The Smart Mom’s Guide to Playing Monopoly

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As a child I loved playing Monopoly. I somehow had no idea how many hours a full game entails. Yes, ignorance is bliss.

Last Christmas we finally had enough kids old enough to play “the real Monopoly,” so that was one of our family gifts. And recently the boys and I have started playing it at night after the girls go to bed.

FishBoy6 isn’t quite up to speed; it’s still boring to him. But, the bigger boys are all over this idea of buying up property and charging people rent. Little do they know what a total pain it is to be a landlord in real life. (But that’s a post for another day….)

Monopoly money and cards on table.

I realized after getting started with Monopoly — and actually reading the directions — how quite a time intensive game it is. So much so that we’d be up until midnight if wanted to play a full round. So, I made a few adaptations. Here are the game rules:

The Smart Mom’s Guide to Playing Monopoly

  1. Set a time limit. We go for anywhere between 20 and 60 minutes. Don’t worry, you’ll complete the full game of Monopoly eventually, just not in one sitting.
  2. Get to a saving place. You’ve heard those words many times if your kids play any kind of computer or video games. Real life doesn’t often have “saving spots.” But, in this case, it does. When the timer rings, finish the round so that everyone has had his turn.
  3. Take a photo. If you don’t have a digital camera, you’ll need to take copious notes. Otherwise, just snap a photo of where every playing piece is on the board. Save the picture, label it: “Monopoly,” and know that you can pick up where you left off next time.
  4. Create “safety deposit” boxes. Give each player an envelope with his or her name on it. This is where each will store his money, deeds and playing pieces. If it’s really important to your kids to keep the same order of turn, mark those on the envelopes as well. Store these in the Monopoly box.
  5. Come back another time. Now that you’ve stashed the goods and taken a snapshot of where you left off, you can easily pack it up to play another time. My kids love this and it actually enhances the attraction of the game.

Monopoly money and cards on board in a pink envelope.

While I’ve heard that more recent versions of Monopoly include credit cards and I don’t know what else, I recommend purchasing a more classic version with paper money. While I don’t agree with the game’s stated goal of “making everyone else bankrupt,” I do think it’s a great tool for teaching them about money, expenses, rent, mortgages, etc. It’s been eye-opening to me to see how my kids think about money.

Do you play Monopoly?

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  1. Love your ideas. I’m not a big monopoly fan but it does have it’s uses. Kids will play it on DS during trips. We usually save or longer games for the weekend or school breaks (dad teaches at uni) and play for an hourish then take a break. The table get’s hijacked for those days—but no one cares as long as we finish our Settlers of Catan game with every extension pack possible. By far our favorite.

    Regarding Monopoloy, I found a blog once where a family would use old check book registers and play “checks” while playing Monopoly instead of using the paper and then they’d just store their registers. I don’t think I’d get rid of all paper money, but it is a great way for practice writing checks. 😉 (at least until they become obsolete)

    1. The checks are pretty clever. Thanks for sharing the idea. (May a check never become obsolete!)

  2. Aaa ah, I LOVE that idea!! So many times we have just quit partway through a game because I was done lol. This is the perfect solution! Thank you!,

  3. Alex and I LOVE playing monopoly…I’m not sure how closely we follow all the rules (I’m pretty sure we are technically off on a couple); but we play a consistent game. We never have to ‘save’ though…one of us is usually able to bankrupt the other in a matter of a couple hours. My secret is the railroads…they seem cheap, but when you have ’em all it’s quick money. Soph usually gets in on the action by being the banker. That is ’til she gets bored, then she tells us we’re crazy for playing such a long game and wanders off. (Don’t worry, I always get in a quick game of pet shop whatever it’s called with her too :D)

  4. Thanks for posting this! My boys will be so happy that I will now play monolopy more often with them. I never like to play because it takes so long! These are excellent tips!

    Thi game is settlers of catan and the game takes about 7 minutes to set up placing the hexes in the hex shape to play it says 12 and up but our kids have been playing by the rules for about 3 years know 11, 9,and 6 the 6 year old really mastered this last year. We love games for the math and reading skills as well as teamwork. You collect resources and buy cities and settlements and build an army(big draw for the boys). I love that the game only takes about 30 minutes to play.

  6. This brought back memories for me. In a family of five children, we certainly had a blast playing monopoly. We would make lists and stick everyone’s items in a baggie. And yes….we noted whose turn was next! Good times. 🙂

  7. wow, we just stop the game and start over next time…so far my kids haven’t cared. We actually do have the new fangled Monopoly where you use the “credit card”. my kids actually love it – they take turns being banker since its easy to pass along. Since I usually was banker, I’m good with it – less paper money left in weird places in the house and its really easy for the kids to figure out how much money they have left (and its not really a “credit card” since your balance goes right down or up – you can’t borrow on it so its just an electronic money tracking mechanism! But, I’ll admit the classic game can’t be beat – we play it when we go on vacation, paper money and all.

  8. We do this! Actually, I shouldn’t take credit – my husband came up with the idea. He makes notes about where everyone one is on the board and where the houses go – and everyone’s stack of money and deeds is rubber banded together.

  9. My oldest brother and I used to play Monopoly all the time. We saved our games and they would sometimes last a month! We are both married now, I have 3 children and he has 5, whenever I visit we still find ourselves up till 3 or 4 AM playing a game of Monopoly. It is still an amazing game!

  10. Monopoly is a bloody sport in my husband’s family, and it’s almost a rite of passage when you’re old enough to stand Grandma’s cheating and swearing!

  11. as a kid we ‘saved’ games – but we don’t now – so little space! But your ideas intrigue me LOL
    We play monopoly, we play dogopoly, we play some other opoly and there’s even a ‘make your own opoly’ on a shelf waiting for a slow day this summer – a Christmas gift my son received.

    It’s a great game and while 7yo dd isn’t really excited at the reality of it she does like to hand out the cards and money!

  12. We started with monopoly jr for my kids and it works great for preschoolers. We now play the real thing and set a time limit and who ever has the most money wins period. I heard an interesting story about the inventor of monopoly recently. He could not get Parker Bros. to buy his game and he was producing them himself. He first started making this game on napkins. I forgot his name, but it’s quite an interesting story..

  13. Another shortcut we have used in the past is to let people put houses an hotels on a property even though they only have one. I love your safety deposit box and taking a picture.

  14. the ease of saving and coming back later is a big reason i’ve always been a fan of monopoly on the computer or more recently on the iphone!

  15. I love the idea of saving the game! We have done that for short periods of time, but not for extended play. We do shorten the game a bit by passing out three prop cards per player at the beginning with the money and going from there. this makes it interesting. thanks for the tips! 🙂

  16. good idea! One other tip I’d have is that if you have a board you could play on (like a piece of plywood or some other scrap) you could play on that board and then carefully move it up somewhere high enough and out of the way so that you could just move the board. My husband and I do that with some games (Settlers of Catan) during Saturday naptime when the littles are sleeping. Sometimes we don’t finish the game before they get up!

  17. Great post! We used to do the same thing when I spent the night at my grandma’s house as a kid. We actually had huge rubber-banded piles of stuff (her’s was OLD) and extra money because the game ran so long, we ran out of monopoly money quick. I would bet we played like that for a year or more. Thanks for the trip down memory lane :).

  18. love the tips to take a picture, stash the cash/cards/etc in an envelope and be set to continue the game later. years ago, i remember playing monopoly with my older sister & brother ~ we’d play all day long. =)

    1. My boys have been playing all afternoon with the neighbors. I guess kids have more stamina than adults. 🙂

  19. You should try the card game, Monopoly Deal! It’s a card game they sell at Target or wherever, and it’s usually around $5.00. It has the “essence” of Monopoly but plays so much faster, and since it’s portable you can take it on trips or to waiting rooms. It’s way more fun than the original!