What I love most about spring and summer is the endless possibilities for activities. Winter can be a little dry if you don't like being cold, especially with a baby!
Once the sun starts reappearing and the warm weather begins to come out we all get a little excited.
Spending time as a family is incredibly important for both you and your children, even better if this time can be spent outdoors. Children from families with a strong family culture have benefits that those without family time are not afforded - they feel more secure and are more likely to come to a parent when they need help.
Finding ways to come together during a week can be challenging with today's busy schedules and lifestyles, but you will not regret your decision and neither will your children.
Creating Family Time
Start by having a family meeting with your kids (if they are old enough to participate). If your kids are babies or young toddlers this is an ideal time to begin family time traditions.
Look for at least one day a week where you can all come together to spend time together without any other commitments. This time will be different for everyone based on their schedules. It could be a Tuesday night or Sunday morning, or perhaps Saturday evening.
For our family, weekends are typically reserved as family time so that we can do as much as we can together. We don't make plans very often for weekends and we regularly have planned activities such as Pizza and a Movie/Game Night Friday evenings and then on the weekends we open it up to more spontaneous, on the fly activities.
Set that time aside in your calendar or phone and make it a reoccurring event so that no one ever forgets!
Once your day is set, the next step is simple: Come Together.
What do do?
That depends on your family. For our family, family time is typically technology free time. We will occasionally watch a movie together for family time but most often it is more of an interactive activity.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Game Time: Family board games are a great way to come together, especially as your children age. If your children are toddlers perhaps it looks more like Hide and Go Seek or peekaboo for a baby. As your children age you can start introducing them to board games. Cooperative games are a fabulous way to create a family culture that is not competitive.
- Cooking Together: What about preparing a meal all together. Weekend brunches or breakfasts are a fabulous opportunity for this. Everyone can work together to create a delicious meal for all to be enjoyed. Toddlers can collect flowers for the table and chop veggies/fruits, older kids can participate in the cooking of the meal and setting of the table. Then you can all sit back and share stories from the past week - successes, failures, good moments and bad.
- Campfires: A lovely evening ritual can be sitting around a campfire cooking food and singing songs. If you don't have a fire pit in your backyard head to a local park and create your own cozy space. Bring a picnic and some blankets too!
- Hiking: We love exploring new parks, trails and outdoor centres. Sometimes we take a short hike and others we head out for a day of hiking and picnicing.
- Swimming and Boating: A day at the beach or on the water in canoes will bring everyone together. The splashing, laughing and dirt will make you all giddy and excited to be spending time each other.
- Art Time: Create something together or at the same time in the same room. Working together towards a common piece or everyone working individually on their own pieces is a wonderful way to bring out your creative juices while still spending time together. Babies and toddlers can participate in finger painting as an example while older children can do watercoloring painting, learn to draw, creating recycled art pieces, painting rocks, etc. Be sure to keep the rules to a minimum as to not break down the flow of the activities. Art supplies are abundant in the outdoors right now - rocks, pinecones, flowers, leaves, nuts.
- Read Aloud: Take a book from the library or your own collection and set some time aside to read together. Classic books like Little House on the Prairie work well for older children and even simple story books will be exciting for young children and babies. This is especially fun by a camp fire or outdoors in a hammock/under a gorgeous tree.
- Dance Parties: Turn up the music and start dancing and singing together! Kids love it when the music gets cranked and they can wiggle to their beat. Have some fun together, turn the lights down and even put on fancy costumes if you want!
Seek out activities that are not structured and can be improvised if plans need to change. Remember that the key is to spend time engaged and close to each other.