49 Practical Tips To Make Spending Time With Family Super Fun
Are you in my boat?
Swamped with work deadlines, forgot to thaw meat for dinner, piles of unfolded laundry in random places…..and two kids I love and live for wanting to play with me.
But instead of jumping up to grab a balloon & play “don’t drop it” for 5 minutes, I wince & grumble something about too-busy-mommy-work-laundry-dinner-after.
Then I go through the rest of the day with my self-proclaimed “terrible parenting decision” hanging over my head.
The idea of “spending time with family” can feel very overwhelming.
We see it as a “big deal” and feel pressure to “get it right” every time. It can seem in our heads like yet another huge undertaking that we have to squeeze into our already over-stretched lives.
What’s worse is that the family can feel our negative energy. It can feel to them like we don’t want to be there, even when that’s the opposite of how we are feeling.
But it doesn’t have to be this way!
Quality family time only needs to be one thing – intentional. Not long, not expensive, and definitely not “perfect.”
There are plenty of small moments in our day that can become quality family time, if we are open to them. There are also many different ways to be together as a family, which check off multiple “excellent parenting” boxes at once, like:
- Chore-completing (!)
- Emotionally stimulating
This list is filled with super-simple, practical tips and ways to fit intentional family time into our lives.
What are the benefits of spending time with family?
Spending time with family is IMPORTANT!! There are so many benefits to spending family time together, including:
- Maintaining open lines of communication between us and our children, spouse and relatives. Being consistently present together creates trust!
- Creating opportunities to model appropriate social behavior for our young and teenage children. This can include turn-taking, losing gracefully, and teamwork.
- Showing our young family members what to expect from their families as adults. This is our chance to show them that it’s possible to have a work-life balance that includes fun time for everyone!
- Plus, the feeling we get when our kids are open-mouth laughing is indescribable. We need more of that!
Tips To Make Spending Time With Family Easier:
I’ll be the first to say that sometimes, spending time with family is NOT easy. Luckily, I have a few tricks & hacks up my sleeve to get the ball rolling:
Have a “Yes” day.
What do I mean by that?
I mean to say “yes” to every request to play, go somewhere, or do something.
By pre-deciding, you are taking any effort, worry or feelings completely out of the equation. There’s no anxiety about how messy it may get, or how long it’s going to take, because you have no time to think about any of that. You’ve already decided, and it’s GO time.
It doesn’t have to be the whole day. Try out a “Yes” afternoon or a “Yes” morning. You can even simply decide to say “Yes” to the next 3 requests you hear.
PRO TIP: Do NOT tell your kids that you are going to say yes to everything!!! You’ll end up with 3 new pets, a rainbow-colored house and chocolate cake for dinner. Keep it in your mind.
Fake It ‘Till You Make It.
This is one of my all-time favorite “mom-hacks.”
Sometimes, I just don’t feel like playing with my kids. I’m too tired or worried or annoyed to be any fun, or I’m snapping and grumpy.
So, I flick a switch in my brain and pretend I’m the babysitter instead.
I literally pretend I work here, and I get to go home in a few hours. Try this. You will not believe how much more fun you are after you take out the “mom” part.
“Mom” has stress, baggage and extra chores all day and night. “Babysitter” gets paid to be fun, then leave. What’s easier than that?
Sometimes all it takes is that little change in perspective, to be more present and easygoing. The kids will feel your mood change and it will uplift them in return.
Schedule as much of the family time as you can.
If you know it’s coming, you can prepare mentally.
How can I spend my free time with my family?
Finally, we get to the tips!!
How much time should we spend with our family? Consistency and Quality are key here. You can’t set a timer on love! Some of these tips take 30 seconds, some a few hours. As you read through them, consider which would fit into your unique situation.
Here are 49 EASY ideas to make spending time with family funny, happy, silly and unforgettable:
Tips for Spending Super-Fun Time With Our Kids:
- Write letters/draw pictures to mail to relatives. (This counts as spending time with relatives, too! Win-win!) I don’t know why but kids love mailboxes. Even if the note is 3 words long, stuff it in an envelope. My son loves writing a joke or two.Bonus: the kids get to practice remembering & writing their address! And while you’re at it….
- Take a walk! To the nearest mailbox, for example. Let them practice saying hello to neighbors, crossing the street safely, and searching for wildlife. If it’s snowy you can look for animal tracks!
- Ask about their ideal family vacation. We spend tons of time trying to think up places and things to do that we think our kids will love. Why not ask them? Create a vacation “bucket list” together.
- Make meals together. Not only do kids love to help AND get messy, they practice measuring, kitchen safety, and cleaning up after themselves. **This one takes a good bit of patience – It really doesn’t matter if things come out perfectly. Practice makes progress, and life skills like cooking are extremely important to master early. And while you’re at it…..
- Sit for meals together. It could be breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even a snack before bed. Having a regular in-the-same-room time creates time for talking together!
- Ask a daily question. Make it something that aligns with your family’s values. This is an easy way to reinforce the kinds of behavior you want to see in your children. For example, at dinnertime we each answer, “What did I do today that made someone else happy?” and “What did someone do for me today that made me happy?”
- Have a dance party. Put on a funny song and get moving! Best 3 minutes ever!
- Fill boxes & bags for donation. I like to do this whenever a birthday or gift-giving holiday is around the corner. I sell it as, “We need room for the new stuff.” Don’t be stingy with your stuff! You can also set a good example by proactively not shopping for unnecessary stuff regularly.
- Include kids in home repairs. Obviously you don’t want to give anything sharp or pointed to a small child. But giving kids age-appropriate tasks, while showing them how something works on the inside, is an excellent learning experience. Plus, if it doesn’t come out exactly as expected, you just created a fun memory to enjoy!
- Give a compliment, then ask about it. Children have all sorts of abilities and hobbies. Saying, “I love how you _______, can you show me how?” opens up dialogue, gives confidence, and creates one-on-one time with your child.
- Read together. Most libraries have lists of age-appropriate books to skim through. Maybe even make a little chart to track the number of pages or minutes read, as a family! #goals!
- Have a sleepover in the living room! Put up a tent, maybe even drag the mattresses down and set them up on the floor!
- Share a funny story from the past. If you have a photo album to go through, even better!
- Let their friends come over. Especially in your child’s teenage years, you’ll want to get to know the people they are spending time with and learning social cues from. Don’t be afraid to talk to them, either! Ask questions! You are learning about them, as well as helping them with their public speaking and politeness.
- Set up a regular time for chatting with your teenager. Sneak a few spoonfuls of ice cream with them one evening a week and talk it out.
- Set up Family Game Night. Instead of board games, find some out-of-the-box games. Check out this one from Shot of the Yeagers, called Explosion! It’s a fun twist on hide-and-seek:
- Check out a farmer’s market together. Or an actual farm!
- Volunteer together. Search online for community volunteer opportunities in your area.
- Plant a garden together. Setting out one or two pots for veggies that grow tall, like string beans or tomatoes, is easy and fun! Just make sure they have drainage holes. You and your child can water it every day, and watch it grow! If you have room in the yard to plant in the ground, fantastic! Flowers are great too, pick a few that are known to attract butterflies.
How To Spend More Time With Our Siblings:
- Have a “Goal-Setting Brunch” together. Goals are not just for January anymore, people. Every three months is the bare minimum you should be reviewing and adding goals. Why not grab the brothers and sisters? Here’s a free goal template from Passion Planner. It’s a terrific vision board-type layout for 3-month, 1-year, 3-year and Lifetime goals. And while you’re at it…..
- Plan a vacation. Even if it’s just a total fantasy dream vacation – what would it look like? Who would go? How much would it cost? Sometimes it’s fun to just get out of our heads for a while and into a whole new world. Who knows? You may find out that it’s easier than you think to get away for a bit!
- Have a pot-luck. Each can make a little something, and take turns hosting. Make it fun by having a different cuisine or theme each time.
- Go somewhere you used to frequent as children. Have a picnic in the park your mom took you to every weekend, or have a drink at the bar you used to frequent together. Let some silly or funny memories come up and out.
- Go to a puppy store or animal shelter. Is one of you having a bad day, week or month? Nothing gets you out of a crappy mood like cute little puppies. Hold a few puppies! Instant mood-booster.
- Go to a paint bar together. I’m suggesting this because one recently opened in my town & it looks totally cool! You get an easel, paints, brushes and a glass of wine, how fantastic is that?
- Have a video game competition. Bonus points if you can find a game you played as kids!
- People-watch at an outdoor cafe.
- Take a wacky exercise class together. Floating yoga is a thing!! Do it!!
- Clean out each other’s closets. You’ll have hand me downs galore if you have sisters!
How To Stay Connected With Our Spouse/Partner:
- Schedule time together. Get that date night on the calendar.
- Schedule alone time together. There’s no way both of you are on the same page at the same time every night. But we can take some proactive steps to get in the right headspace if we know what’s coming, amiright?
- Take an exercise class together.
- Draw portraits of each other.
- Watch a foreign movie in an independent theater.
- Write out date night ideas on small pieces of paper and put them in a box. Pick one from the box for your next date night! Throw in a “go to the arcade” paper, those are fun!
- Make your next date night something active. How about rock climbing, bowling, rent a tandem bike, or indoor skydiving?
- Borrow each other’s favorite books at the library, and read on a park bench together.
- Pick out each other’s clothes for a week. You’ll probably be surprised by which of your outfits are your spouse’s favorites!
- Have a daily compliment. Help your spouse feel appreciated by taking a minute once a day to say thanks for something, or complimenting them on something you know they are working on. You can even set an alarm on your phone as a quick reminder. This doesn’t have to be elaborate, just a quick few kind words will do the trick.
- Take a personal day when the kids are at school. Take a day trip to a highly-rated restaurant out of town, or stay in bed all day, nobody’s watching!
How To Spend More Quality Time With Mom & Dad:
- Ask them to come over and make that recipe they always cooked when you were a child. Let your home fill up with the happy memory, and tell your kids all about it!
- Schedule a weekly or bi-weekly call. Life gets in the way a LOT. I personally have an alarm on my phone that goes off every Thursday at about 6pm to call my folks & see what they’re up to. It’s good for the kids to see you doing this as well.
- Bring the kids over to check out their photo albums. There will be plenty of awesome stories!
- Bake some cookies or a snack with the kids to bring over.
How To Stay In Touch With Other Relatives:
- Make a group chat. Whatsapp is great for this. You can easily send audio, video or text and it’s free to use around the world. Who says quality family time always has to be in person?
- Schedule a Family Night. Have each relative bring a game and a snack or drink! Each household can take turns hosting.
- Have a silly contest. This can be an add-on to the “group chat” idea. Vote on who can take the funniest picture, or who can make the silliest face.
- Keep track of milestone events. Out-of-house relatives are not so easy to keep up with. Keeping their birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, births and new jobs on our calendars makes it easy to reach out at good times. It shows them they are in our thoughts, and that feels good.
Keep the Quality Family Time Going:
Fitting one or two of these tips into our regular, daily routines will create wonderful, life-long habits.
To keep the mood going, here are a few Spending Time with Family Quotes:
“At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, a parent.” – Barbara Bush
“It’s very important to prioritize. I know, for me, my family comes first. That makes every decision very easy.” – Jada Pinkett Smith
“I don’t think quantity time is as special as quality time with your family.” – Reba McEntire
“I think people that have a brother or sister don’t realize how lucky they are. Sure, they fight a lot, but to know that there’s always somebody there, somebody that’s family.” – Trey Parker
I hope you enjoyed this post! Let me know in the comments below which tips you’ve tried, and share your tips for spending time with family with us!
Hi! I’m Mina, a Work-At-Home-Mom of 2 who loves helping Working Moms get super-prepared & organized, so we can be flexible when we want to be! Let’s organize Work & Motherhood, so the two don’t strangle each other! Check out How to Plan Your Work Week for Maximum Productivity, and grab your free Weekly Planner Template!