Summer is here and many busy families still find it hard to slow down. Between hectic work schedules, summer sports and other activities, it’s often difficult to carve out quality time to spend together. While schedule and budget constraints may limit taking an extended or expensive family vacation, there are lots of fun and affordable activities that can help you recharge family batteries and reconnect with each other.

Picnic Play Date at the Park

Most communities have state, county or city parks that are a short drive away. Pack a cooler with cold drinks, sandwiches and snacks. Take a Frisbee, soccer ball or football and spend the day enjoying a picnic and playing outdoor games.

Summer Festivals

Local festivals have many free or low cost activities for the whole family, including face painting, bounce houses, carnival rides and live music. Check your local newspaper’s community section to find upcoming events in your area.

Backyard Campout

You’d be surprised at how much fun you can have setting up a tent and camping out in the backyard. If you have a fire pit or grill, you can roast marshmallows, and make S’mores. Gaze at the stars, tell silly or memorable family stories, play flashlight tag and call it a night in cozy sleeping bags.

Random Acts of Kindness

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; —Colossians 3:12, KJV

Nothing can draw you out of the doldrums of the daily routine and bring you closer together as a family than doing random acts of kindness for others, in the spirit of Christian service and as a witness of Christ’s love and mercy. Visit a busy metropolitan area and pass out cold bottles of water during the summer months. Mow, rake, or weed your elderly neighbor’s yard. Serve meals at a soup kitchen. Get creative. The possibilities are endless when you put your heart into it. At the end of the day, discuss what you learned and share your favorite part of your volunteer efforts.

Family and Friends Field Day

Set up a backyard field day and invite friends to join your family for fun activity stations like water balloons, sprinkler runs and ladder ball. Including a build-your-own ice cream sundae bar is a great treat for kids of all ages!

Church Talent Show

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. —Colossians 3:16, KJV

God gives many creative talents and gifts, and you can use them for a fun evening of fellowship. Talk to your pastor or youth pastor about organizing a talent show at the church, featuring gospel music and hymns, instrumental pieces and skits designed around Scripture that glorify God and deliver a biblical message.

Secret Chef

Conflicting work and school schedules prevent many families from sharing nightly dinner. Mark a night on the calendar where you can all sit down together for a meal. Make it fun by assigning each family member a dish (dessert, salad, side, etc.) and keep what you’re bringing or cooking a secret. Parents or older siblings can help younger children with their contributions. Capitalize on connecting by taking turns sharing the things you like best about each dish and each other.

Charity Walk

Doing a walk or run for a local or national charity is a fun and healthy way to spend time together. Exercising for a great cause, like funding for cystic fibrosis research or to end child hunger, makes the day doubly rewarding.

Bike Ride Scavenger Hunt

This fun activity takes a little parental pre-planning. Set up a scavenger hunt bike route in your neighborhood or community. Place clues at various spots to ultimately lead your family via bike to a fun ending destination like an ice cream parlor, park or family fun center.

Beach Days

Beaches and lakes are fun and relaxing and most communities have one nearby. Grab blankets, umbrellas and picnic supplies and spend the day swimming, building sandcastles and just being together.  Doing a Bible study during lunch is a great way to glorify God and give thanks for a beautiful day.

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