Life is busy. We, as parents, often don’t take the time we should to slow down and share moments with our children and that is why our children may make less time for us as they grow. With school, extra curricular activities, friends, and interests of their own, the days of family fun are growing fewer each year. So change it! Find new and fun ways each month to slow down and spend time with your family.
Not sure what to do? Here are some great ideas that you can do with your kids no matter what age they are.
Create a “TO DO Board”. A simple cork board is all it takes. You could even go to the craft shop and create your own as a family. Let everyone add a decorating element to the board. As the year goes on, have everyone write down ideas on a post-it note or tack photos of things they want to do as a family on the board. Fishing, hiking, taking a walk, etc. The sky is the limit but the only catch? It has to be something the whole family can participate in.
Start a Family Book Club. No matter what the age of the kids or their interest, allow each family member one turn in picking a book that the whole family can read and share their thoughts on. If your tween is excited to read something that your toddler may not be interested in make it interesting by having the family take turns reading a chapter to the younger members. And perhaps the older kids will enjoy rereading the Lorax! At the end of the month, make some snacks and sit down and discuss the book. It’s a great way to foster a love of reading while spending time and sharing something with the whole family.
Movie Night. Sure you watch TV all the time. And you see plenty of movies… but make it special. Pick out a movie together (this may be easier said than done) and decide on a menu. Do you want to do a themed dinner? Watch Kung Fu Panda with some Lo Mein or just relax with some popcorn!
Family Field Trips. Who said field trips are only for school? Taking a trip to a museum or some place educational without teachers in tow. A pop quiz to follow will allow your child to explore and have fun without the pressure of making it educational and they may learn even more that way! Lucky for us, Tampa Bay is filled with lots of fun educational venues such as Glazer Children’s Museum, MOSI, Lowry Park Zoo, The Florida Aquarium, Great Explorations, and more. You could even get really creative and take a trip to a fossil dig or go canoeing!
Annual Talent Show. Does your family have talent? Find out. Plan an annual talent show and give everyone some time to prepare (maybe a month). Sing, dance, tell jokes or make noodle art. Whatever their talent is, allow them to display it for the family. You can also let each member of the family direct a “group act”. Give out prizes for most original, best costume, etc.
Celebrate Un Birthdays. There’s bound to be a month where there are no birthdays. So Celebrate with an Un Birthday Party! Make a cake for everyone! Let each person pick out a small gift or hand make something to swap. Play silly games like Pin the Tail on the Donkeys Nose, and get crazy. Don’t forget to sing “A Very Merry Un Birthday” (from Disney’s Alice in Wonderland).
Guest Chef. Let each member of the family play chef one day. They can pick the menu, they will shop for groceries, and they will run the kitchen (with help when needed of course). You can have them create their own dinner or have them assign each family member a station. Salad, meats, veggies, bread, and present the plated meals to the Chef of the day for approval before eating. You may just have yourself the next Gordon Ramsey (without the potty mouth).
Family Memory Book. These moments you create… they are so special and you swear you will never forget them… but you probably will. So save as many as you can with a Family Memory Book. Leave a box with an album, some craft supplies and things needed to add to the book. Went to a great movie? Add the tickets and a brief note about the film and why you loved it. Had a fun day together? Add a photo or just write down a little bit about the day so years from now when you look back you will remember it and why it was so special. You’ll be surprised how eager each kid will be to add their own pages and touches to this special keep sake. And it will be something you will treasure forever.
Write a Letter. Make it easy. Leave out paper and envelopes and have each person write at least one note or letter a week with a thank you to another family member or just telling them how great they are. If you want to get really creative let each person make their own mailbox (a paper bag or shoebox can work great for this) and let them decorate it. Everyone will be excited to check each day to see if they got a new letter.
Make time to hug. It’s important to hug each other. A hug not only shows that you are close both physically and emotionally, but it also releases endorphins that make you feel good. So make a point to hug and turn it into a game. Whenever you see double digits on the clock or a certain word is said (we like the word “Like” since my kids pop it into like, every sentence they say) you hug everyone in sight. You can do single hugs group hugs. It takes a second and can be fun and make you feel closer and happier… and that’s what being a family is all about.
There are so many ways to have fun as a family and be close. So take time each day, each week, and each month to be together and create memories and traditions that will last forever.
Steffany Rodriguez-Neely is mom to 3 amazing kids ages 5 to 14 and the owner of www.TampaBayMomsGroup.com.