With more of my kids away at school than still living at home, I have lofty ambitions for our family together time over these coming two weeks – the only time of the year when all our kids’ vacations coincide. In my mind, I’ve built up an unrealistic vision of music playing in the background and all seven of us gathered near the fireplace, talking and laughing.
The reality is, like other school breaks in recent years when we’re all home, we have a meal or go on an outing together, and then we scatter to our respective “corners” to do what we each find fun and relaxing. One son currently likes playing a game on his computer while Skyping with friends, and another doesn’t like to miss any sports on TV, including his own Xbox FIFA or basketball game. My daughters like catching up on their sleep and watching Netflix on their computers. My husband likes to retreat to his office to get work done. I have an image of myself reading by the fireplace, but what often happens is that I get my book and coffee and end up on my iPad checking out Facebook or Pinterest for a few hours. But whatever we’re doing, we’re doing our own thing: the whole family, “together,” in seven different rooms of the house.
Vacation is a time when we should have permission to do the things that we each find enjoyable and relaxing. But I’ve been thinking of adding a new wrinkle to this year’s vacation: a set time—30 minutes every day or every other day—when we gather together for some kind of fun, family activity. This might be more realistic than my vision of constant togetherness.
Of course, what’s “fun” for me often does not sound fun to my family (scrapbooking gratitude journals a few years ago comes to mind). But, since I tend to be the family social director, I’ll still try to come up with activities that could be fun for at least a few of us. We may not have 100% enthusiasm, but in the interest of family togetherness, we can all rally from our separate corners to do an activity together. And, with only a 30-minute commitment, there shouldn’t be too much complaining!
Letting each family member come up with one activity may be better than my social dictatorship. That would mean that at least seven times over this vacation, we’ll do something for 30 minutes as a family that’s fun for one or more people in the room. By taking turns, everyone has a chance to share something they like and possibly get someone else interested in their activity. Who knows? Maybe some of the activities will end up lasting longer for some family members!
When I get my chance to plan a family activity, I have my arsenal ready. Here are my ideas:
#1: You Tube Viewing Party
This one, I think, will be popular to all. Many times over this year, I’ve been called over to someone’s computer to watch a funny You Tube video. I thought we could each find a few of our favorites, get some popcorn, and have a viewing party! I think this one could be a popular family activity!
#2: Top Family Hits
Since we all love music – albeit there is a divide over Justin Beiber – coming up with a family playlist that includes two or three of each of our favorite songs from the year could be fun. This would be a collaborative effort with one person being the playlist maker, which could perhaps be followed by a sing/dance party while we clean the kitchen after dinner!
#3: Craft Projects
We have a big craft table that’s been sadly underused, so I’d love to get a fun activity going that everyone could do together for a while. Then, people who are more interested can continue as they wish. Here are some that I’ve found on Pinterest:
- Photo Tile Coasters – These seem easy to make and could be a fun gifts for grandparents.
- Candles – We made some last year, and since it involved hot wax, it was a big hit with my then 11-year-old son.
- Christmas scrapbook –My daughter made one using our 2011 Christmas pictures. I’m thinking of ordering pictures from the past three Christmas seasons, and those who are interested could scrapbook one page or maybe one year.
#4: Family Run or Bike Ride
There is always some grumbling as we prepare to leave, but these family runs (with optional bike riding for people not inclined to run) are some of my favorite memories and something we all enjoy once we’re out there. Although it often includes bribing the two youngest with donuts (there’s a shop right along the trail), I think it’s worthwhile and fun. It’s great to get everyone outside for some family exercise.
#5: 100 Memories
This activity is something we do every year and doesn’t even need to be scheduled, as it will happen over several dinners and during hang-out times. It’s fun to reflect, even though it can be a challenge to come up with 100 memories from the last year! We leave the notepad with the 100 memories on the kitchen counter so that people can add to it as they think of things.
As with my daily “to do” lists, this list of 5 family fun activities may be too ambitious. So I’m going to be realistic and assume that I’ll get to pick maybe one or two of these this vacation. Having each family member come up with one activity is probably a better plan that will get more buy-in than me saying, “Guess what fun thing we get to do today?” I’ll still present these as options and see what everyone thinks, and I’ll have to think long and hard about what I’ll pick for my precious 30-minute slot!
What are some fun activities that you do with your family? I’d love to hear your ideas! Please put in the comments or email me.
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