Life is hectic and quality family time often seems like a rare commodity. Spending time together having fun not only strengthens a family bond, but it’s also an essential way to de-stress from the heavy demands of work and school. Here are 10 tech-free ways to play that should make smiles, laughs and some lasting family memories.
Arts and Crafts Night
Doing arts and crafts together as a family is a great way to nurture young Picassos, tap into the entire family’s creative side and stimulate imaginations. You can sketch, paint, build clay models, and make jewelry, scrapbooks, ceramics projects and more.
Making a large poster or mural is a fun art project. Each family member paints or draws a portion of one large scene on pieces of poster board that hang in successive order. Or, you can use a continuous roll of art paper. You can theme the project for holidays like Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter or Halloween. Or make seasonal scenes for winter, spring, summer and fall. Then, hang the finished project in your playroom, recreation room or another designated space for everyone to enjoy.
Family Game Night
Everyone loves games. Picking one night a week for family game night enables you to spend quality time together playing classic board games like Monopoly, Clue, Chutes and Ladders and Yahtzee. Or opt for trivia games and word games like Trivial Pursuit, Charades, Pictionary and Scattergories; or card games like Uno, Go Fish, SkipBo, and Rummy. Many games also have great educational value and sharpen math, memory and language skills. It’s a nice idea to make a rotating schedule of who picks the game to play and what snacks you’d like to have. Popcorn, pretzels, chips and animal cracker make great game night treats.
YMCA or Fitness Club
Most cities have a local YMCA chapter or fitness club where families can enjoy a variety of fun and physically healthy activities. Do a Google search to find a facility near you and call to find out if they offer day passes and what kinds of features they offer. Most places have swimming pools, basketball courts, racquetball courts, gym equipment and some even have indoor rock climbing, bounce houses and trampolines. Spending an afternoon there together is a great way to exercise and burn off pent up energy – especially when rainy or cold winter weather prevents you from being outdoors.
Bowling is a fun and inexpensive family past-time that kids of all ages can participate in. Check your local newspaper or phone book for discount coupons that may combine two games of bowling with pizza and a pitcher of pop. Large families can split into two teams on two lanes and compete. Or, you can even join a family league. A lot of bowling alleys also have arcades and game tables like air hockey and pool tables to enjoy after you’ve finished your game.
Camping is a great, inexpensive way to enjoy nature and create lasting family memories. Pitching tents and setting up camp is half the fun. Many campgrounds have lakes and trails nearby for swimming, fishing and hiking. Roasting hot dogs and marshmallows, telling scary or funny stories, and collecting rocks, leaves, and shells are just some of the many activities you can do on a camping trip.
Reality singing competitions are wildly popular on TV. You can host your own mock competition or talent show at home, or just sing some of your favorite songs with a home karaoke machine or via the karaoke channel on cable On Demand. Many Grammy winning singers started out by doing small concerts in front of their families as children. You never know what future music diva or rock star might emerge from the family ranks when you get together to croon some tunes! (And remember, it’s not about how well you sing, it’s about how much fun you have being together!)
Doing jigsaw puzzles are a fun, classic family project that gets everyone involved. You can set up a card table in an available space, or gather around the kitchen table to complete the puzzle. Pick puzzles according to age, number of pieces and your favorite hobbies, cartoons, animals or scenes. Larger puzzles may take several weeks to complete and can be worked on according to a planned schedule, or as free family time permits. Puzzles offer a nice sense of accomplishment when they are done. And, you can use puzzle adhesive to hold the finished project together for framing and wall or table display.
Outdoor sports are a fun, healthy, popular family pastime, with variations to fit any season. Fall is great for football and basketball. Spring and summer are perfect for swimming, soccer, baseball, golf, tennis and skateboarding. Exciting winter sports include skiing, snowboarding and sledding. Be sure to tailor your sports picks to suit age, skill level and physical limitations of each family member. Also be sure to use appropriate safety gear like helmets, knee, shin and shoulder pads in order to prevent injury. Big families can form teams and compete. It’s also fun to plan a family picnic, barbecue or dinner and invite cousins, uncles and or other neighborhood families and friends to participate. You can take turns hosting a weekly or monthly event between participating families. Or speak to your pastor about starting a sports league at church.
Roller Skating/Ice Skating
Let the good times roll with hours of fun roller skating, rollerblading or ice skating. This invigorating activity can be done indoors at rinks, outdoors in parks or on safety-designated ponds. Indoor rinks usually have tables to take a break and share drinks and snacks. And some facilities even offer laser tag or other indoor games. More experienced skaters should always help younger skaters and be sure to use the appropriate safety gear like helmets and appropriate safety pads.
Day Trip/Video or Photo Journal
It’s always nice to carve out some time for a short family road trip. Check the community section of your local newspaper for interesting events like festivals, carnivals, museum exhibits, plays, concerts or sites of local or historical interest. If time and finances permit, plan to spend one day or a weekend together for a mini family vacation. Capture special or important moments along the way by documenting the trip via a camcorder or a series of photos that you can keep in a video or photo journal that you can revisit in the future to recall the highlights of your adventure.