Bringing Back Family Time
Mention “Family Time” and chances are you might be met with groans and complaints. These days it’s more common to see families sitting at a restaurant table, all looking down at their cell phones rather than interacting, especially if there are teens in the family. Don’t worry though, all is not lost and it IS possible to bring back family time in a way that will make everyone want to participate.
It’s Easier to Prevent a Bad Habit than to Fix One
If your children are younger, you will do yourself a huge favor by not letting certain habits develop. Cell phone use during family meals or activities is one of those habits that can be a real bear to break.
In our household, cell phones are not allowed at the table at all, no exceptions and that includes mom and dad. This also includes iPods, iPhones, Kindles and any other kind of electronic device.
If your kids aren’t cell phone or tablet age yet, this will be an effortless “rule” to put into place and leave in place as they grow up. If you have teens and things have been allowed to slide, be prepared for some resistance but don’t give up and don’t give in. Things WILL get better and easier as they get used to it and realize that you are not going to change your mind.
Family Time Possibilities
There are many different things you can do with your family to spend time together. The ones we’ll concentrate on here will cost little to no money since many times, that is why families stop doing things together. Use the suggestions below to brainstorm with your own family and see what ideas they come up with. Encourage all members of the family to suggest things they would like to do as a family and have someone appointed the meeting “secretary” so these ideas get written down.
Make sure that everyone knows this is going to become a regular thing they can look forward to. That you will not cancel it or do other things on the night that you agree on for family night. When kids see their parents commit to something, they are much more likely to commit as well as treat it with importance and respect.
Family Game Night
Family game night has been around for a long time and for good reason.
There may be some resistance from certain family members at first, but if you choose games that all members can participate in, they will see just how fun this can be. Choose games that can be played with a variety of age groups and take turns letting the kids choose which game is played. There are still a lot of games on the market that involve group activities and if you don’t have the funds to get new games, you can easily make your own version of a popular drawing game by getting a large dry erase board, some dry erase markers and a dictionary.
Other things to incorporate into family game night are having a regular time each week, and having a special dinner that night as well.
Pizza is always a good choice and if it is the same night each week, it gives the whole family something to look forward to. Other great family game night dinner choices can be tacos, hot dogs, homemade sub sandwiches and other easy choices.
If you’re changing the way things have usually been done at home, require all the kids to play, but keep it relatively short as they are becoming accustomed to the new routine, but require that they participate. Change can be hard, but the idea is to bring back family time, so allowing them to not participate defeats what you are trying to do.
Picnics don’t have to be costly affairs. They can be as simple as making sandwiches, apples and chips, bagging them up in brown bags and driving to the park or to another scenic area that your town has. Picnics can be a fun way to relax and get away from the house together. Bring a long Frisbees, a football or even a kickball to play an easy going game and watch how much the kids love it, especially with mom and dad participating!
The next time you go to the home improvement store for flowers for the yard, bring the kids with you and let them pick put some things they’d like to plant either in the yard or in their own little container.
Gardening doesn’t have to be a chore and if they are planting things that they love the look of, they are much more likely to want to participate in planting it and taking care of it too.
Try to allow each child to choose something if possible so they each get to be responsible for their flower or plant.
Check Out the Free Stuff in Your Town
It may be surprising to you how many people have no idea of the things their town has to offer in the way of free entertainment.I was guilty of this myself when I lived in a particular area for several years before I took the kids to a civil war re-enactment that was a regular thing in our town!
All it takes is a bit of an internet search to see what your particular town or a town adjacent to yours has to offer for little to no money. State parks, museums and many other things are available in many towns, often free of charge, and you may not even know it. Make a list of the things you find and let the kids take turns once a month deciding where to go.
If YOU Make it Important, so will They
Use these suggestions above to spark your own family’s creativity and see what ideas they have.
Even if you have resistance at first, be persistent, don’t make it a punishment or fight, just be firm, allow yourself no wavering, and make it a normal part of being a part of the family and the kids will come around and even allow themselves to enjoy it. Cook outs, camping out in the back yard, outdoor theater night and more can all be fun family things you can do together. You’ll be instilling something very valuable in your kids that they will surely carry into their own families.
One thing we want to stress… Once you start doing these regular family nights and activities don’t let it be something the kids see you do for a week or two and then stop. If YOU make it important to spend time together as a family and you keep it as something that you also treat as a top priority, they will too.