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8 Fun Things To Do With Your Kids For Halloween

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8 Fun Things To Do With Your Kids For Halloween

While traditional methods of celebrating Halloween by letting your children wander the neighborhood are becoming less advisable because of safety concerns, you can still find ways to make the upcoming holiday exciting and fun for young children.

Creative parents can come up with of some fun DIY activities that the whole family can enjoy.

Here are 8 Ways to Make Halloween Fun for Your Kids:

1. Decorate pumpkins

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rsz_1pumpkins_courtesy_of_poppet_with_a_camera_at_fickr_creative_commons

    Every kid loves to pick out their own pumpkin at the grocery store or a local produce stand. As a mother of 3 children, I have always let it be an opportunity for them to express themselves by picking the kind that appeals to them, whether it is big or little or odd shaped, doesn’t matter. Decorating the pumpkins can be a great family tradition to build on every year.

    For young children, especially, I do not recommend carving the pumpkins. This can be a risk for injuries. If you just buy them as is, and decorate the outside, the pumpkins will last longer. There are so many neat ways to dress up pumpkins. You can use markers, glitter glue, acrylic paint, buttons, beads, various kinds of string, cords and cloth. Anything and everything can make pumpkin look cool.

    Try new ways to decorate them every year to make the event more fun. Let the children drawn their own designs and be supportive and excited by what they come up with, so they can feel proud of their original art.

    2. Fix up the yard

    Here is one of the easiest ways to celebrate Halloween. Use the trees or shrubs in your yard to hang lights, figurines or ghosts. You can even have of all different types. As long as you have a photo that can be converted to a digital file, there are many places to order figurines from that will look lifelike and scary, especially when they have lights around them. Use your imagination and let the children help with the yard decor.

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    How about a wheelbarrow full of dirt and a skeleton? Or you could create what looks like an old graveyard. Use whatever you have on hand and get the whole family involved. If you have a front porch you can make it look like a spooky mansion. You can hang cobwebs, bats, lights and decorate with various kinds of homemade candles. You can make a scarecrow type of figure that sits in a chair. Welcome anything your kids can think of as a good idea, as long as it is safe.

    3. Make their own costumes

    Help the children decide on the type of costume they want. This is one of the funnest things for them to do. Give them a few ideas, based on movies or toys they own and see what you can come up with together. Face painting is more fun than making masks and it is inexpensive. Visit the nearest dollar store and let the kids shop for cheap decorations they want. Stores are a great place to visit, just for ideas. You could buy already made costumes, or you can get ideas, and after visiting goodwill stores, buy enough inexpensive items to make up the costumes yourself.

    4. Bake treats together

    Any holiday is better with some kind of treat you can let your children make with you in the kitchen. Some ideas you can do are baking various kinds of cookies, muffins, or desserts made with fruit and yogurt, or ice cream. You could also do caramel apples. The funnest part will be using nuts, candy, and other toppings to decorate your items with. Here are some other ideas for baking. You can also do various kinds of crafts and there are tons of ideas to choose from on the internet.

    5. Have a sleepover

    The most exciting thing you can do for your kids is to help them plan a sleepover for Halloween. At any age, kids love to have their friends over from school, church or daycare. It may take a little time to plan it out, but believe me, it is the best thing you can do. You can make the invitations by hand, help them decide who to invite, and talk over ideas about possible craft activities to have or games to play. You might even want to choose a party theme.

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    For younger aged children, as parents, you will need to do most of the planning, but as your children get older, let them take over the responsibilities. Teach them to learn about the costs involved in putting a party together, so they won’t go crazy with ideas, and they will learn to stay within a budget limit you decide.

    6. Make a spooky room

    image courtesy of slworking2 at Flickr

      Even if you don’t have a sleepover, one of the cheapest ways to create Halloween fun, is to use one room in your house as a spooky room. You and your children can decorate it in outrageous ways, like putting up cardboard forms, boxes and other decor, and plastering the room with spider webs and mini lights. Make sure the lights are not too close to any other materials that could be a fire hazard. One idea is to make the entry to the room so small, that the children have to squeeze in there and go through a type of maze.

      7. Get teens involved

      An easy way to up the level of fun at your party, or even if you don’t have a party planned, is to get your teenagers involved, or even your neighbor children. Have the older children dress up in scary costumes and surprise the younger ones by popping out suddenly and chasing them around in a game of touch tag. It’s easy, it’s fun and it will be very exciting for the youngsters.

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      8. Make a scary video

      Homemade videos are another project you could do. With most cell phones, you can easily make a video of just about anything. You can record all the activities your family does together, or you can work on things with your children, and have an older child operate the phone or video camera. There are many ideas for making fun videos and having contests during the party is one idea of the activities you could record.

      Summary

      No matter what you choose from the variety of activities suggested by the 8 ideas above, just make sure to pay attention to how your children deal with stress. A younger child may not be ready for too much excitement. Or, they may get scared and upset by the costumes. Remember to talk to your children ahead of time, to make sure they are OK, with whatever activities that are planned. Keep in mind that the main objective is to spend time together as a family, or for them to get to see their friends. The most important thing you can do is make it simple, good old fashioned fun for everyone.

      Featured photo credit: image courtesy of epSos.de at Flickr Creative Commons via flickr.com

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      Karen Bresnahan

      Photographer/Writer/Artist

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      Last Updated on October 7, 2021

      Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

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      Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

      In today’s chaotic world, having family time isn’t always easy. It can get pretty hard to coordinate schedules, especially if the family is large. Life demands that we work, attend school, nurture friendships, hobbies, etc. All of those things are extremely time-consuming and important—but so is spending time with your family.

      Why is family time so important? Because we all need love and support, and a good, strong family can provide that regularly. For children, spending time with their family helps shape them into good, responsible adults, improve their mental health, and develop strong core values.

      There are many positive effects of spending time with your family. My family and I, for instance (and this includes grandchildren as well), meet every Tuesday night for dinner and games. My older son and I take turns cooking. This gives all of us a chance to try some new recipes. After dinner, we play games. And without fail, they inspire competitiveness and laughter. As family night has evolved, the grandkids have invited their friends over as well, creating the need for more chairs but also expanding our circle of fun.

      Aside from the obvious fun and games, there are other reasons why spending time with your family is paramount. In this article, I will provide you with multiple reasons why spending time with your family regularly is a win-win. And then, I will lay out some ways on how to do it.

      Let’s get started, shall we?

      Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important

      Here are six reasons why it’s important to spend time with your family.

      1. Provides the Opportunity to Bond

      When you spend time together as a family—talking about your day, your highs, your lows—it fosters communication. As parents, it gives you the chance to listen to your children, to hear them out, to learn about what’s going on in their world. It also provides you with the opportunity to use life situations as teaching moments.

      Before our Tuesday night dinner/game nights, my family used to see each other pretty regularly but not consistently, especially the grandkids. Our family night changed all that. Now, it’s guaranteed that the grandchildren, along with some of their friends, will be there. Not only do I get to find out what’s been happening in their lives, but they also get to know us better. It’s creating memories they can treasure forever, as well as modeling the Get-Together tradition for when they eventually have families of their own.

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      “Spending time partaking in everyday family leisure activities has been associated with greater emotional bonding within families.”[1]

      2. Teaches the Value of Family

      Taking the time to be with your family lets your children know they are valued—that spending time together is a priority. I know that in today’s world, both parents are busy as both usually working. What better way to let your children know they are loved than by carving out time each week to spend with them?

      According to Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D., “words like honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage are core to centuries of religious, philosophical, and family beliefs. Use them and others to express and reinforce your family values. Teach children the behaviors that flow from these principles. Use quotes to ignite meaningful dinner conversations and encourage kids to talk about these values.”[2]

      3. Enhances Mental Well-Being

      Spending that quality time together gives your children a safe platform in which to express themselves, ask questions about things that are bothering them, or talk about their day and things they’ve learned. I know that my 9-year old granddaughter can’t wait until it’s her turn to talk about her day. She usually goes on and on and has to be stopped to give everyone else a chance to talk about their goings-on.

      “Research shows the quality of family relationships is more important than their size or composition. Whoever the family is made up of, they can build strong, positive relationships that promote wellbeing and support children and young people’s mental health.”[3]

      For children, having the opportunity to seek advice from parents they trust—as well as being able to have a sounding board and help with problem-solving—is priceless. In addition, being able to voice their opinions and be heard—and to feel like what they have to say matters—is an esteem-builder. All of these can have a very impactful positive effect on their well-being.

      4. Helps the Child Feel Loved

      How do you think a child feels knowing their parents want to spend time with them—talking, sharing experiences, playing games, listening to them? It will make them feel as though they are important, and a child that feels important is happier and more apt to thrive. Setting aside chores or work to spend time with your children demonstrates that they’re essential—that they matter. What a gift to give your child!

      “If a child has your undivided attention, it signals that they are loved and important to you. This can be further nurtured by experiencing joyful activities together, as it demonstrates that you want to spend time with your children over and above all of the daily demands.”[4]

      5. Creates a Safe Environment

      If you regularly spend time with your children, you are also creating an atmosphere of trust. The more trust they have, the more likely they are to share with you what’s going on in their world. As they get older, you’re going to want to know. Negative influences can show up at any time, but if you’ve always been there for your child, they are more apt to come to you and ask for your advice.

      Spending time together generates familiarity and feelings of being supported. When a child feels safe and comfortable, they’re more likely to open up. This is one way to get to know your child and know what’s on their minds. Are they okay? Do they need your guidance? If so, how?

      6. Reduces Stress

      This is significant. We all suffer from stress at one point or another in our lives. Spending time with family helps alleviate that stress. It’s an opportunity to talk things out, get feedback, and maybe brainstorm for a solution to the problem that is causing the stress.

      According to Brandy Drzymkowski, “During the holidays, your closest five people probably shifts to family and friends. You may even get to see loved ones who live far away. Good news! This can actually help lower your stress levels. Studies show ‘face-to-face interaction…counteracts the body’s defensive ‘fight-or-flight’ response.’ In other words, quality time spent with loved ones is nature’s stress reliever.”[5]

      So, now that you know some of the benefits, what are some ideas for making family time happen?

      How to Make Family Time Happen

      Here are four things you can do to make family time happen and spend more time with them.

      1. Family Dinners

      This, as I said above, is a wonderful way to spend time together. While you’re having dinner, you have the chance to discuss things that are going on in your lives—the ups, the downs, and everywhere in between. It’s like having a buffer against life’s challenges.

      Aside from that, eating dinner together has many additional benefits. Studies have shown that for kids who eat regularly with their families, there is less risk of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and depression.[6]

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      “Our belief in the ‘magic’ of family dinners is grounded in research on the physical, mental and emotional benefits of regular family meals.” It further states, “We recommend combining food, fun and conversation at mealtimes because those three ingredients are the recipe for a warm, positive family dinner—the type of environment that makes these scientifically proven benefits possible.”[7]

      According to Parenting NI, “children and adolescents who spend more time with their parents are less likely to get involved in risky behavior. According to studies done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse via Arizona State University, teens who have infrequent family dinners are twice as likely to use tobacco, nearly twice as likely to use alcohol and one and a half times more likely to use marijuana.”[8]

      As you can see, there are multiple benefits to spending time with each other routinely. You can’t go wrong with this family activity.

      2.  Regular Movie Nights

      This is another fun event, although, from personal experience, I have to caution that choosing a movie that everyone wants to see is not easy. So, give yourselves plenty of time so you don’t spend two hours searching for a movie, and then end up watching no movie at all because the night is practically over. Try and choose a movie before the day, if possible.

      Afterward, open it up for discussion. Ask questions pertinent to the movie. What do you think of ABC? Should they have done that? Would you have done something differently? There are so many questions you can ask to spark a conversation and keep the night going.

      3. Game Night

      This is another occasion for great fun. If you have a competitive spirit, it makes it even more fun. There are numerous games out there—Balderdash, Pictionary, Apples to Apples, Charades, to name a few—that can create fun havoc. All I can say is, on game nights, don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s okay if you lose the game. The fun is in being together, laughing, debating, and having a good time.

      In addition, “Playing board games is great for children for many reasons besides the obvious; it’s fun to play games! Age appropriate games can help children to think strategically, solve problems creatively, work on pattern recognition and build simple math skills. They also help children develop social skills such as following rules, taking turns, and graceful winning or losing. Additionally, a family game night provides an opportunity for children to bond with siblings, parents and family members as well as peers. It can promote tradition building and establish a fun routine.”[9]

      So, go find your family a game and start having fun!

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      4. Sharing a Hobby

      If you and one of your kids like to do the same things, do it more often. For example, my oldest son and his teenage son go on long bike rides together on the weekends. Not only do they get to exercise, but they also get to talk and look at beautiful sceneries. They’ve also incorporated cooking into their routine. They plan the meal, shop, and prepare—activities that bring them closer together.

      Sharing a hobby is a great way to bring family members together. It bonds people in amazing ways. According to Alison Ratner Mayer, LICSW, “One of the easiest and most important ways to build a child’s self-esteem is to spend time with them doing something not only that they enjoy but something that you also enjoy. There is a special magic that happens between a parent and a child when they share a mutually beloved activity. It sends the message to the child that their parents are having fun, true, honest, real fun, with them.”[10]

      Final Thoughts

      Spending time with the family is an investment. It is an investment in the happiness, well-being, and security of that system. It can also serve as a way to break out of the daily rut and the constant worldly demands, while at the same time, building a strong family unit.

      Even though it isn’t always easy to find the time, finding the time is key to staying close and to providing and receiving love and support. There is no greater gift than the gift of time. That’s what we all seem to be missing nowadays. So, in giving that gift consistently, everyone feels loved and appreciated.

      The family that takes the time to interact regularly is typically happy. They know they are part of a tribe, and that’s essential in today’s chaotic world. To know that there are people whom you can count on—people who will have your back in times of need—is invaluable.

      Now, go and plan something plan with your family, if you haven’t already.

      Featured photo credit: Jimmy Dean via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Pittsburgh Parent: Spending Time Together—Benefits of Family Time
      [2] Roots of Action: Integrity: How Families Teach and Live Their Values
      [3] Beyond Blue: Healthy Families
      [4] Esperance Anglican Community School: The importance of family time
      [5] Brandy Drzymkowski: Spending Time With Loved Ones Reduces Stress
      [6] Harvard Graduate School of Education: Harvard EdCast: The Benefit of Family Mealtime
      [7] The Family Dinner Project: BENEFITS OF FAMILY DINNERS
      [8] Parenting NI: The Importance of Spending Time Together
      [9] WNY Children: Family Game Night- The Benefits of Game Play
      [10] Child Therapy Boston: The Benefits of Sharing a Hobby With Your Child

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