When I was trying to think of what I wanted to write about today, a couple of things kept entering my mind. They all have to do with our current family situation, which I’m not going to go into here. What I decided to go with ideas for free (or cheap), simple family activities. The list definitely won’t be all inclusive, and it may or may not include things that work in every town. But they’re things our family does for fun, and hopefully at least some of them will inspire you to slow down and find something simple to do today.
- Take a walk. I know this is a no-brainer, but it really can be a nice way to spend some time as a family. It’s especially nice in the evenings, once the day has cooled a bit but it’s not cold.
- Go to your local high school and use their sports facilities. Ours leaves the tennis courts and football/soccer field/track open to the public all summer long. We walk down there most evenings to play tennis, and over the weekend, we stopped at the football field after we were done playing tennis. We didn’t have a football with us, but we played an impromptu game of 2-hand touch football using a receipt (that’s what Will had in his pocket – we’d left the tennis balls up near the stroller). Even Small Fry got into the action and was tagging, running, and being “tackled.”
- Cook dinner as a family. This is something we like to do. I, unfortunately, lack the patience to let the children help with the cooking every day, but when Will’s willing to help out too, we make it a family affair. It’s always more fun that way!
- Paint (or draw or color) a picture. You don’t have to be incredibly artistic to do this. Gather up your art supplies (if you don’t have any, you can get them pretty inexpensive in an “everything” store, like Fred Meyer) and go somewhere – the precise location doesn’t matter. The assignment: each person creates a piece of artwork based on the location you’ve chosen, preferably even the same thing. It’s fun to see how different people interpret the same thing. When you’re done, display the art in your home. Another option to use with this activity is to buy some blank notecards for your activity (blank everywhere, not just on the inside). Create your picture on the outside of the card, and then send it to someone special along with a note inside.
- Write a story. Make sure to have lots of paper when you do this. First, work together to come up with a scenario. Then, the first person writes one sentence and hands the notebook to the next person. That person reads the sentence, turns the page, and writes the next sentence in the story. The third person reads sentence number two and writes their own sentence. Continue this way until the story feels complete. Then go back to the beginning of the notebook and read the whole thing.
- Play a family game. Board games can be great fun. Make sure to choose one that everyone can participate in and have fun. If you want to play one that might be a little advanced for some of your children, play in teams – one grownup and a kid or two on each team.
- Invite friends over for dinner. For just a little more than you’d need to feed your own family, you can have friends over and enjoy some wonderful fellowship. You can even match this up with the game night and have the kids play an age-appropriate game in one room (or at a smaller table) while the adults play another somewhere else.
- Read a book. If your kids are anything like mine, they love being read to. Choose a book and read it to them. For our family, novels are best; I like having some sort of “delayed gratification” for the kids. It teaches them to be patient. At the moment, I’m reading them Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Will is reading them Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi. We got this one for free for our Kindle. When they’re done reading the book, we’re going to have them watch the Disney film and compare and contrast the two.
- Make your own game. Or create something new with an existing game. I’m not talking about just using “House Rules,” either. One of Will and the boys’ favorite games is Stratego, and Will enjoys making his own boards for the pieces. A couple of weeks ago, he and Seahawk spent the afternoon planning and creating a board and then bringing it to “life” on a poster board. When they were done, they (along with Munchkin) played the game. Then they used the same board for chess.
- Have family movie night. Choose a film everyone will enjoy, and make popcorn. We don’t use a microwave, so we buy the popcorn kernels in a bag and I pop them on the stovetop. Everyone loves this inexpensive activity!
I hope some of these ideas inspire you to spend some quality time with your family tonight!