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25 Fabulously Fun Family Activities To Bring You Closer Together

25 Fabulously Fun Family Activities To Bring You Closer Together

It’s the height of summer, making it a brilliant time to come together as a family and enjoy long sunny days. But what should you do?

There are so many fun family activities available, we’ve compiled 25 of them to set you on your way.

1. Visit museums

Educational and entertaining, museum trips have a knack of sticking in your memory, creating many positive moments for your young ones. Have a scan through Google to find out what’s on offer, or make it a day trip further afield to

Take a look at this video to find out why visiting museums is a good choice:

2. Enjoy a hot air balloon trip

It’s summer. It’s warm. There are spectacular sunsets and beautiful sights to be seen. Why not book a hot air balloon journey and capture some special memories?

3. Cook!

Teach your kids some skills in the kitchen, or learn a few new tricks yourself. The main thing about cooking is it’s great fun, but also a chance to instill a few healthy tips into your family’s life.

Instead of going for the more traditional sugary snacks, why not try out homemade pizza using organic wholemeal flour? Throw some wheatgerm into the dough mix, mush and beat it into shape, and then you can stick it in the oven with any toppings you like: asparagus with mushrooms and sweetcorn is my favorite.

Yottam Ottolenghi’s incredible cauliflower cake is another unique recipe I can highly recommend. It’s something else and makes for a fun conversation whenever you bring it up with friends or family.

Or, to keep things simple, why not just make some popcorn?

There are plenty of other recipes to try out, of course. For ideas, the Green Kitchen app is pretty unmatchable. This one has all manner of healthy and ultra-tasty recipes – it comes at a small price, but for recipes like the immune boosting turmeric lassi it’s absolutely worth it.

Green Kitchen has also produced a healthy dessert app, so you can really add some oomph to your meals, whilst laying off excessive calories.

4. Have a picnic

Know a nice stretch of countryside or urban park? Rustle up a lunch brimming with brilliant food (you might have learnt a few of them from #3) and head out for a meal outdoors.

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Fine food, fun conversation and a rustic setting? Perfect.

5. Go treasure hunting

Join the world’s largest treasure hunt with Geocaching. It’s a global event where people hide caches and leave notes for you to go on a treasure hunt. You can search the website to find ones local to you.

Watch this video to know more about this:

6. Start a YouTube channel

It’s free to do and easy – start a YouTube channel. You can vlog about anything, or take on something a bit more ambitious – make a family film, or chronicle the antics of a a pet you have.

Don’t expect fame and fortune from it all, more a creative release and a diary of your lives.

7. Start a blog

Why not join the international blogging community with a family site? It’s free to start, thanks to services such as WordPress. You can also pay to upgrade your account if you’re enjoying it – a Personal Plan is $36 annually.

Why blog? If you’ve got the slightest hint of creativity, blogging can be incredibly rewarding. It’s also a great opportunity to digitally meet new people across the world, as well as document what your family has been up to.

Looking back a few years down the line makes for great memories.

8. Read

It’s well established how important reading is for kids. Through it, they can expand their vocabulary and learn more about the world.

But what to read? Harry Potter is a given, but why not have a family reading session with something new? I can recommend the illustrated edition of E.H. Gombrich’s classic A Little History of the World – packed full of amazing pictures.

Alternatively, there’s the Atlas Obscura book. It’s a treasure trove of information, fascinating facts, and can provide new ideas for your next holiday:

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9. Find out more about film

Other than watching films, you can enjoy their analysis. The BBC’s Kermode and Mayo Film Review Show is a perfect mix of humor, discussion, and reviews of the latest releases.

Affectionately known as the Church of Wittertainment, the podcast should become a big part of your life due to its global community. There’s even an app called Wittr that lets you pinpoint other Wittertainees (the name for listeners) around the world.

It’s simply great fun to listen to, as the show’s presenters bicker like an old married couple, but the many in-jokes will soon have you looking forward to Friday afternoons – it airs once a week at 2pm BST.

10. Do some chores (in a fun way)

ChoreMonster is a bit of an odd one, unless you’ve seen that bit in Mary Poppins when you’re tricked into thinking chores can be fun (for about 20 seconds).

This app changes everything, plus it gets your kids involved. It’s a great way to get them independent, enjoying themselves, and taking on new responsibilities around your home – download the app, get it running, and they’ll be positively thrilled to do the dishes from this day forward:

11. Take a road Trip

Roadtrippers and Waze are two apps to inspire a road trip. Where to go? After you’ve been through the Atlas Obscura book above, you’ll have several hundred new must-see destinations to notch up.

Alternatively, you could tour through your local community – become an expert of your hometown. There’s something fascinating to do no matter where you are.

Need to be suitably inspired? Take a look at 16 of the Best Road Trips in the World.

12. Get artistic

Some paper, pens, pencil, coloring crayons, or some paint – creativity can’t hold you back. Express yourself as a family, but there’s a bit more to it as well – as you can watch in the TED video below, it helps us to analyze the world to a greater extent. That’s ideal for young, flourishing minds.

13. Try a writing game

Collaborative writing games can be highly entertaining. A favorite for me is exquisite corpse (maybe give it a friendlier name for your kids!) – it’s regularly hilarious.

Despite the macabre title, it’s suitable for all ages. You’ll need a piece of paper. From there, write a sentence, cover up what you’ve written, but provide a word for the next person. They then complete their sentence – continue until you think you’re done.

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I was taught this at primary school back in the early 1990s. The results are often surreal, absurd and remarkably silly – if you like that type of thing, you’ve got hours of laughs here.

You can play the game with drawings, too. It was popular amongst Surrealist painters like Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali in the 20th century – why not keep the game alive for a new generation?

14. Get a SNES Classic Mini

Nintendo’s games are fantastic fun for all ages. Its current games console, the Switch, boasts some unbelievably engaging titles. These include Mario Kart 8, Splatoon 2, Mario Tennis, Snipperclips, and Overcooked – perfect entertainment for all the family.

If you don’t want to pay for a brand new games console, however, you could pick up a NES Classic Mini or SNES Classic Mini – these are only in production until the end of 2018 and it can be quite difficult to get your hands on one.

At $70, it’s a steal for the cute, dinky SNES, which features amazing classics such as Super Mario Kart, Super Mario World, Donkey Kong Country, and Yoshi’s Island.

15. Do some volunteer work

Have a scan through your local community for places where you can volunteer. Popular choices include animal sanctuaries – there’s likely a cat shelter nearby, so why not help re-home some adorable felines during your downtime?

The bonus to this is it will teach your children about empathy and doing good deeds for others, which is an incredible personality trait to have.

16. Play a board game

It’s easy to forget these exist in this day and age. But they’re out there! Really, you can’t go wrong with the likes of Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, Scrabble, chess, Cluedo, Battleships, and many more.

They’re a great alternative to video games, if those aren’t your thing, but you can still download the likes of Monopoly to a device of your choice. You can then cast the game to your TV – great fun:

17. Have a proper family dinner

It’s tempting to slob out in front of Netflix these days, particularly after a long day at work. But, at the very least, you could make time at weekends for a round-table feast – it’s a fine way to catch up with everyone, have a discussion, and enjoy some quality time together.

18. Build a veg garden

Gardening can be incredibly rewarding, but also takes discipline, a meticulous approach and teamwork.

These are all great skills for any young one to learn, so head out into your garden (or start a veg patch inside your home) to see what you can grow. The results can be inspiring.

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19. Make a time capsule

These are endlessly fascinating – capture your moment in time, then catch up with it a number of years later (or not at all, leaving it for future generations to find).

You need an airtight box, but other than that feel free to add in whatever modern day knickknacks you feel best summarise life in 2018.

20. Learn how to juggle

Asides from being great fun, fantastic exercise (mentally and physically), juggling can become a joint family hobby.

Take it slowly to begin with to master the rudiments, but from there you can double-up into a juggling act in no time. Research shows juggling can also improve your brain power – again, fantastic news for kids.

Check out this video and learn some basic juggling skills:

21. Create a scrapbook

Get yourself a large scrapbook, some coloring pens, crayons and pencils, then record something as often as possible.

You could stick in newspapers or magazine clippings, draw silly pictures, write poems, haikus, or just your thoughts during that moment in time.

22. Take on an epic jigsaw puzzle

Find the most ridiculously over-complicated jigsaw you can – turn it into a project!

You can keep a record of it as you progress through the year (take pictures etc.), whilst working on it as a family, or alone. There’s a certain serenity to completing a jigsaw puzzle piece by piece. Plus, it’s highly rewarding at the end.

23. Knit together

Science says knitting makes you warmer and happier mentally.

Learn the basics of knitting (this includes the men of the family, as there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be involved) and have a monthly knit-off.

Whoever creates the best piece of knitwear, after a family vote, can win something of your choice – perhaps a night away from cleaning the dishes.

There you go, 23 fun family activities you can try this weekend! You may want to make a schedule with your family about when to do each of these activities too!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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Alex Morris

Creative Writer, Copywriter, & Journalist for Business, Culture, Lifestyle, & Work

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Published on September 21, 2020

The Danger of Overscheduling Your Kids

The Danger of Overscheduling Your Kids

I am a parent of three children aged 8, 6, and 6. Like many parents, I struggle with knowing the right balance of activities for them. I don’t want my kids to miss out on opportunities to play sports and participate in activities that will enhance their lives and help them grow as individuals. However, I also don’t want them to become overscheduled kids, to the extent that they get worn out and stressed out.

There is a balance in providing activities for our children and overscheduling them. The tendency for the latter is prevalent these days. Our lives — and the lives of our kids — are increasingly overscheduled and overworked. Thus, we need to understand the dangers of having overscheduled kids and how to prevent this from happening in our own families.

What’s Wrong with Overscheduling Your Kids?

1. Overscheduling Can Burn Out Our Kids

When our kids are on the go and scheduled to the max from a young age, their potential to get burned out before reaching high school is quite high. The New York Times reported some research on burnout and found that burnout with kids relates to their workload, along with their parents’ propensity to experience it.[1] This means that overworked children are more likely to get burned out than others. Similarly, overscheduled parents tend to have overscheduled kids more often than not.

Burnout

When a person is burned out, they feel overwhelmed and exhausted by what others expect them to get done daily. Children who are involved in too many activities with little to no downtime have a high chance of experiencing burnout. When parents place too many expectations on their kids, they also have an increased potential to burn out.

If you get the sense that your child is feeling overworked or overwhelmed by their daily activities, you need to know which ones can be cut back. If they have too many activities outside of school work, for instance, then that is one area that likely needs to be downsized.

An overworked child will present various symptoms like moodiness, irritability, crankiness, despondency, anger, stomach aches, headaches, rebellion, etc. Cutting back their activities will help to relieve their stress and reduce the said burnout signs. If your kid has severe burnout symptoms, though, then professional help from a pediatrician or therapist for children should be sought.

Downtime

Downtime is key to helping relieve burnout. If children don’t have free time during the day to have any rest, they are more likely to become burned out than others. Downtime means unorganized free time to do what they enjoy or relax. Cut back your kids’ extra-curricular activities if they don’t have downtime in their schedule.

Here are more tips on creating downtime for the children: How to Create Downtime for Kids.

2. Overscheduling Kills Playtime and Creativity

Kids need time to be kids. When their schedules are filled every day with activities like organized ballet, soccer, and music lessons, and they only take a break for dinner and bedtime, then they are overscheduled. They need to have free time after school to relax and play. When they don’t have that and proceed from one scheduled activity to the next, they are missing out on playtime.

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Playtime is crucial to child development. If they cannot get enough time to play, then their ability to develop their creativity decreases. The Genius of Play explains that there are six major developmental benefits that children get from playtime:[2]

  • Creativity
  • Social skill development
  • Cognitive development
  • Physical development (i.e., balance, coordination)
  • Communication skills
  • Emotional development

If children don’t have time to play because they are always on-the-go, then they are missing out on the developmental benefits of play.

Children need downtime after school so that they can unwind, play, and decompress. Research from the Journal of Early Childhood Development and Care showed that kids need to play to deal with anxiety, stress, and worry.[3] Playtime provides an outlet for them to manage these emotions in a healthy manner and helps with the development of their creativity.

Children need free time to play every day. Fifteen minutes at recess is not enough. They need time for it after school, at home, outside of the constraints of scheduled activities.

Solution

Ensure that your child has time to play after school. This is especially important for young children who greatly benefit from playing. Limit organized activities so that your child is not scheduled every day and can play after school. If they have an activity every hour, then it doesn’t allow for playtime.

3. Overscheduling Causes Stress and Pressure

When kids are overscheduled because their parents are so intent on having high-performing children, then they will feel stressed. Parental pressure upon a child to do well in academics, music, multiple sports, and religious studies is a reality for many kids. The children scheduled in all of these activities can often feel stress and pressure, especially when they are expected to succeed in all of them.

It is hard enough for kids to be good or succeed at a single activity. For a parent to overschedule their child and expect superior performance in various activities, that is a recipe for a stressed-out child.

Solution

Parents should not schedule kids in multiple activities with the expectation of superior performance in all. They should also consider the child’s interests. If the child is not interested in one activity, then they are likely to feel stressed and pressured to do it.

For example, if Suzy has been taking piano lessons for four years, and she no longer enjoys learning the instrument, then perhaps it is time to take a break. If Suzy is forced to continue with the lessons and daily practices, then she may feel pressured to continue performing simply because her mom wants her to do so. This can lead Suzy to resent her mother for forcing her to keep on doing something that she doesn’t like anymore.

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Let your child help in selecting the activities that they get involved in. Also, put a cap on the number of activities they are doing. If they have a different activity every weekday, then they are likely overscheduled.

Kids need downtime and time to play, too. If they need to do a new activity every day, that downtime is diminished, considering the time at home or outside of the scheduled activities is limited. This limited time is then filled with homework, mealtime, and bedtime prep. Eliminating activities several days a week will allow the child to have some time to play freely. The younger the kid is, the more time they need playtime. As they get older, they can take on more activities; however, under the age of 13, playing daily is a must for children.

4. Healthy Eating Falls by the Wayside

Any parent who’s busy chauffeuring multiple kids to different activities after school knows how tempting fast food can become. Fast food, however, leads to less healthy food choices. French fries and hamburgers — the staple combo in most fast-food joints — cannot help your child thrive nutritionally.

When families are overscheduled, they tend to go for easy and quick meals. When rushed, many of us make poor food choices because we aren’t taking the time to think about a meal’s nutritional value and a balanced diet for our children.

5. Family Mealtimes Become a Thing of the Past

When we are taking our kids to sports and other extra-curricular activities that fall during dinnertime, the family often misses out on sharing a meal at home.

This is true in our own home. There are certain nights of the week that we have practices, and so we either eat together early (if possible) or eat separately, depending on what our schedules allow.

There is so much value in having family dinners. It provides an opportunity for family members to discuss their day, including their work and school activities. It is a time when technology is set aside so that everyone can truly focus on communicating with one another and catching up on what is happening in each other’s lives. When a kid’s activities are scheduled every evening, then that family time at the dining table gets lost. Dinnertime becomes a thing of the past as we overschedule kids and ourselves.

Try learning more about family time here: How to Maximize Family Time? 13 Simple Ways You Can Try Immediately.

Solution

Assess our schedule during the week to ensure that there’s always time for dinner with the family. Make it a point to establish a dinnertime schedule for the evenings that you do not have prior engagements scheduled. Remember: the time that you have with your kids under your roof is fleeting. Before long, they will be grownups and start living on their own. You need not dismiss or minimize the opportunity to bond with your children over meals.

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Having family mealtimes also allows you to make excellent food choices. This way, parents can create balanced and healthy meals and teach their children about the importance of eating good food for their bodies.

How to Turn Things Around?

1. Fix the Displaced Ambitions

Parents with overscheduled kids often mean well. They want their children to succeed, so they give them every chance to make it happen. They sign them up for various lessons, sports, and activities that may help the kids find success in life.

In other cases, the parent probably didn’t get such opportunities when they were young and felt that they missed out on many things. Hence, they provide those missed opportunities to their kids during their own childhood.

Carla is an example of such a parent. Carla always wanted to take dance and ballet classes as a child. She heard her friends talk about dance classes and performances, and they would even bring recital photos to school, showing their beautiful, detailed costumes. Carla wanted to be in those dance classes and learn ballet and have the opportunity to perform in a beautiful costume in front of an audience. Unfortunately, her family could not afford to give her that opportunity.

When Carla gave birth to a baby girl, she had visions of her little one growing big enough to take dance, ballet, and even tap classes someday. She was looking forward to dressing her daughter in dance costumes and watching her take lessons and eventually performing in recitals. When Carla’s daughter Anna was old enough to enroll at a dance class at four years old, she was thrilled. However, after a few months, it became clear that Anna was not enjoying these classes. She would cry before every lesson, begging Carla to let her stay home and not go to class. Her daughter had no interest in learning to dance.

In truth, it happens to many parents. They would enroll their kid in an activity that they wanted to do as a child but never got to try. Unfortunately, a parent’s interest is not always the same as that of their kids’. The child may humor mom or dad for some time and do the activity out of compliance. But if the child does not enjoy it anymore, they will eventually make things clear to their parents.

Parents should listen to their children. If the activity is something that they do not enjoy doing, ask the children what they think they would like to do, and then eliminate activities that they are not into. Similarly, teach them commitment by finishing a program, but don’t enroll them again in the same class if they absolutely do not want to do it.

Let the kids try different activities at a young age. Sometimes they don’t know if they like something until they try it out.

2. Try Clinics of Camps Before Committing

Don’t enroll your child in three sports at the same time to see which one they like or excel at. Doing so will make your kid overscheduled. Instead, you can use the summer break or preseason camps or clinics to try a variety of activities they are interested in.

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As an example, all three of my children said that they wanted to do lacrosse. We had already tried soccer, and it was not successful for two out of three of them. They would rather chase butterflies down the field or play tag than actually participate in their games. Therefore, before committing to lacrosse and spending a great deal of money on their gear, I signed them up for a sample clinic. It was a one-day program that intended to expose children to the sport and see if they would perhaps enjoy playing it. I was surprised to find that the three kids enjoyed lacrosse, so we signed up for the season. It was nice to be able to see them try out the sport in a clinic before committing to an entire season.

Most towns and cities have parks and recreation department. This is often a good place to check for clinics and camps for various activities. Our local department even offers art and dance classes. Most of them meet between two and four times total, so the children can get some exposure to the activity before signing them up at a private facility for a more long-term commitment.

3. Take an Inventory of Your Weekly Activities

Often, we do an activity without reflecting on how much we are already committed to doing each week. Before we commit to any more activities, we must be willing to look at everything that each family member does. Every child’s commitment is another responsibility for the parent as well. Parents must take children to and from each practice, so you need to consider the drive time for any activity.

For instance, if each of my three kids signed up for three different activities each week, I would be running myself ragged. Three activities for three kids means taking them to nine activities during the week. That doesn’t include the games that will likely be scheduled on the weekends. Three activities for every child, therefore, is too much for our family.

If some practices overlap on the schedule, then you need two parents or responsible adults to transport the children to different locations. Before you sign them up for multiple activities, you need to factor downtime, stress levels, and your ability to take them to each activity in the equation.

Consider the following before your kids can commit to various activities:

  • What is the time commitment for the child each week? Do they have enough energy and stamina for the activities? Do they get enough downtime daily to prevent burnout?
  • Is practice time required outside of their scheduled team practices and games?
  • How long is the travel time for you as a parent, along with wait time during practices? Do you have time allowances for these activities in your own schedule?
  • Does the activity time conflict with other activities on the schedule? Will it eliminate family dinners on a regular basis?
  • Does the child really want to do the activity?
  • What is the motivation for signing up for the activity?
  • Is this activity or commitment going to cause a great deal of stress on the child or other family members?

Check out these time-management tips for parents: 10 Time Management Tips Every Busy Parent Needs to Know.

Get The Kids Active and Involved!

Despite everything, it does not mean that you shouldn’t sign your child up for different activities like sports, music, dance, karate, etc. They are all great activities that can help children develop a variety of valuable life skills. The goal is to enroll them in things that they genuinely enjoy and avoid overscheduling kids by not letting them sign up for too many activities at a time.

More Tips for Scheduling Kids’ Activities

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

Reference

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