Have you ever noticed that planning activities for a family can be an overwhelming and expensive task? You have to figure time, gas (if driving), food and cost of whatever you are doing. It can seem like nothing is free, but there are some easy things that you can plan for free or cheap. Family fun time is so important! I feel like the enemy is always trying to distract me with things that aren’t as important as they seem. Here’s a few activities that my family do on occasion:
1. Walk. This is great for your health because it is exercise and forces you to spend time relationally with each other. No electronics allowed! That might make you dizzy anyway. I have read that walking helps flush out your systems – that’s detoxing – plus it gets you out in the fresh air. Obviously, this one is weather dependent. My family loves to walk when the weather cooperates.
2. Build forts inside the house. Okay this one is a must for building creativity in your kids. It’s terrible how many hours young children, teens, and adults for that matter spend on screens (myself included!). Using cushions from furniture, a few chairs, and some sheets, you can easily construct something for kids to play in. Add something extra by eating a snack in the fort or playing a game. This is great because it can be done at any time, regardless of the weather.
3. Play outside. Here’s another one that brings back memories from my childhood. It seems like kids don’t even know how to play outside anymore. I remember being outside all day with my younger brother, only coming inside to eat. We made up our own games which were really silly, but we had fun. When it’s nice outside, send kids out to play. It’s not hard to build a sandbox; if you’re not into DIY, you can pick them up pretty cheap. *Trick: sprinkle cinnamon in the sand to keep the creepy crawlies out.
4. Go to the zoo. Most zoos run specials and smaller town zoos are even free. Pack a lunch and cameras. My daughter is only two and we have already been to the zoo dozens of times. I just read that the Philadelphia Zoo (pictured above) offers free summer admission for educators! Check it out here. The site is dated for 2015, so I will keep checking to see if it is updated for this current year.
5. Look at older pictures/watch old home videos. I have dozens of scrapbooks I made back when I had time – before I was a mom. My daughter loves to look through the pictures and that gives me the perfect opportunity to talk to her about what happened in the pictures. It also helps her with name recognition of family members.
6. Scavenger hunt. This one takes some preparation so you need to plan ahead. My mom was great about doing scavenger hunts when they had a surprise for us. One year, she sent me & my brother on a scavenger hunt with all of these clues hidden all over the house to tell us that we were going to Disney World. She picked up Disney / Florida things on the cheap – yard sales, thrift stores, etc. It is fun and exciting for children.
7. Prepare a meal together. This would work best with older children. J loves to be in the kitchen, but she’s not old enough yet to actually help. I give her kitchen utensils and bowls so she can pretend, but older kids could really be a part of the preparation. It’s always fun to get everyone in the kitchen, as long as your kitchen is not super tiny! Prepare, eat, clean up, relax together as a family. It’s always a good idea to eat together as a family at the dinner table. Talk about your day; you could even plan your next fun activity as a family. No electronics!
8. Play games. Break out the board games! Candy Land, Monopoly, Checkers, card games (My husband’s family plays Hand & Foot, but this is very difficult for younger children. Would be great if your children are teens or older!), Jenga, Cootie, etc. So many families allow themselves to be distant from one another and do not interact. Have a weekly game night – again, no electronics allowed!
Make Time for Your Family
The main goal for family activities is to do things together. Be in the present. Put down the Smart phone. In fact, put it on silent. Communicate to others that you will be spending time with your family and allow them to leave a voicemail or text. Keep the family time sacred! Be a part of your children’s lives. Know their friends, dreams, goals, ambitions. Make sure that they feel that they are important to you and that they matter to God. Listen to your children with all of your attention, not “listening” while checking your e-mail or texting. I know that this is extremely difficult in the culture that we live in, but it is super important! Make time for your family.