In the day and age when far too many families sit around with their noses in their phones or eyes glued to the television in zombie-style fashion, it is imperative to the health of a family and the relationships contained therein to intentionally plan to have fun as a family. When you can learn a thing or two together on top of it, the time spent together is even better!
The options are limitless, but here are a just a few ideas to get you started bonding as a family unit, learning together, and making memories to last a lifetime.
Take a Walk Down Memory Lane
Believe it or not, kids love to hear stories of your childhood and family heritage. Talk to them about the generations in your family that came before, the cultures represented in your family tree, and values and beliefs held dear to your family over time. Dust off the photo album and show them what you looked like as a child, the hobbies or sports you enjoyed, and the fears and hopes you had about growing up.
This creates a unique opportunity to reveal important legacies throughout your family’s ancestry and discuss topics related to their identity as a member of your family. As you discuss these memories from your childhood, don’t leave out any details about the way of life at the time. What were people wearing? What were the political and social issues? What was a typical day like? This will give insight into a time in history beyond what textbooks can teach.
Travel the World
While not everyone can travel the globe to see all the fascinating sights and wonders of the world, you can do the next best thing and learn about the places you’ve always wanted to visit. You can find numerious travel videos and documentaries online or at your local library. Want to visit the pyramids? How about the Eiffel Tower? Curious about the Italian countryside? In today’s age of technology, videos, film, and even virtual reality can allow you and your family to experience these destinations.
Many children have not even left their home state and have no idea what marvels await them in this beautiful world. Global exploration through these travel videos opens their eyes as best as possible and creates for them awareness of civilizations beyond their backyard. Discuss afterwards what they liked most about these places and perhaps even try to recreate some of the cultural aspects at your home (like tea time at Buckingham Palace).
Get Up and Moving
Whether it is going for a walk, riding bikes, going ice skating, playing pickup baseball—anything that gets you up and active and playing together is important for personal health and for priceless moments together. Laugh at clumsiness but push to try harder, stop and literally smell the roses, learn the habitat of your neighborhood, and encourage and motivate each other.
Depending on the adventure you choose to get your family active, you could potentially open the door to hands-on, interactive learning. Plants, animals, ecosystems, and weather are all areas of interest that can be explored when outdoors. As you are being physically engaged, it is the perfect time to discuss health, nutrition, and how your body works with all of its amazing functions.
Cook Cultural Cuisine
It has been said that the kitchen is the heart of a home, and for great reason. Cooking and sharing a meal together is a practical way to spend quality time as a family. Each person can have their own responsibilities in the meal creation process, and successfully working together to prepare a meal may prove to translate well into other areas of family life.
A great way to dive right into learning about a country or culture is to partake of its food. Combining this bonding time in the kitchen with creating a favorite dish from another country will not only help to broaden your children’s taste buds but will also enlighten them to many other cultural elements of that society. If you need an idea for your first recipe to try, consider creative, kid-friendly sushi!
Volunteer to Serve
Do you ever get the feeling your kids act a little spoiled? Volunteering in a variety of ways can help to end the feelings of entitlement and create unique growing experiences that your family will share together. Whether it be something small like making pet toys for a local animal shelter to something larger like serving a meal to the homeless on Thanksgiving, acts of service help to steer the direction of your family toward helping others, rather than being inwardly focused.
As your family redirects its time toward volunteering, you will discover new passions and interests. The environment, animal cruelty, homelessness, abuse, military service members and families, children with special needs—all are areas in our society needing volunteer attention and may just strike a chord in the heart of your family. Selflessness with compassion is one of the most important lessons we can teach our children.
Break Out the Board Games
The reason some of the most-loved board games have lasted through the generations is very simple—they make treasured memories. Playing board games together as a family is not just about playing the game. In fact, some of the games would be quite boring if that’s all they were about. The conversations held and laughs shared while playing together is what is most important and is what makes board games an excellent way to have fun as a family.
Counting spaces, matching cards, spelling words, and learning trivia facts are all some of the functional educational elements of playing board games; but perhaps the most important are taking turns, playing fair, and losing gracefully. Children typically struggle with losing and not wanting to wait their turn, so the more you play together, the easier these will become.
Color and Be Creative
While not everyone is an artist, the benefits of coloring have been found to extend beyond just making pretty pictures. Coloring together or making crafts are calm ways to pass time and facilitate open communication. Even if these are not what you particularly enjoy doing, as long as your kids do, this will create moments to grow closer and to find out more about your children as you listen to them while being creative.
This time is also a great way to introduce or reinforce any specific topics you want your child to learn. Are they reading about butterflies in school? Find a picture of a butterfly to color and ask them to tell you everything they know. Are they struggling with sharing? Find a craft that will require them to share glue or some other supply and have your children practice sharing this and taking turns.
In our busy lives, it is far too easy to neglect the need to learn and have fun as a family. Be intentional to set aside time each day to invest in your relationships and create fun memories that will lead to lifelong bonds as a family.