Tips for Togetherness

Enter the Hangout

8 Creative Ways to Spend Family Time Together This Winter

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With the hectic schedules of families, finding the quality time to block out everything else and just be together is more important than ever. Research shows that kids who have dedicated bonding time with their parents and siblings exhibit better behavior, higher academic success, and more compassion. Quality time together should be prioritized as something necessary to the health of your family unit.

So the benefits are clear, but the reality is that finding fun ways to be together can feel overwhelming. Spending time together as a family shouldn’t feel like a chore for parents or kids, but unfortunately, that is sometimes the way it plays out. Picking the right activities based on your family’s personality can go a long way towards making family time something everyone looks forward to and cherishes.

Here are some creative and inexpensive ways get everyone active and excited about being together, no matter what the age of your kids:

Make dinnertime a game.

Research shows that one of the most important things a family can do together is sit down at the dinner table on a regular basis. But once you’ve accomplished that, how do you make the most of that time? One way is to bring some fun to the dinner table is to make it interactive (and to go above and beyond the basic “how was your day?” lines of questioning). You can take turns asking a question that starts “Who would you take to…?” and have each family member pick a spot. Then everyone else has to answer, and explain why. You could also start a story that each person has to add on to until it is complete. Depending on the age of your kids, you can come up with variations of these and other dinnertime games. Hopefully the interaction inspires your kids to continue talking after the game ends about what is going on in their lives.

Do Crafts

You don’t have to be especially artistic to have fun crafting with your kids. In fact, you may have more fun learning how to create, paint, or design something new alongside them. Between ideas on Pinterest and YouTube tutorial videos, you should be able to find a craft that works for your kids’ ages and interests. If your kids are old enough, give them a chance to plan a family craft project too.

Put on a talent show.

Give each family member the chance to shine by hosting a talent show in your living room. Encourage traditional talents, like singing or playing the piano, but also leave it open to more outside-the-box talents like songwriting or acting. Don’t just put your kids in the spotlight; come up with a fun way to showcase your own talents, too.

Make a music video.

If your family is musically inclined, create new lyrics and sing them to the tune of a recognizable song. If your dance moves are awesome, but your singing is not, just lip sync to a family favorite and get creative with the presentation. Make sure your kids call the shots and you play along to get the most fun out of the process. Who knows – you might have the next viral video on your hands (or a documented memory your kids will enjoy re-watching for years to come).

Go geocaching.

If you’ve never heard of it before, geocaching is like a scavenger or treasure hunt that is based on your location. It’s an outdoor recreational activity with enthusiasts all over the world. Participants make use of a smart phone or any other device with GPS capability to find small, waterproof containers that are called “caches.” Once a cache is found, you mark down being there on a paper inside the container. You also get to see the names of all the people that have been there before you, and how many months or years the cache has been hidden there. You can go to the official geocaching site to find locations near you that are part of the worldwide fun.

Attend a class together.

You can either all decide to try something new together, or take turns learning more about an interest of another family member. Find a music studio that offers lessons for all ages, and set aside an appointed time each week to all go and take your respective classes and grow your musical confidence. You could also join a family choir, intramural team, or art club and expand your knowledge together. You will all come out of it with more knowledge than when you began, and will have grown closer as a family unit.

Enter, and train for, a race.

Pick a local athletic race to all participate in and then train together. A popular distance to run as a family is 5K (or 3.1 miles), but you could also look into bike, swimming, or obstacle course races. Remember that the aim of the game is to have fun. Improving your level of fitness is a bonus and may inspire your entire family to be more active all the time.

Create a time capsule.

This should really get the creativity of your kids flowing. Find a box that you can bury and set an appointed time to dig it back up (think 5 or 10 years in the future). Encourage all sorts of contributions, from hand-drawn art to music recordings to photographs. You should also create a questionnaire of likes for each member of the family and have them fill it out to read down the road. However, be sure you take good notes on where you bury the time capsule so you don’t lose track of it!

Spending time together as a family takes some work but can really pay off in the long run. The right activities will allow your family to learn more about one another as well as the larger community. Try several things and ask your kids for suggestions, too. Incorporating a few of these activities into your winter festivities (and year-round routine) can help you learn, grow, and bond together.

What are your favorite ways to spend time together as a family?

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