Thursday, September 22, 2011

Family Fun - from Frumpy to Fantastic!

I have a terrific family. My kids are smart and cute and funny (and I guess I'm a bit biased, but still). My husband is a hard-working, hilarious hunk of a man. And when we set out to, we can have some seriously good times together.
Here we have the dynamic band of Super Silas, Stupendously Silly Daddy-man,
 and Rainbow Bee Girl (and Jonah, looking on in confusion).
I had to catch this on my phone because they
wouldn't pose long enough for the camera ;-)

But I'm sure we aren't the only ones who get a bit frumpy with our family time. You know what I'm talking about - dad comes home from work, you sit down to dinner, and when dinner's over, mom and dad just feel like it's time to clock out for the day, the tv goes on, and you waste some time until finally you can get the kids ready for bed and say "goodnight"! 

Now, don't get me wrong, I know that from time to time, evenings like that are about all anyone has the energy for, and sometimes it can be great bonding for everyone to just sit back and relax together. But it's probably not how you want to be spending the majority of your family time, am I right?

I mean, families are precious! And we have a duty to our kids to raise them up and teach them all kinds of things (the sheer enormity of the task boggles my mind!). When I really sit and think about it, I can't really afford to waste lots of time. But really, I'm not setting out to just sit and watch TV, I'm just not being intentional about doing something else productive.

Thinking about and planning fun family activities takes time, effort, and preparation. Could you use some ideas? Boy, I can! So, I've been thinking about it and looking around. And, don't we all know, there's another part to the equation - money! Sure, a trip to Silver Dollar City is a blast, but it ain't easy on the wallet! Thankfully, fabulous family fun doesn't have to be expensive.

Some of my fondest memories growing up are the times when my dad would say, "Let's go for a drive." We would all load up in the van and drive about 20 miles to a more rural town and get milkshakes at this  burger joint. My brother and I would watch the people playing pool and pretend to play songs on the jukebox, or as I got older, we'd sit and talk as a family about random stuff. We'd drive home after dark, and I'd usually have to be carried in to bed (an amazing feeling of being cared-for as a child). It definitely didn't seem like a big deal at the time, and I always thought we did it because we didn't have cable and my dad was bored. In hindsight, I think he's just a lot smarter than I was giving him credit for. (That kind of thought makes me a bit teary, if I'm being honest, and I really hope my kids think like that about me someday.)

Keeping that in mind, here's a list of 36 fun things to do as a family. I think that, from experience, these are activities that both moms and dads can be involved in (truly, dads are often the very best pretenders once they let their guards down). Remember that my kids are preschool-aged, but a lot of these can be adapted for many ages.

  1. Take funny pictures of each other (use your old camera or if you have an iPhone, get a goofy picture app or two - CamWow or Old Booth are both quite fun)
  2. Play charades
  3. Go for a drive
  4. Build a hideout
  5. Go to the library
  6. Play with toy cars (make a "track" with masking tape on your floor)
  7. Go "treasure hunting"
  8. Do a scavenger hunt
  9. Feed the ducks
  10. Have a puppet show
  11. Dress up like super heroes (In our family's case, I acted as the super hero dispatcher - like Alfred in Batman - and told the kids and dad what was happening [zebra on a cliff, puppies in a smoky kitchen, burglars stealing mommy's chocolate] and then they used their specialized hero powers to save the day!)
  12. Pretend the seasons (kids can come up with some pretty interesting ideas here - what does it feel like, what do you wear, what does the weather do, what fun things can you do. This is also a chance to dress up for a totally different season -- have a snowball [rolled-up socks] fight in the middle of summer, or wear your swimsuits and layout on the beach [living room floor] in the winter.)
  13. Go for a walk
  14. Go for a hike
  15. Go Geocaching
  16. Camp out in the living room
  17. Make shadow animals
  18. Go for a picnic
  19. Make ice cream sundaes (in cookie bowls)
  20. Have some fun with glow sticks (You can usually find these at Dollar Tree or the dollar bins at Target. Crack a few and throw them into the hideout, use the necklaces as lightsabers, or stick some in balloons as you blow them up.)
  21. Play the Present Game (Christmas or birthday prep - wrap stuff you already have and then practice gracious acceptance.)
  22. Set up a pretend store and take turns "buying" things
  23. Have a tea party
  24. Make sidewalk chalk graffiti (best is to leave kind notes and pictures for family and friends and neighbors as a surprise)
  25. Play hair salon/barber (even hairless dads like to have their scalps rubbed, right?)
  26. Hit up the Dollar Tree for cheap kites, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, frisbees, and balls for a super fun park day
  27. Get together with other families
  28. Play board games backwards or make up your own variation
  29. Look for cloud shapes
  30. Go visit family
  31. Check out the local museums
  32. Skip rocks at a creek
  33. Do something crafty (my husband used to hesitate when I'd suggest a family craft, but I think he's catching on, and sometimes he actually has the best creations!)
  34. Do a charity walk
  35. Pick up trash at a park
  36. Clean at the church

Need more ideas? You are in luck! The following sites have additional lists for the upcoming seasons. Something is sure to stimulate your intentional parenting motivations!

Check your local Macaroni Kid newsletter for each week's local family-friendly activities.

50 family fun ideas for fall
Autumn bucket list - 80 ideas

Let's help each other! What other ideas do you have for free or inexpensive family fun?

I'm linking up to these fabulous blogs - check them out!

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