By Marcia Hall
One barrier that parents face when trying to schedule family time is that they often have no real idea of what to do with the kids. Parents end up choosing the same activity over and over again because they have a hard time identifying something new and fun to do. If you’re looking to invigorate your family time, consider trying these classic activities with a twist.
Movie night at home with a projector. Rent or borrow a projector and play a new movie or an old favorite through it. Put an old bed sheet up across the curtain rod, pop some popcorn, get some candy out and create your very own movie theater. Kids will love replicating the big screen feel from the comfort of their own home, especially if they get to pick out the movie.
Read a chapter book together. Parents can pick out a chapter book from their own childhood that they enjoyed and read a little bit with their kids on a daily basis. This is the kind of activity that takes weeks and even months to complete, and will provide a lot of memorable family time. Snuggling in bed night after night with mom or dad to find out what happened next in the story will give your children happy memories they will carry well into adulthood and it will help give your children a love of reading as well.
Go camping in your backyard. Camping away from home in the woods can be great fun, but sometimes you may just want a little taste of the camping experience with the option for little ones to sleep inside. Going on a camping trip in your backyard can be an enjoyable and unforgettable family activity. To authenticate the camping experience, get all the supplies together for a campfire and roast hot dogs for dinner and S’mores for dessert. If building a real fire isn’t an option, group together several candles instead. Do some research on some fun campfire songs and stories to tell around the “fire” at night. Get batteries for the flashlights so you can make shadow puppets when snuggling in your sleeping bags. Try hard to make it through the night in the tent and wake up the next morning to an early morning walk, just like you might on a camp out.
Do a scavenger hunt around your city. Divide the kids and adults and conquer! Involve teens who can drive or family friends who could also help out and lead a team, then make a list of things you have to find around the city. Alter the hunt depending on the length of time you want it to take. An all day Saturday scavenger hunt with a big fun dinner at the end would make a really memorable day for your children. Let the children do as much of the thinking as possible. The best hunts have riddles or clues to help you find each thing on the list.
Surprise the kids late at night and take them star gazing. For people who live in the city, this might require a bit of a drive to get away from the city haze, but it will be well worth the trip. Surprising the kids might alleviate some of the “I don’t want to sleep, I’m so excited” jitters. Put the kids to bed as normal and then after a few hours of sleep wake them up so they can go star gazing in their PJ’s. Bring lots of blankets and a flashlight or two. It is a good idea to do some research and find an open space you can visit at night. It is also a good idea to have some kind of guide to the current night’s sky. You could even go so far as to rent a telescope for the night or make an appointment at a local stargazing observation station, but these are not necessary to make the event memorable.
Not every event you do with your children is going to elicit excitement from everyone. One of your children might love stargazing, while the other dreads the thought. Doing a variety of activities with your children will help you not only grow closer to them, but also help them discover what they are really passionate about. Who knows, the child who found it painful to read a book on his own might discover a love for reading when you introduce him to one of your favorite childhood books while cuddled up on your bed