Summer is here and moms everywhere are trying to fill the hours with things to do and ways to keep our children entertained or busy while they're home. The lack of schedule can be both a blessing and a curse, right?

Our relaxed mornings of sleeping in with nowhere to go is amazing, but the conversations around the house are quickly filled with "I'm bored" after breakfast . And I've been trying to limit screen time but that seems to be their first resort of what to do with their boredom. (And mine, too, because, well...I'm tired!)

Our family has recently discovered something amazing to do together that doesn't involve screens or boredom or even leaving the house.

Board games are total boredom busters for us. Maybe you are like me, a mom who kind of hates playing dolls with pretend high-pitch voices or doesn't exactly know how to play basketball with her son. But I find it's easy to say, "Yes!" when they ask if we can play a game. We've found that playing board games is a simple way to get quality time together.

Most of these games are for elementary ages and beyond (though they are still fun for adults!), but with our younger kids (starting at 2 years old) we typically have one adult be with them on a team so the younger kiddos are still included. We love that with five kids it can bring our whole family together to enjoy the same activity no matter the age.

This is a small list of our favorite games to play together:

1. Monopoly Gamer

Have kids who love Mario Cart? You can get them off the screen with this board game version of Mario Cart mashed with the original Monopoly. You use the classic Nintendo characters to zoom around the board while using unique powers, shooting turtle shells, collecting coins, battling bosses,and purchasing properties. This version has more excitement and takes much less time than the original Monopoly. ( Best for ages 6 and up.)

2. Ticket to Ride: First Journey

In this game, the goal is to complete trains across a map, the first to complete six tracks wins. It is easy to learn the rules and quick to play. This game is a simplified version of the original Ticket to Ride game (and the many other maps available), which are equally as fun and a good step up once your child is ready for something more advanced. ( Best for ages 5 and up.)

3. Pandemic

The beauty about this game is that it's cooperative, meaning everyone works together on the same team. Everyone wins, or everyone loses. I love that it takes the competition out and creates an atmosphere of teamwork as everyone is working together to save the world from infectious diseases. It can be a challenge to beat the spread of those pesky colored cubes! It's fascinating to see the ways our different brains function to come up with plans. ( Best for ages 8 and up.)

4. Potion Explosion

Have little fans of the Candy Crush app? This board game brings it off the screen using a similar strategy of matching color marbles to create explosions and collect ingredients. Set in a potions class, this one is fun for Harry Potter fanatics, too, as you take your exams at the Horribilarum Sorcery Academy for Witty Witches and Wizards. This unique game with its marble dispenser is a hit for our crew every single time. ( Best for ages 6 and up.)

5. Carcassonne

This is one of my favorites because it is simple to learn and doesn't take too much brain power for my tired mom brain. This is a tile laying game where you strategically place tiles (kind of like a puzzle) to expand the board in order to build roads, claim cities, monasteries, and countrysides to gain points. There is also a simplified version called My First Carcassonne if you have younger kiddos. ( Best for ages 6 and up.)

6. Karuba

Another tile laying game, but this time you are explorers using tiles to travel across your board to get to the treasures hidden within temples! It has a bingo kind of feel as each player uses their personal board and tiles to create their own paths. This is simple to learn and uses your noggin to decide the best path to lay, but isn't too challenging. ( Best for ages 8 and up.)

7. Sushi Go

This is actually a card game, but it's so fun and easy that I had to include it! Our whole family loves this game and younger kids can play as well since it has a lot of matching involved (though they may still need some help). Each card has one variety of sushi which you will collect for points as you create matches, sets, and pairs. The fun challenge with this game is you don't keep the cards in your hand after each turn, you are constantly passing cards around so you never know what you'll end up with to use in your hand each turn. ( Best for ages 5 and up.)

8. King of Tokyo

Fans of Yahtzee and supervillains will love this game! The goal is to conquer Tokyo as your mutant monster. You use the luck of rolling dice to gain health, points, or punching power and then decide your strategy for each round. You need to attack the monster in the city, but sometimes may need to heal your wounds or improve your powers instead. My son loves this game for the action and excitement it provides. ( Best for ages 6 and up.)

Truthfully, I could list out even more game. There are a lot of good ones out there! I encourage you to keep searching beyond this little list to find games your family will love to kick it old school style with in a fresh new way this summer (or any season, really!). The modern game world is exploding with new games constantly and our family is kinda addicted to collecting them and learning how to play.

The laughter these game nights produces is priceless. Spending quality time with one another, face-to-face—interacting and connecting without screens present —is invaluable in a world that seems to be filled with "Can I watch a show?" or "Can I play a game on your phone" requests. Plus, it involves opportunities for learning, thinking skills, and even life lessons. One of the biggest things we can all learn in life is how to be a humble winner and a gracious loser.

Playing games are one of our favorite times of the day together—win or lose—and I know we will treasure these memories together not just today, but years down the road.

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