Doing an escape room together can be a rich bonding experience for your whole family. We say “can be” because it won’t be, because you’re you guys.
Following these tips from the experts may help you solve all of the puzzles before time runs out, but the ultimate prize of a functioning loving family will still elude you. Anyway, let’s solve some puzzles!
1. Don’t Crowd The Room
Typically an escape room will allow for more players than is really helpful. You don’t want too many cooks in the kitchen stepping all over each other. Uncle Bill is in town? Okay. Whatever other alcoholic he’s currently dating? They can sit this one out.
2. Communicate Everything
It is crucial that everyone on your team is on the same page at all times. You found a potential combo? Say it. You solved a lock? Tell everybody. You’ve always felt stifled by your mother’s fear of letting you spread your wings and you resent her? Well, no, you’re not going to say that. You’re just going to sit on that and let it fester and rot forever.
Sure you’re incapable of doing this with your children when it matters most, like when they try getting you to see them for who they are not who you want them to be, but you can do it in a puzzle room for an hour, right? Right?
4. Follow The Rules, It Saves Time!
Not only is ignoring the house rules potentially dangerous, it can be a huge waste of time. That door labeled “staff only” isn’t a red herring, so don’t try to open it! You’re kid saying “Stop asking me if I’m on drugs!” might actually have clinical depression, so stop trying to find their stash instead of getting them help!
You never know where something could be hiding, so look around! Maybe there’s a clue hiding under that jewelry box. Maybe that candelabra is a secret switch. Maybe that hug from your father is hiding under that rug.
6. Don’t “Attack The Lock”
Many escape rooms use basic combo locks that you could learn to pick on Youtube, but don’t. Not only is it cheating, but it can disrupt the natural flow of the game. It might feel like a victory in the moment, but it can make things harder and more confusing in the long run. It’s like when Dad bought everyone ice cream instead of apologizing for punching that hole in the wall.
7. If You Use Something Once, You’re Done With It
Typically in an escape room, once you’ve used something you won’t use it again, so it’s helpful to make a “discard” pile to avoid wasting time. Keys and combos are like the trust between parent and child. Once you’ve exploited it, it’s done forever.
8. Process Of Elimination
If you’ve found the first 3 numbers to a 4 digit lock but you just can’t find the 4th, don’t waste time looking! Just cycle through all 10 possibilities for the last number. And if you’ve tried every conceivable way of forcing your son to be interested in football, maybe just accept that they aren’t you!
9. Avoid The “We Need To Get On The Leader Board” Mentality
An escape room is all about the experience. The most rewarding escapes are usually the ones that take the full hour. You’re here to have fun, not set records. Save that high-expectation pressure for shaming your daughter when she only gets into her backup school.
10. Divide And Conquer
Most escape rooms are non-linear, with multiple puzzles that can be solved at the same time. Instead of everyone crowding around one lock, branch off and see what you can accomplish. It’s a great strategy for escape, and a great way to internalize “I am so much more without these people.”
11. Stuck On A Puzzle? Give Someone Else A Chance
We all have blind spots, so if you think you know how to solve a puzzle but you’re just not getting anywhere, try giving another member of your group a turn. Hey, that worked! Now, will you help your wife get the free time she needs to land that real estate license instead of trying and failing to open that bar forever? No? Hmm.
12. Stay Calm
Anxiety won’t help you solve puzzles. It’s 15 minutes in and you haven’t solved anything? Stay calm. You’re 30 minutes in and you’re still in the first room? Stay calm. The thin veneer of a functional family is crumbling around you while a stranger watches on camera and judges you? Stay calm.
13. Stay Organized
Keep used locks in one place and try to keep items that seem to be related close together. You don’t want this escape room turning into another illustration of your collective depression and turmoil, like the kitchen.
14. Don’t Use Excessive Force
Your family really ought to know by now that this solves nothing.