Family time used to be a regular occurrence back in the 50s and 60s but with increasing technology, two-parent working households and the social media craze, spending time together as a family has become a rarity.
Unfortunately, because it has become so rare, preteens and teens have a negative view whenever “family time” is mentioned.
It doesn’t have to be this way though and with some persistence and consistency on the part of the parents, family time can become a regular part of your weekly routine; one that your kids of all ages will enjoy and look forward to. What you choose to do with your family for quality family time is completely up to you and what your family likes to do.
We recommend that family time not be spent in front of the television or even going to the movies. Family time should be about spending time together talking, laughing and communicating. It’s difficult to communicate when everyone is staring at a large movie screen or television screen.
If you’re having trouble coming up with good family time activities, take a look at our suggestions below for ideas and inspiration. You may decide to try one of them or they will give you a creative push to come up with ideas on your own.
1. Family Game Night
Family game night can be fun for everyone in the family if some care is taken in the planning of it. Incorporate a fun meal tradition into the mix such as make your own taco night, pizza night or hot dogs with all the fixings. Plan ahead and post the menu for the night on the refrigerator to get the family excited about the upcoming game night.
There are many games that you can choose to be a part of game night. The smoothest idea is to choose one game that is the “game for the night”.
If you have varying age groups among the kids, be sure to choose a game that the youngest members of the family can enjoy as well by being teamed up with one of the older kids or adults.
Choosing games only geared for super young children isn’t fun for anyone else, so it is better to choose a game where a young one can be teamed up rather than scaling down to such young age games. Some great group games for all ages include Pictionary, Scrabble, Yatzee, Operation, Life, Monopoly, Uno, Scene it, Clue and many, many other choices. You can let the kids choose the game for the night or make the choices totally random by writing down the names of the games you have and then drawing from a hat.
Once you’ve had dinner and cleared everything away, you can start the game portion of the night. Pair up any little ones with an older child or adult and let the fun begin. Some things to keep in mind is to not keep game night going so long that people want it to end. It is better to leave the kids wanting more when you call an end to the night. This will guarantee that they will be looking forward to the next one with excitement.
2. Family Camping
This activity takes a bit more planning and involves being able to go away for a couple of days. The good news is that camping is an inexpensive way to spend fantastic quality time and it can be done with children of all ages. Most people have local campgrounds close to where they live, so if you can’t travel a long distance, you can still enjoy a short camping trip.
There are many families that truly fall in love with camping and make it a regular part of their family time and regular activities. Read our list of the top 100 camping and hiking bloggers here for more inspiration.
This activity does involve having specific supplies, so you will be ahead of the game if you already have these supplies on hand. If you don’t and have the money to spend here is a list of the most important supplies you will need to have a successful camping trip:
- Family sized tent
- Sleeping bags
- Air mattresses for the adults
- Camping stove
- Camping cookware
- Camping chairs
- Camping knife
- Various other supplies including camping showers, backpacks, binoculars and more.
Once you have decided to take a family camping trip, you can get the children involved in the process by having them help with the packing lists, help doing the packing and even choosing where you go unless you already have a spot picked out. Your first camping trips should be car camping trips where you can load the car with your supplies and drive right up to your campsite. They are much easier and more relaxing, especially with children. Don’t forget the insect repellent.
Don’t forget to bring a first aid kit and several things to do on your family camping trip such as Frisbees, footballs, and fishing gear if there is a river, stream or lake where you are going to be camping. Your children will remember these family camping trips the rest of their lives and it will more than likely determine whether they take their own children camping when they are adults.
3. Playing Backyard Sports
Unless your family is naturally large, you may not have enough people to play an official game of basketball or football, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy playing sports in the backyard or the park with your family. Basketball, football, and baseball are just a few of the enjoyable and fun games you can play with your kids.
The idea is to have fun, not worry about winning or competitions. Save the competitions for when the kids become adults and come over for holidays.
If they have grown up playing outdoor sports games regularly, chances are they will continue to play when they are grown.
Other sports that you can play with your children include badminton, volleyball, soccer, tennis, golf and bowling. Bowling is an indoor sport that can be a wonderful way to spend time together, even if your children are very young. Don’t forget about air hockey or ping pong games if you have these games in your home. (Many do!) Family air hockey tournaments can be the source of a lot of fun and laughter.
4. Family Scavenger Hunt
If you know that you and the family are going to be spending several hours’ out and about running errands, why not have a family scavenger hunt? You can get pre-done lists off line or have a family member come up with the list and then everyone participates.
Make sure that there are safety rules in place such as the children not running off by themselves or going over the scavenger hunt list while you are driving. Safety is a very important part of your quality family time remaining safe and enjoyable.
The easiest way to set up the scavenger hunt is to require that the participants take pictures of the scavenger hunt items. This prevents any problems with having to purchase the item. It can be really fun to be running errands and taking pictures of the different things on the list. Some good scavenger hunt items include:
- A certain kind of leaf
- a photo of the participant with a specified person (a police officer, firefighter, or even the cashier at the grocery store)
- A piece of fruit
- A vegetable
- A candle that is a specified color
- A specific bag of chips or other snack (brand and flavor)
- A penny on the ground
- A certain type of vehicle (make and color for even more of a challenge)
These are just some suggestions; the sky is the limit. Let your imagination go as you come up with things based on the errands you have to run. Scavenger hunts can be so much fun. If your children are younger, team them up with an adult or older sibling. Once you get back home, let each team show their photos of the scavenger hunt items. Whoever has the most from the list wins a prize of some kind. This is sure to be a crowd pleaser that they will ask for time and again.
5. Family Fishing Trip
One of the great things about fishing is that you don’t have to take several days off work to enjoy it. Fishing is something you can do as a family for a day or even just a few hours. Check your local area to see what fishing opportunities exist near you. If you live in a major metropolitan area you may have to drive a little ways to find some good fishing but it should b e easy enough to find.
Supplies for family fishing excursions include fishing rods for everyone, bait, a basket or bucket for any fish you catch, (unless you are doing a catch and release) fishing lures and other fishing supplies.
You don’t have to purchase expensive fishing rods unless you want to “get serious” about fishing. Your basic fishing rod and reel doesn’t have to be top of the line to enjoy fishing outings with the family.
Keep in mind that fishing is a great activity you can add to the family camping trips as well. So if you have fishing gear and are going camping, don’t forget to bring your fishing gear.
Things To Keep In Mind
If you have never had organized family time or it’s been a long time since the family has spent time together, it will take a little bit of adjustment for the family members, especially if you have older children or teenagers. Don’t be discouraged. We have provided some tips that will help the execution of family time be much smoother and enjoyable for everyone. Before you know it, the kids will be asking for it and looking forward to the family nights with anticipation and excitement.
- Sit the family down and have a “family meeting” so you can explain that you are adding family time into the routine. Decide whether you want that family time to be once a week, once every two weeks, or once a month. An ideal amount of time seems to be once every two weeks for busy families and once a week for families that have more free time. Get the children excited about it by asking for their input and suggestions on family activities that they want to do.
- Be consistent and committed to spending time together as a family. Once you have decided to have dedicated family time, treat it with importance and make it a priority. It will show your children that family time IS important regardless of what you are doing, and that it isn’t something that will go away after a couple of times. This importance on family will carry over into their adult lives and will keep the family close even after they move out on their own.
- Don’t make family night or time a punishment. The idea behind having a dedicated family time is to enjoy being together. There might be a little resistance among your older children or teens but if you include them in the decision making process, they will be much more inclined to participate.
- Be an example and get rid of distractions. During family time there should be no texting, Facebook, or television. This will be hard for your teens that may seem to have their cell phones or tablets surgically attached but family time loses the point if everyone’s nose is buried in their cell phones.
- Family time doesn’t have to cost a lot. Even though a couple of the suggestions above involve spending money, that doesn’t mean that all family time has to cost a lot of money. If you need budget suggestions, look for free things to do in your town or city and make a list for the children to choose from. At the end of each family time, get suggestions from the children on what to do next time. Give each child the chance to suggest something and rotate what the family does so it doesn’t lean only toward one person’s likes.
Family time can make a huge difference in how close a family is. When handled properly, family time brings everyone together and provides a closeness that many families today just don’t have due to busy schedules, two working parent home, and super busy schedules of the kids. It’s very easy to lose sight of the importance of spending time together just relaxing and having fun.
With dedication to the addition of family time to your schedule you could be starting a tradition that your children will make important and continue with their own children.