As to kids.. this is what I use to dislodge people from talking about their home renovations. I'd rather hear all about what their kid is doing because it's people. I've noticed though that while some people will talk about their kid's personalities (interesting to me) others will just trot out a laundry list of achievements or even go into excruciating detail about their teachers and exams.
Personally, I'd rather listen to people talking about their home renovations than their kids. In fact, I'd rather hear conversation on just about ANY subject except people's kids. Especially babies.
And any talk about sports, I automatically tune out. You might as well be conversing in Turkish.