So far, my list of things to do is longer than my arm. Get kids ready for school, laundry, straighten up the house, workout, shower, work, kids to choir or karate, make dinner, homework, snack, bedtime routine. I guess bedtime routine is family time, right? How am I supposed to fit in a family activity when I can barely fit in everything that I am supposed to be doing today? Guess what. Family time doesn't have to be elaborate and extravagant.
I will say right up front that my husband and I try to plan a bigger outing, even if it is a day trip, once every 3 months. Our last trip was a day trip to Gettysburg and the kids are still talking about how much fun they had. No matter the trip, we do them as economical as possible. I frequently use sites like Groupon and Living Social to look for coupons during the planning stage. Sometimes our outings are planned based on those coupons!
But there are some simple solutions to family time.
- Dinner: Yep. Plain and simple. Use something that you have to do anyways (eat) and turn it into family time. (See my post on Making the Most Out of Dinner Time. ). We have taken this a step further and scheduled a monthly dinner night at my mother-in-laws house. Once of her Xmas wishes was to have family around more often, so we made it happen.
- Movie Night: Switch it up with who picks the flick. Go all out with popcorn, pillows and blankets on the floor, lights out. Make it fun.
- Game Night: This is a great idea for grown ups too. Games break the ice and get people talking. Try a game night once a month with extended family or friends too.
- Read (with enthusiasm): Reading can open so may doors for kids (and adults!) Take the time to read to your kids and not just at bedtime! Take a blanket outside after school or cuddle up on the couch. Hide under a blanket with a flashlight. AND PLEASE, use fun voices! Hate to read? Suck it up. You want to instill a love of books with your kids. Books=knowledge.
- Book of Awesomeness: Scrap booking for kids. Both of my kids have a Book Of Awesomeness. Any time we do something fun, they keep something from what we did and put it in their book. I do not help at all, except spelling and it kills me sometimes (Ok, maybe both parents are a little OCD/control freaks). They are so proud of their books!
- Make something: You do not have to be the least bit creative to make something with your family. That is what Pinterest is for. Spend less time pinning and more time doing. Even if it is a flop, you still had some family time. Sometimes, the projects that fail are the most memorable. Projects can be food, crafts, forts, coloring sheets, crossword puzzles, make your own games, etc
- Adventures: There is a great app called GeoCache. It's a scavenger hunt app for items throughout the world. You know what? We stink at it but we have fun looking and we get some exercise too! The app is a one time fee of $9.99 but we got our money worth in the first month! Go hiking. We love to ride bikes (I run and the kids ride) and we love zombies (no I do not let me kids watch zombie shows) so sometimes while we are riding, we play dodge the zombie. "Zombie on your right!" (This also helps practice left and right, fast, slow and being quiet.) You could dodge clowns (which in my mind as worse than zombies), animals, whatever you want. Just make it fun.
- Exercise together: We can all use a little more exercise in our lives. This is a great way to fit it in with family time. Talk a walk around the neighborhood while doing a scavenger hunt. Play a Wii Fit game. Do an exercise video together or take a class. My husband and I love mudd runs and we have our kids loving them too!
- Camping: No need to leave your yard, or even your house. Last year, we set up our tent inside and camped in the game room. No TV, no electronics, just fun!
The point is, we rush, rush, rush and hurry, hurry, hurry. Our lives are on fast forward. We schedule work and appointments, dates with friends, school, meetings, after school activites. Why not schedule Family Time? I know it sounds crazy to have to "schedule" time to spend with those you love but try it. For one month, schedule family time in your calendar. You will be surprised at the impact Family Time makes.
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