I grew up in a fun family. What did my parents do right? And how can I bring that to my own family?
Parents and kids are so busy: homework, activities and sports (let alone someone has a JOB) Here are 8 ways to make fun a priority in your family:
1. Plan a Quick Overnight or Day Adventure or Trip.
That giddy feeling you had as a kid knowing a fun adventure was coming up next week or in a month? It lasted forever! You were so happy and excited. Do that for your kids. It doesn’t have to cost a ton of money. We all want to take that Disney Cruise to the Bahamas, but packing up for the day or a single overnight early on a Saturday will have your kids squealing the whole way! Blow off the chores and drive the kids to a nearby city where you have planned ahead to a visit to a museum, a park, take a hike, or eat at a great never-been-to restaurant. Anything. Do something you haven’t done before. Rent bikes in a different city an hour from yours. Bring bikes to that city! Sure your little troopers may complain at the start but by the end of the day or overnight trip, their creativity has been sparked because you whisked them away from their day-to-day life and inspired their minds! Cool!
Let Chance Decide: One family we heard about created three bags of ideas. The bags include Index cards of family hand-writtten ideas: Bag A) Spur-of-the-moment, inexpensive quick outing ideas: The simplest activities, such as a picnic in the park, go in one bag; Bag B) more time-consuming/full-day or costly: such as a museum visit, go in another; or Bag C) Longer more Involved activities/locations: such as a trip to an amusement park, or getting on a plane for a holiday or vacation. When the moment comes up where they have free time and funds, the family draws a card from the right bag for that idea. There’s only one rule: “Whatever that card says, we do.”
2. Weekly Game Night
Once a week (pick a night that you stick to and that everyone looks forward to) after dinner keep the family at the table. This is after everyone helps clear the table and does the dishes – it’s time for a game night. Keep time and only let it go on for an hour (or whatever works for your family). Sure game night may be tough when they are little and in constant motion to be able to sit to play, but do it often and challenge the younger ones and you will watch them rise to the game! Remember, your kids are smart! They are yours aren’t they?! Click here to see a list of my favorite games specific to ages. Or click on the link below. I LOVE game night.
3. Celebrate the little things.
Life’s too short to save all the fun for only birthdays and big holidays! Why not celebrate a high test grade? A day when someone helped another? When someone scored a goal? Anything and everything!
The other cool thing I’ve been doing is going to the 99 cent store to gather super fun and amazing crap (yes, it’s cheap, call it crap, it’s the 99 cent store!) and decorating certain spots in our home with reasonably priced fun ‘seasonal’ decorations! Like for St. Patrick’s Day we had a centerpiece and door hanger of a Leprechaun, for Easter we have 4 glittered colored eggs on the island and one big one hanging in the hall. The kids get excited each and every time I take something down and put up something new! Total cost for this excitment? Anywhere from $4-$5! Seeing their happy faces is worth every penny!
4. Interview Your Kid:
When will your kid ever be the age he/she is right now??? Capture that moment! If one of my kids is explaining a story or detailing something about their day, I run for anything to record them with. I yell, “Stop!” and when the camera is recording I say, “Go ahead…” They used to argue or say they were embarrassed, but now they are so used to me doing this and love seeing old videos of themselves that they just keep talking.
And it’s soooo simple. Hold the camera and ask them, “Tell me that story of the cat getting his paw stuck in the door again?” or “How did you lose your tooth?” I can’t impress on you enough to do this – and do it often. You will thank me one day.
And Make SURE you do this on their birthdays. Make up a bunch of questions. Like; “Who are your friends? Why do you like them? What do you want to do when you grow up? Ask the same questions every year – watch how they change. Ask them about their favorite family memory or moment. And re-read the last two sentences in the paragraph above and or watch the video below!!
5. The “Stolen Kid” Days:
Kids thrive on routines, but it’s often the unexpected moments that they truly treasure forever. When I was a kid, on a cold snowy day in Chicago, my mom & dad came to school and stole my brother and I from our classrooms. With bags packed for a week at Disneyworld we headed straight to the airport. I was 12 and out of my mind. I still get excited thinking about this story now.
While I tried this tactic with my own kids – my middle teenage child came racing to the school office in tears…”What’s happening? I don’t want to leave! Why are you doing this to me!?” my youngest was how I would have hoped, excited out of his mind, “Where are we going!?” It was a surprise! See the video of where I took him: (FYI – serious mom and son memories were made that weekend. All because I took action and planned a super fun trip! As my old travel buddy used to say, “Just book the flight…the rest works itself out!” So…BOOK THE FLIGHT!! The rest comes…
Stolen Locally: Getting back to that Teenager travel thing, to accomodate teenagers not wanting to leave their friends, each year I will snag my kids individually out of school for a hit day. When they were younger I’d take them for the whole day, but now that they can’t miss school or they fall behind in grades, I do it during lunch. All I do is pack their lunch with odd things things they can’t eat, like small empty bowls or tupperwear, and ROCKS, and a LARGE note: “you’ve been hit! Meet me in the office!” They come running to the office thrilled and feeling like they are the most special child in the world!
I know a mom who puts her kids to bed and about 5 minutes later bangs a drum yelling “ice cream!” Yes. Sounds weird? She’ll get her kids up and out of bed and take them out to ice cream in their PJ’s! Crazy? No! No! No! SHE’s MY IDOL!!! SHE’s my FUN idol!
6. It’s only food!
Whenever I have a few minutes or feel the urge, I’ll stop in the 99 cent store and buy the new ‘tester’ products they are selling. Did you know the 99 cent store has ‘tester’ items for sale? Meaning companies produce new products and they get tested at the 99 cent store CHEAP! You only know they are tester products because you recognize the company/brand but not the flavor/type of the item. I bring these items home and have the kids do taste tests. They either love it or hate it and have a blast doing it.
Cake for breakfast? Why not? It’s the first meal of the day…they do have all day to burn it off! And are those Pop Tarts really with less sugar? Here is a video on the 99 cent store!
When I was a kid I used to walk out my front door to a party in the street. Kids were everywhere. Today, kids have to call and book appointments to hang with their friends. Or join clubs or groups of sports just to hang out with people. Hence the reason I would try and get all three of my kids “play-dates” at the same time so they could all be busy and entertained under one roof. It’s crazy cool to see them all interact and create things to keep themselves busy. From games to arts & crafts to chasing the dog….they learn to create fun. Which expands their minds and keeps kids creative. Click here to see the family games I have tested and approved that my kids LOVE to play.
If you learn one thing from coming to and subscribing to my website it is this: LIFE IS SHORT. And if you keep in mind that you really only have your kids for 18 years, you’ll take action faster to be a part of their lives and teach them all that you want to teach them.
Here is the basis to remember: A Harvard 80 year long study has shown that true happiness comes from connecting with others. So, invite your friends over, OFTEN, to play too! Have a pizza party (kids and adults) where everyone brings ingredients to make pizza (you provide the dough and sauce!) Have a cookie party!? Where everyone brings over sprinkles and cookie cutters and you provide the dough and the pans for the oven!
If you blow all this off and do nothing or say, “I’ll do it tomorrrow…” you know you won’t. Do something NOW. Being a boring or a fun family is all up to you. The person reading this right now!
Live a little and enjoy what you have in front of you! Very soon your little creatures will be up and gone from your house and these memories you create today will be ones you’ll have forever.
And your kids will rememeber them too!
I LOVE creating videos for you, my precious loyal readers. Check this one out too! It’s about making memories!