When your only meals together are Thanksgiving and Christmas, when the stress of the holidays has taken a toll and you feel as if you're playing Tag Team Parenting it might be time for a Family Night where everything else get puts on hold for some R & R. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
1. Hold a Family Olympics. This could be as simple as "Who can pull Dad off the couch?" or as involved as walking balance beams and sack races. Awards or no awards, it's the fun and silly ceremony that counts. We'll string donuts along the outdoor clothesline and have a dangling donut-eating contest or practice our field goals with a soccer ball and a laundry basket.
2. Create a family journal. Get a composition book and let each member takes turns entering a paragraph. Can include pictures, favorite jokes, or individual responses to questions such as, "What was the funniest/saddest/silliest thing that happened to you this year?"
3. Hold a family book club. Charlotte's Web, Harry Potter, Little Women, read it together and then talk about it.
4. Hold parent/child interviews and videotape them. Make up a list of questions for your child and then interview them "60 Minutes" style and videotape the whole thing.
5. Hold a family planning session for an upcoming season. At Thanksgiving our family sits down and makes a list of everything we might want to do during the Christmas season then each person can vote for one thing--then we schedule those activities in. Ice fishing, sledding, skiing, camping, whatever is voted for we do. Works well for vacations too.
6. Create a family time capsule.
7. Hold a family recital or talent show.
8. Play Giant games. These are just games where family members are the pieces, like tic tac toe. Members wear different colored hats or paper Xs and Os on their shirts and I use masking tape on the floor to make the game board.
9. Plant and tend a family garden. Indoors or out there's something about digging in dirt that appeals to kids and producing something as a family can appeal to everyone.
10. Visit a local historical or cultural site. Museums, parks, battlefields or historic homes--study about it and then visit.
11. Tie a quilt together. It's an old-fashioned activity that gives everyone a chance to talk. Small children can color with fabric markers on the quilt before adults tie it.
12. Bake something together. Even if it's just rice krispie treats, the kitchen is a place to bond like no other.
13. Go to the library.
If you don't have enough people for any of these activities, invite another family to join. Next week will be part two.
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