Your Favorite Family Activities
— Maria of Glen Ellyn, Illinois
You just pick a present from the pile and open. We have been celebrating Rooster Day for seven years, and my children are now 13, 14 and 15. Every year, more friends and family hear about Rooster Day, so the party gets larger. We're ready to solicit Hallmark for an official holiday card!
— Eileen of Springfield, Pennsylvania
— Brittini of Hughson, California
I am so happy and overwhelmed at the pure excitement and expectancy when it is tea time in our house. No one has tea time on the same night, so no one shares their personal tea time. We have a 13-year-old son and a 7-year-old daughter who both look forward to tea time just as much as the other. Of course, the 7-year-old "girlie-girl" brings her own style to every tea time with Dad! She sets out her finest tea set, silverware and even dessert.
According to my husband, it is absolutely amazing and humbling to see what you can learn about your children, and from your children, in just a little time. Of course, we do all sorts of things as a family, but to the children, I am sure this is one of the most special.
— Tameka of Richardson, Texas
We live in Texas where it is too warm for snow, so we have an indoor snowball fight with either crumpled sheets of paper made into snowballs. Or, sometimes this will happen spontaneously when the kids are helping with the laundry and start tossing sock balls. It brings a lot of fun and laughter and a light way to approach chores.
Sometimes there will be family game night, and we take turns picking the game. It could be Twister, Clue or Zingo, and we also like to do fondue. Game night and fondue is a "must do" on New Year's Eve each year.
— Laura of The Woodlands, Texas
Each day, I make a conscious effort to get outside and be active with my kids, and I also let them take the lead in deciding what we do. When the weather was warm, we biked to school, worked in the garden and took daily nature walks. One Friday, when I asked my son, "What is something special that we could do together this weekend?," at his suggestion, we pitched a tent in the backyard and spent two nights in it. Now that the weather is colder, we bundle up for walks to school and play outside, rake leaves or shovel snow.
When it's too cold, we "bring the outside in." For example, last week we sprouted seeds on the windowsill, and last night, when it was almost bedtime and too cold outside, I asked my 6-year-old (who was tormenting his younger brother), "What can we do together?" He found some balloons in a craft kit, and after spending 30 minutes figuring out how to blow them up, proceeded to spend an hour with his younger brother playing "volleyball." The balloons made it easy to hit and return to the other, and I was amazed at how active their game of volleyball became. The boys had a tremendous amount of exercise and had a blast!
Being outside allows relationships, creativity and activity to unfold, which leads to a healthy lifestyle and which I believe can reverse the negative effects of past unhealthy choices. The first step is consciously choosing to spend time with your kids away from the distractions that exist for each of us inside the house and look right beyond our doorstep. Sit on the stoop, notice the clouds, share what you like about being outside.
— Rebecca of Gainesville, Virginia
— Sheila of Columbia City, Indiana
Then, when the song starts, we paint. We paint, as fast as we can, the colors and brush strokes that we feel from the song. We try to cover the whole canvas, but try to let the music guide us. There is no "wrong" way to do this. Even my 2-year-old has a great time. When the song is over, you stop. It is that simple. It is so fun to see what creative expressions of the song end up on each canvas after three minutes. I have included a picture of the painting "Somewhere over the Rainbow."
— Aime of Cockeysville, Maryland
If the weather is nice, we might also make a colorful web outside in the yard. The children have balls of yarn that they tie loosely around their waists. Then, they throw the balls to any other child. As the children catch a ball, they pass it round their waists and throw it to somebody else. The process is great fun in itself, but what is remarkable is watching the web develop. Once you have used all the yarn, you pass the loop down and step out of it, then form a circle pulling the web tight. It is hard to believe, but the web is strong enough to hold the weight of a child, and each child gets a turn laying in the center and allowing the rest of the group to support them.
Both of these activities are great for kids and adults too!
After these two activities, the kids love to get into my trunk of old clothes and costumes and play dressup, have a water balloon fight or take turns hitting a piñata filled with candy. We also have a box of questions like, "What person has inspired you the most in your life?" and each child takes a turn selecting a card and answering it.
— Suzy of Speedway, Indiana
We work in downtown Seattle weekdays, but on the weekends, we hit the trails. There is just something that feels very good [about] spending the day in the silence of the forest, splashing in a mountain lake or just taking in the views from a mountaintop. Nature recharges us, bonds us and fills us with joy. Did I mention it is almost free too? Just an annual trail pass, gas to the trail head, packed lunch, a good pair of hiking boots, and we are good to go.
— Charlene of Bothell, Washington
My mother now continues this tradition—not only with her grandchildren, but her grown children as well. Mom's enthusiasm for the activity is just as vibrant and free as any child. I'd describe myself as the most reserved of my parents' children. Yet, within the safety of my family's tradition, I've been able been able to temporarily abandon my inhibitions. Within this context of mass drenching, I am free to join in a celebration of giddy laughter, physicality and deep trust. My large family trusts each other enough to create a water fight that is less about combativeness and more about unity.
— Rebecca of Logan, Utah
Through the years we fished a lot, especially when company came over and we had barbecues. Thirteen years later, our first grandson arrived. He has been fishing, catching frogs, going in the paddle boat and loving this place since he could walk. He is totally obsessed with fishing and catches big bass, bluegills and carp all by himself. When my daughter asked him what he wanted to do for his third birthday party, which is in April, he said, "Have a big bass fishing party at Papa and Grammy's." We feel really blessed to have moved here and have these opportunities for our kids and grandkids. It brings out the kid in all of us to catch frogs, fish and be outside enjoying nature.
— Pam of Stansbury Park, Utah
— Sarah of Topeka, Kansas
At first, when we proposed this quest to the boys, they were not happy. They said that we didn't do this to the girls. I said, we aren't doing it to you, we are doing it with you! They now have risen to the challenge and, frankly, leave us in the dust.
— Barbara of Blauvelt, New York
More ways to bond with your children.