Family Activities: Your secret to nurturing family relationshipsFeb 22, 2023
Setting aside time to spend doing activities as a family isn’t new. For generations, families have been playing, working, and adventuring together to bond, learn, and have some fun. And those are only a few of the benefits. Building healthy relationships, developing social skills, and creating memories that will last a lifetime are several more benefits you can look forward to as you become intentional about spending time together as a family.
Setting a precedent for recurring family activity times early in our kids’ lives is a great idea. Down the road, we’ll be happy we used this powerful tool to help our children learn things like the importance of family connection, fun, patience, endurance, and empathy.
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3 Reasons You Should Start Regularly Doing Activities As A Family 🎳
It Builds Family Connection 🤗
When we look back on our lives, our relationships will be the gauge we use to measure our success. And our relationships with our family will take the number one spot.
We all know that quality time (emphasis on quality) helps build relationships, so a family activity is the perfect way to set aside that special time to nurture our connections with our family members.
Because family activities offer a safe, fun environment in which to interact, the whole family can feel free to truly be themselves. This opens the door to deeper connection and understanding, and makes it possible for everyone to walk away from their time together knowing their family members in a more meaningful way.
It Gets Everyone Involved In Family Time 👋
A huge reason to have a family activity time is that it’s a natural way to get everyone involved in family time. Each member of the family is different, and it’s easy to let diverse interests or busy schedules keep everyone separated. But with a family activity to draw everyone together in a common pursuit, it’s possible to work around these obstacles.
There are scores of ideas for family activities, so part of the planning process before getting everyone together will be to choose a few ideas that everyone can be excited about. No matter how reluctant certain family members might be about being involved, everyone likes doing something, so it’s just a matter of finding what activities appeal to them. Then, you can cycle through different ideas to make sure everyone is able to participate in something they especially enjoy.
It Helps Your Family Grow With Each Other, Not Apart From Each Other 🤝
Family activities provide a safe environment to get to know each other, all while learning new skills and facing new challenges together. And while some activities can be stretching, they often provide the perfect opportunity to work through a challenge together in a low-pressure, non-threatening environment. Building camaraderie as a family in safe situations early on can mean greater resilience in the future when things grow more tough.
Taking the time to bond as a family during a scheduled family activity is an infinitely more healthy alternative to everyone drifting off to their own individual activities during that time, and drifting apart relationally as a result.
Game Night Ideas To Strengthen Your Family’s Connection 🧩
One of the easiest ways to have recurring family time is to start having a family game night. A game night might be just the tool you’ve been looking for to help your family stay connected, keep open communication, and learn together.
For example, Dad might struggle learning a new game, but it’s a good growth experience for him, and his family can rally around to encourage him. Or the younger kids might need help reading instructions or words on the game board, and it’s a great opportunity for older siblings or parents to pitch in and help them work through it.
Here are a few reasons game nights are so perfect for getting each member of the family involved
It’s simple ✅
Though some games themselves can be complicated, getting everyone together to participate in a game with a clear objective is incredibly straightforward. For those minutes or hours that you’re playing, everything else can fade into the background as you focus on this one, common activity. Plus, at the end of the day, the point of playing these games together is to have fun and make lasting memories. That’s it. If people had fun, it’s a win.
It’s diverse 🎊
There are so many different kinds of games out there, that no one can make the excuse that there aren’t any games they like. For extroverts, there are acting or description games. For introverts, there are personality or strategic games. Look long enough, and you’ll find a game to fit each person’s interests. And then you can simply take turns between different kinds of games so everyone gets to play a game they enjoy.
It doesn’t take expensive equipment or require advanced skills ✏️
Most games just require basic knowledge and skills, and again, there’s a wide range of games appropriate for different ages. And while some games can be pricey, shopping for them online or at a thrift store can allow you to find some great games at discounted prices.
Fun Game Night Ideas For The Whole Family 👨👩👧👦
As mentioned before, there are literally thousands of games to choose from when thinking about how to structure your game night. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, start with games you enjoyed as a child. Your kids will probably love them too.
Trying out games you have on hand is also great. It’s not uncommon to have a few random games in the cupboard you’ve never played. Give them a try, and you might just find a new favorite.
A third option is to start with the classics. Monopoly, Life, Risk, and well known card games like Rummy and Slap Jack are all great options.
Here are some great games to try out, and see what your family thinks:
- Board games: Ticket to Ride, Settlers of Catan, Aggravation
- Card Games: Dutch Blitz, Sleeping Queens, Exploding Kittens
- Group Games: Apples to Apples, Charades, Trains/Dominos, Code Names
- Games under 5 minutes: Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza, Would You Rather
And these are just a starting point. As you learn what different members of your family enjoy, keep your eyes and ears open for games that sound like a good fit.
- Search for more game ideas online
- Check the shelves of your local thrift store
- Ask that friend or relative who’s a board game expert what games they would recommend
Don’t be afraid to try new games as you navigate planning your family nights. There’s something exciting about learning and conquering a new game as a family.
If you need more help starting a family game night, check out our blog on that topic here.
More Family Activity Ideas You Can Do Any Time
Below are additional family activity ideas. You can use these ideas on weekends, for general family nights, and on vacations and days off from work.
Get Outside 🌳
There are a boat load of reasons to get outside as a family. Fresh air, getting into nature (a local park counts), and sunshine are just a few. It’s a great way to leave the stress of the day behind, and unwind by doing something fun together in an invigorating environment.
There’s something magical about the outdoors, and the health benefits alone make being outside a great idea. Couple that with fun family activities, and taking the family outside for the evening or on a weekend is a no brainer. And when you choose to be outside as a family, the possibilities for family activities become more numerous. There are a lot of options once you leave the house and get out into the open.
Many of your options for getting outdoors depend on how long you have, and the age of your kiddos. Here are some ideas from less involved to more involved:
- Take a walk on your street 🚶
- Go on a bike ride in your neighborhood 🚲
- Have a chalk drawing contest on your driveway 🎨
- Make a trip to a local playground and play “Monkey on the Ground” 🐒
- Play tag or soccer at a local park ⚽️
- Have a water balloon fight in your yard or a local park 🎈
- Play Disk Golf at the nearest course ⛳️
- Have a picnic 🧺
- Set up Croquet in your yard 🏑
- Go swimming at a local lake or pool 🏊♀️
- Visit a local farmer’s market 🥕
- Have a projector? Rig up a sheet and have an outdoor movie night 📽
- Do a scavenger hunt in your yard or at a local park 🗺
- Hike the trails at a local park 🥾
- Build a bird feeder, and spend time outside watching the birds 🦩
- Create an obstacle course that you all have to conquer 💪
- Make a day trip to the nearest nature or wildlife reserve 🦖
- Build a fort together 🔦
- Go on a fishing trip to a local lake or beyond 🎣
- Go on a weekend camping trip 🏕
Eat Dinner Together (Whenever Possible) 🍽
Eating dinner together on a consistent basis opens the door to more conversations as a family. It’s an ideal time for family members to share about their day. They can share stories, updates on what they’re learning, something funny they heard, or something hard they’re dealing with. This allows each member of the family to stay up to date on what’s going on with the others and learn how to support and encourage them. It’s also the perfect atmosphere to learn empathy and how to communicate with one another by listening and asking questions.
On top of being a time for conversation, it’s important to realize that simply sharing a meal together is meaningful on its own. Think back to the sights, sounds, smells and tastes you remember from special family meals with grandparents or for a birthday. Those things stick with you. Sharing a meal together is powerful, and taking the time to sit down and eat as a family has long-reaching positive effects that will strengthen your bonds with each other.
By eating dinner together as often as possible, you can look forward to enjoying more camaraderie, more laughter, more memories, and more bonding as a family.
Cook Or Bake Together 👩🍳
The practice of cooking and baking is becoming a lost art for many people. Which is sad, since it used to be a pillar of family time, and is an incredibly useful (and delicious) skill.
There’s a saying that “a family that cooks together, stays together.” We all know the power of bonding through food. Cooking wholesome food together and then sharing the meal as a family is the perfect way to start your night.
Thankfully, reviving this practice in your home might not be as difficult as you think, and it comes with tons of benefits and perks.
If you don’t currently cook together, a great place to start is inviting your kids to help you make a dessert. That’ll be a hard one for them to turn down. You can even do this as a family night activity by baking and decorating cookies together for an upcoming holiday. After a few times of doing this, and once they get the hang of measuring out ingredients and helping you stir, feel free to make it more challenging for them by introducing new dinner recipes for them to help you with. If you keep it fun (and let them lick the bowl when making dessert), it will be a time your kids look forward to.
A few neat things happen when your kids cook and bake with you:
- Your kids experience a sense of accomplishment by having a part in the finished product
- They learn a new skill that they’ll be able to use for the rest of their lives
- You’ll have some extra hands to help prepare some of the meals
- Your kids will feel a deeper sense of gratitude whenever they eat a home cooked meal since they now know how much work it takes
- You’ll enjoy a bonding experience with them, and will be creating memories they’ll look back on with fondness
The thing to remember here is that making a meal together is not about the food. It’s about the experience of cooking and eating with your family, and the memories and bonding that result.
Do Projects Together 🍁
If you’re looking for ways to make family time more fun and more practical, try doing projects together. It’s an opportunity for your kids to learn more about what they enjoy doing while Mom and Dad get a few things knocked off the todo list.
Doing projects together has so many benefits. When everyone is pulling toward a common goal, and there are obstacles to overcome, you build off-the-charts camaraderie. You discover how to work together most effectively, and everyone gets a boost when you finish the project and look back on a job well done. Plus, completing a project is a great way for your kids to learn new skills and strengthen their work ethic.
Things like gardening, cleaning out the garage, painting, and building something special together are a few examples of project ideas to try.
A Few Rules For Your Family Time 💜
Here are a few things to remember when engaging in family time so everyone feels safe, feels excited, and continues to bond with each other.
Make Sure Everyone Has Buy In 😃
No matter what activity you’re doing, make sure everyone is on board. There may be some reluctance, but it’ll be a disaster if even just one person has a poor attitude toward the activity. It can lead to other’s growing discontent, and wanting to stop participating.
Instead of reluctance, explain the “why” behind family time, and check to make sure everyone is on board. If someone isn’t, ask questions to clarify why they’re having trouble committing to this activity in family time. More often than not, it’s a personal issue (which you then can try to help them work through), or a lack of understanding of how important they and their attitudes are.
One way to help eliminate complaining up front is to really make game night a seriously fun time. Make the idea of intentionally having fun together with no distractions a serious matter, and your kids will start to view it that way too.
No Cell Phones Or Devices ❌
We all know how distracting devices can be. To keep them from hijacking your family time, don’t use devices for non-family-activity related things while you’re participating in family time. Make this a rule that everyone agrees to.
One way to do this is by designating a phone basket for meals and activities at home. During meals and activities, all phones go in the basket. And if you’re going out of the house for your activity, lead by example, and help your kids stay off devices during family times. If you build and reinforce this culture, you’ll be amazed by how readily your kids will give up their screen time to participate in special times with their family.
The Goal Is To Have Fun, And Grow Family Connection 🤗
No matter what you wind up doing, the point of having a family activity is to grow closer as a family and create memories everyone can treasure for the rest of their lives. Common experiences, communication, and good times together are what will allow your family to enjoy a close relationship for years to come, even making it possible for your grown kids to become your best friends.
It’s easy to stress over family activities and create long lists of plans and activity ideas, but there will always be a need to be flexible. If an activity winds up being boring or exhausting for the family, don’t feel bad about switching things up. The point is to create a fun and safe atmosphere where your kids can learn and grow and build stronger bonds with their family members. It’s not about sticking to the exact schedule or doing an activity idea because it’s on the list, even though everyone hates it. The last thing you want is for your kids to dread family time. So keep it fun. Keep it light. Have a basic structure, but allow for some spontaneity. The best memories are made when we’re intentional about the environment and our attitudes. Exactly what we’re doing is often less important.
Start Your Family Activity By:
- Find a new game you’d like to try out from the list above
- Choose a time to do your family activity
- Get your free Family Activities guide for more ideas
Spending time together as a family is worth the thought and effort it takes to do it well. Investing in your family for the sake of deeper bonding and more personal input into your kids’ lives is a decision you’ll never regret. And the results of even just one interaction will last so much longer than the few hours it takes to create those special times together. So go ahead. Take the time to truly connect with your family, and begin to enjoy the many beautiful benefits connection brings.
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