Top 10 Tips for Family Fun
Although the years are brief, the days are longer. Families expressed this carpe diem attitude when we asked them to provide their top suggestions for making family life as joyful as possible. We chose the best comments out of hundreds and categorized them into seven groups. You’ll notice that the concepts are straightforward (Create a list of things to accomplish! Draw on the windows! ), but the memories made are priceless.
- Together, they make adventure plans
It is simpler to overcome inertia if you have done some preliminary work. These families are aware that having a fun strategy is essential to prevent the postponement of special outings and activities for “Someday.”
Encouragement Outings: The Linduski family in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, maintains an inspiring bulletin board in the foyer. When one of the members sees an article about a must-visit location, he cuts it out and pins it up. Mom Toni says, “There are a few bigger adventures we wish to go on, like a trip to visit redwood forests in California.” Yet, the majority of the suggestions are afternoon outings, such as zip line tours, trips to pumpkin patches, or hikes to waterfalls.
Seasonal Must-Dos: Every few months, Amy and the Carter children—Emily, 11, Jasper, 8, and Natalie, 5—sit down and brainstorm a list of the things they enjoy doing. Planting flowers, embarking on a scavenger hunt, and visiting five new parks are some examples of springtime activities. The Franklin family from Franklin, Indiana, then crosses off each task when it is completed. Amy says, “I often get caught up in the basics of life. “The lists ensure that we arrange fun activities every week.”
The Sanders family of Elk Grove, California, collaborates to pack three grab bags with last-minute excursion ideas that are jotted down on index cards. Simpler activities, like a picnic in the park, go in one bag; more involved ones, like a trip to an amusement park, go in another; and more time-consuming or expensive ones, like a museum visit, go in a third. The family selects a card from the appropriate bag whenever they have free time and money. Mom Barbara reveals that there is only one rule: “We do whatever that card says.”
- They make entertaining zones inside their house
Making space for entertainment may turn a house into a home; you don’t necessarily need to add a slide to your stairwell (although one of our readers did!).
Graffiti Artists: You may still provide your children the opportunity to color their world without giving them spray paint. To allow her daughters to use dry-erase markers on the windows, Kelly Maver keeps a jar of them on the kitchen window seat. “My 9-year-old practices her spelling and makes murals for every season, and my 2-year-old pretends to write words,” the Hewitt, New Jersey, mother explains before assuring us, “It wipes right off!”
The Axlers of Madison, New Jersey, redefine the “home team” by turning their basement into a sports stadium. The green carpet has been marked with masking tape to indicate bases and a home plate, yard lines, or goals (depending on the season). After that, Jordan, 7, and Becca, 4, start playing with Wiffle bats or soft plastic balls. In contrast, the Warther family in Dover, Ohio, uses extra-close mowing to turn a portion of their lawn into a golf green. “We line holes with sunken soup cans and add bike-flag markers. The kids and their friends enjoy practicing their chipping and putting,” said the Warther family.
Making a Child Cave: Kids and hiding places go together like peanut butter and jelly. In Plano, Texas, Carolyn Halliburton converted a closet beneath the stairs into a hiding place with that in mind. Because they are Dallas Cowboys supporters, the family removed several shelving, painted the walls blue and silver, and mounted dry-erase boards. Carolyn adds, “We also placed a curtain in the door to make it more covert.” Taylor, 10, and Andrew, 8, enjoy reading, playing, and creating art there. They also like to hide out with friends, of course.
- They enjoy the small things
Some families believe that life is too short to save the best times for special occasions like birthdays and holidays, so they hunt for justifications to inject some humor into otherwise routine weeks. It doesn’t matter why; what counts is enjoying one another’s company.
Feting the Ordinary (And the Off-the-Wall): Parker, Colorado resident Heather Crosby celebrates what she refers to as “strange holidays” with her twins, aged six and eight. The Thomas family of Willard, North Carolina transforms bizarre holidays into themed dinners, complete with props and costumes. ‘I’ll slip pieces of white chocolate into their lunches on National White Chocolate Day, and we’ve played Monopoly on Play Monopoly Day. My kids were not too fond of National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day, though!’ They observe Fairy Day, Speak Like a Pirate Day, and Cave Night, a tradition in the family. “We serve dinosaur bones, often known as ribs, and we all dress like cavemen” (Tip: For a list of these special days, Google “Everyday Holidays.”)
The Smiths of Poway, California, are known for their passion for amusing… themselves. Mom Joannie says, “Every couple of months, we like to throw modest parties when we are the only visitors.” The three children, who are nine, thirteen, and seventeen years old, choose the occasion—be it the Super Bowl, the Oscars, or simply the premiere of a much-anticipated film—after which they choose the menu (fun appetizers are a favorite) and dress in celebratory attire. Joannie explains, “We get to spend good, quality time with each other and celebrate us as a family.
- The distance between playing and learning is bridged by them
How can you broaden kids’ minds? by enhancing amusement? Some households achieve this by setting aside time for research and curiosity.
Family Book Club: The Edcouch, Texas, Delgados are voracious readers. The family selects a book, reads aloud from it during the day, and has a discussion about it over dinner. They treat themselves to something special (like a movie or an ice cream outing, for example) after they finish a book as a way to make their book club even more gratifying. They’ve recently read Little Women by Mum Laura, the Harry Potter series (a fave), and The Hunger Games.
P is for a party at the Pincock family’s once-a-week alphabet-themed get-togethers. Pink clothing, pizza and pears for lunch, Peter Pan and popcorn, and time spent in the playroom are further highlights. Each letter has its opportunity to shine. In Canton, Michigan, mom Amy says, “The parties kept my preschooler happy and occupied during the long winter months.” By the time spring arrived, all 26 letters had been completed.
Messy exploration: Brighton, Colorado resident Allison Beard thinks allowing children to make a mess also permits them to learn. In fair weather, she assists her 5-year-old son Griffin in getting up to some wild inventions in a backyard science lab. The dining table, draped in a shower curtain, fills in when the going gets tough. According to Allison, “We set him up with a range of benign things he can mix to see what happens.” Sugar, salt, cornflour, baking soda, vinegar, water, and food coloring are among the ingredients. Craft sticks work well for stirring, and ice-cube trays or muffin tins are ideal for mixing. The scene is completed by a lab coat and an evil-scientist laugh.
- They abound in delightful surprises in their life
Routines are great for kids, but they often cherish unexpected pleasures more. These parents know how to catch their kids’ friends off guard when they’re having fun and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Keeping Them Guessing: Nikki Price’s mother used to put the kids in the car on weekends without telling them where they were going, which is how the weekend-afternoon mystery trips got started. Currently, in Plainfield, Illinois, she continues the custom with her kids, Rachel, 4, and Zachary, 8 years old. Nikki states, “We’ll advise them how to dress and if they need to bring anything, but that’s it. “The anticipation is entertaining, and my husband and I enjoy their speculations,” What zoo? At least until they arrive, it is a mystery.
Breaking the Rules: You should go to bed after the lights go off, right? If you’re the three McKee children from Katy, Texas, then no. They expect it every summer, but they never know exactly when it will happen, says their mother Mandy. “I send everyone to bed like normal, then, about 10 minutes later, I blast music throughout the house! Everyone gets up, and we go have ice cream with the kids in their PJs.
Surprising Others: While crazy things are amusing at home, it is even more entertaining when it is forced upon a gullible public. Consider Wave Day. You’re unaware of Wave Day? Oh, right, the Johnson family from Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania invented it. Mom Rebecca, Gwyneth, 14, and Jessica, 10, wave to everyone they can on Wave Day. “My girls find it fascinating that such a straightforward deed can brighten someone’s day.”
- They discover the bright side
These see the bright side families serve as a good reminder that fun is essentially a condition of mind. They transform disappointment into delight by applying some inventiveness.
The Barbee family decided to bring the state fair to them when a storm prevented them from attending it. Sonnet, a mother of four from Idaho Falls, Idaho, says, “I gave everyone one hour to make something to submit as an entry to the Family Fair.” They competed in a trampoline-trick rodeo and a watermelon-eating contest, and there was artwork, a coin collection, baked cookies, and a flower arrangement. We had so much fun with the kids that we forgot we missed the genuine state fair.
Let Them Eat Cake (Or Pie): Distraction is often the best medicine for children who are feeling down. Celi Back switches things up while her husband is abroad on business so that the six children, aged 9 months to 12, don’t miss dad as much. They set up camp in the yard, create a “Welcome Home” sign out of construction paper, and eat pie for dinner, of course. The mother from Tempe, Arizona, recalls eating spaghetti pie and chocolate pie as part of a picnic-style meal.
- They make labor seem enjoyable
Some families forego the nagging and approach domestic duties with a festive attitude. If it must be completed, it might as well be enjoyable.
Sorting It Out: Janet Mongilio exclaims to her family, “Laundry party!” when there is clean laundry to be sorted in their Parkersburg, West Virginia, home. It’s not your typical call to celebration. Imagine a washday equivalent of a food fight: “All four of us hurry to the bedroom, dump the baskets of clothes on the bed, and start sorting—and hurling them at each other.” Chaos! Mayhem! Finally, everyone had a tidy stack of folded garments.
Using the Competitive Spirit: The Button family of Fayetteville, Arkansas, discovers that a race against the clock motivates everyone to complete tedious activities. (Could it be because they have two boys living there, ages 9 and 12?) ‘We set the timer, and we aim, as a family, to beat our own time’, says mum Kristi. ‘We attempt to unload the dishwasher, get the garbage out, or complete any one job collectively. The caveat: “The dishes must be stacked neatly and without damage.”
Searching for a Clean Room: Carol Vargas of Kennesaw, Georgia, turns her children’s passion for cleaning up into a rollicking scavenger hunt. For her housekeeping kids to find, she conceals hints (drawings or objects in little ziplock bags) among the clutter. The children can determine their prize for finishing the activity with the help of the hints. It might be anything as straightforward as a special lunch of favorite dishes, the opportunity to choose a toy from our prize box, or a trip to the neighborhood park.
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