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Finding Family Time

Unwind and make memories as a family with these ideas.

From school to athletic practices to social events to chores to homework, your family is busy. You may see each other throughout the day, when in the car or across the soccer field, but there’s little time for meaningful interactions and downtime together. Crazy as your day-to-day may be, don’t let the busyness of life keep you from making quality family time a priority. There are hundreds of other things vying for your attention these days, but none are more important than your marriage and the hearts and minds of your children.

Before the beginning of another crazy week, mark your calendar and set aside time to unwind together. Not sure where to start? Here are a few ideas that are free or low-cost and yet they will create lifelong memories for kids.

Family Meals

While eating together may not seem like a big deal, studies consistently show the importance of family mealtime. Sitting down together at the table to share a meal fosters tight family bonds, builds self-esteem, builds closer relationships, helps kids learn how to communicate, and may prevent risky behaviors in teenagers. Families who eat together are also more likely to eat nutritious meals.

Whether breakfast, lunch, dinner, or all three, make it your goal to eat as many meals together as you can. Plan the menu, grocery shop, prep the food, and clean up together afterward. And don’t forget to turn off the television and cell phones while you’re eating.

You will never look back on life and think, ‘I spent too much time with my kids. - Unknown

Game Nights

Turn off the tube, get out the board games, set out a few snacks, and call it a game night. Take turns choosing which game to play, but choose ones that are appropriate for the ages and skill levels of each family member. Turn things up a notch with prizes for the winners.

Movie Night

Instead of dropping $50 or more to head to the theater, stay in for the evening and watch a movie together. Find a few family-friendly options and vote on everyone’s favorite choice. Snuggle under blankets on the couch or make beds on the floor for everyone to fall asleep on after the movie.

Hiking

Not been outside in a while? Plan an outing to a nearby state park to go hiking. Waterfalls or mountain views make for great destinations. Wear comfortable shoes, insect repellant, and sunscreen. Pack snacks and water. Young kids may enjoy a scavenger hunt along the way. So make a list for each child to look for and include things like a red leaf, a leaf bigger than your hand, an insect, a flower, a squirrel, a piece of trash, and a butterfly.

The Park

If your family isn’t into trails, you can still get outside for some family fun and vitamin D by spending an afternoon together at a community park or by the lake. Take a Frisbee or football, pack a picnic lunch or snacks, play on the playground, swim in the water, or ride the carousel. Sometimes the most fun is had when no agenda is planned and everyone is able to relax.

Mall Outing

Don’t have much money to spend on an outing but still want to get out of the house? Head to the mall, give each person $5, break up into teams, and draw names for each other. The goal is to search the mall for the perfect gift you can buy your secret person for under $5. Set a time limit and determine a place to meet back. Exchange gifts and see if you can guess who had your name. Everyone will have fun shopping for someone else and receiving a gift at the end!