Guest Blogger, Jordan Smith
Life is busy. From work and school to sports practices, dance recitals and school plays, it seems like there is never enough time to just enjoy being a family. While these day-to-day activities are important for families, they don’t always provide the bonding experiences parents — and kids — so badly crave.
The families that find the time to bond, however, tend to have stronger and healthier relationships. While getting the entire family together takes some planning, it is well worth the effort. Whether you are working on a limited budget or you want to plan the trip of a lifetime, there are several fun bonding activities that the entire family can enjoy. Here are just a few of them.
Plan a Road Trip
Whether it’s around your local area or across the country, a road trip is the perfect way for the entire family to spend some time together exploring new places. If you’re on a tight budget, plan a day trip to check out a new place that is located within an hour or two from home. You don’t have to go far to discover something new and exciting!
Play classic road trip games in the car like “I Spy,” or rock out to everyone’s favorite tunes. Encourage the kids to go without electronics for a while and enjoy the ride.
Plant a Family Garden
You don’t need a ton of space to plant your own garden; a small patch of lawn will do. Get everyone together to plant seeds and watch them blossom and grow. Make maintaining the garden a family project, and even the youngest family members will gain a whole new respect for nature.
When it’s time to harvest, gather everyone in the kitchen to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Even picky kids are more likely to try veggies if they grew them themselves.
Go on the Trip of a Lifetime
There’s no better way to bond than by going on an amazing vacation. Take the kids to Disney World. Embark on a cruise with the entire family. Go explore the sights in another country.
No matter what you do, involve the entire family in the planning process. Decide on destinations and activities with everyone’s interests in mind. Each person will get to do something they’ll truly love, and the rest of the family will learn more about their loved ones’ interests.
Take plenty of pictures and videos of your trip, but don’t spend the entire time staring at a screen. Encourage the entire family to truly interact with each other and enjoy the experiences. While there may be some speed bumps along the way — especially if you have young children — taking a trip to an amazing destination encourages bonding and helps build memories that will last a lifetime.
Have a Craft Day
A rainy weekend is the perfect time to get the entire family together for a craft day. Pinterest is loaded with inspiration for just about any kind of kid-friendly craft you imagine. Make handprint art with the little ones, or try something like a basic sewing or knitting project with older kids.
If you are having a craft day when the sun is shining — or if you have a place inside your home where you don’t mind making a mess — pick up some blank t shirts to tie dye. Tie-dying is messy, but it’s a fun project for kids of all ages, especially since they’ll get to wear what they make. You can also decorate plain t shirts using fabric paint or markers.
Prepare a Meal and Enjoy it Together
If busy schedules make it difficult for your entire family to sit down together to enjoy a meal, you aren’t alone. While eating a meal together at least a few times each week helps build stronger families, it’s something that just doesn’t always fit into the schedule. Make an effort to prepare and eat dinner together as often as possible.
Assign age-appropriate tasks to each family member so everyone has a role in preparing the meal. When it’s ready, gather around the table — without smartphones and tablets — to eat and engage in conversation.
Giving back to the community is a great way to bring the family closer together. Have a family meeting to decide which causes you would like to support.
If you have an animal lover in the family, you may want to take a day to volunteer at a local shelter. If your family loves spending time outdoors, volunteer to do some clean-up work in your neighborhood or at a local park. Volunteer at a homeless shelter or go to a nursing home to spend some time volunteering with the elderly.
There are countless volunteer opportunities in every community, and participating as a family is an amazing bonding experience. Engaging in volunteer work also helps kids develop a sense of gratitude and a strong work ethic. Check out Volunteer Match to find opportunities in your community.
Go on a Nature Walk
Depending where you live, an amazing adventure could be right in your own backyard. Even if you need to travel a bit to find a trail, getting out in nature is a great way to disconnect from the stress of daily life and enjoy time as a family. Spending time in nature gives kids a chance to run, explore and breathe in the fresh air, while it allows parents to unwind.
Encourage your kids to pay attention to the wonders of nature. Help them identify birds and animals, and teach them the importance of respecting their surroundings. Remind them to take nothing but pictures and leave only footprints. Share stories of your own adventures in nature when you were a child.
Bonding with your family doesn’t have to be difficult. It doesn’t even require a lot of time or money. Just scheduling some time to spend together as a family is a great way to strengthen family bonds.