Tubing, Skiing and Water Sports. Water sports are a great way to get your kids into boating. It’s a thrill ride that you get to control. There are a variety of different tubes and boards to try out that will keep the kids interested, like the ZUP board or this awesome ducky float. Just make sure you are boating safe and wearing the proper life jackets. Also, make sure you are in a safe area for water sports, away from obstructions and heavy boat traffic. Even better, these activities should exhaust them for the rest of the day. That way you can spend the rest of your boat day just cruisin’ while they’re snoozin’.
Fishing. Some kids will quickly fall in love with fishing. Others might not be so excited about all that sitting around. After all, fishing is a waiting game. However, if you’re on the water for a fishing excursion, there are still ways to keep the youngsters from boredom.
Swimming. I’ve never met a kid who got tired of swimming. It’s very important to put safety first when it’s time to jump in. First of all, make sure all kids have proper life jackets. Next, make sure you are anchored at a safe swimming spot away from boat traffic, popular wildlife areas, strong currents and hazardous objects like rocks. Great places to swim are near sandbars and beaches where the water isn’t too deep. Bring some inflatable toys for added fun and safety. You can check out my post on my top 3 water toys.
Let Them Bring Friends. What do you think they are doing on those phones, anyways? Probably staying in touch with their friends. So why not bring them along for the fun? A boating experience can be even better for a kid when they get to experience it with their family and friends. Let your kids invite their friends, with permission from their parents of course. Not only can they improve their face-to-face social skills (rather than text-to-text,) they get to be the cool kid who takes their friends out on a boat. Who wouldn’t want to be that kid?
Picnic and Fun Snacks. Obviously, you need lunch during a day on the water, and with just a little effort it can seem like a big deal for kids. Bring some of their favorite healthy options, and some fun ones like Goldfish and Swedish Fish for some appropriately themed treats. They will be looking forward to that mid-day lunch break, which will keep them excited about boating.
Teach Them. Some of the most magical moments are when you have the opportunity to teach your child something. This is especially true for fun activities like boating. Teaching moments during special times like this become memories that last a lifetime. Rather than let the kids kick back while you drive, tie off or navigate, ask them to help you out. Walk them through what you are doing and why. Not only will it make them smarter, it will give you the opportunity to create a memory they will look back on and cherish. They may even carry on that experience to their children one day.
Do you have a hard time keeping your kids entertained for an entire day on the water? Let me know some of your tips and tricks! Getting our kids away from their phones for more than a second is a win in itself, but growing their passion for boating is the real victory.