My sister and I had a conversation last night that I wanted to share. We were discussing how hard it is as parents to spend really good quality time with our kids. We are pulled in so many directions with work, technology, social commitments and our kids sports and school stuff on top. We were discussing how important we both thought it was to build this super strong nucleus of a family who can survive anything and what a challenge that is to do. So here are some ideas:
1. Game Night -- Whether you play board games or video games take a night out, turn off the phones and just play together. Our family is a big fan of card games and I especially love the board games turned card games. They now have Scrabble, Sorry, Monopoly and Yahtzee all as card games and they are fun. We also love Pit, which can get a bit rowdy. Its really fun to break out a new game and figure it out together, it may become your new favorite. Usually we'll let each family member pick one game to play and we'll play each one.
2. No Phone Zone -- This is my sister's idea. Turn off the phones no matter what you are doing. Each night claim a NO PHONE ZONE for your family. Even if you are just going to watch tv together, leave the phones off and in another room so they aren't vying for your attention.
3. Cook Together -- Have a homemade pizza night. Make or buy some pizza crusts and put out a bunch of toppings and let each person build their own pizza. You can also do Build Your Own Nachos, Loaded Baked Potatoes or Salad Bar nights. These go great with game night or movie night.
4. Movie Night -- Grab a family friendly movie, pop some popcorn and snuggle up on the couch.
5. Explore Your Own City -- go to a travel website (www.tripadvisor.com) and see what there is to do in your city. In Kansas City you could go to the Hallmark Visitor Center, the WWI Memorial, Steamboat Arabia, Nelson Atkins Art Museum, Union Station, College Basketball Experience and more. There are so many things to do right in your own backyard. Take a day and be a tourist in your own town.
6. Hit the Road -- I love Road Trips! I think there is nothing better for family bonding than hitting the open road together. You don't have to go far, try Omaha, Des Moines or St. Louis. Just be together and have fun. Play the license plate game, the alphabet game, sing funny songs, have road trip snacks. Enjoy the journey as much as the destination.
7. Be The Guest -- If you don't have a whole weekend to leave town, just get a hotel right here in town for one night. Kids love hotels no matter where they are. Just make sure you leave your phones at home (or at least turn them off), pack some of those card games, bring your swimsuits and enjoy a night off from the pressures of home.
8. Go on a Picnic -- pack a picnic (or swing by Subway) and then head to a local park. You can play some sand volleyball or kick around a soccer ball, walk a trail or just play on the equipment. On most city websites you can find an inventory of local parks and what kind of facilities they have. Print out the one for your city and then work your way down the list until you find your favorite.
9. Go for a Bike Ride or a Walk -- just take 30 minutes out of your day and go for walk or bike ride around the neighborhood.
I also think it is important to get one on one time too. So have "date days" with your kids. One Saturday have each parent take one of the kiddos (if you have more than 2 you'll have to be more creative in your pairings) and do something just the two of you. Next time swap kids. The goal is for each kid to get one on one time with each parent at least a few times a year.
My sister said her new word is "intentional". I think that says it perfectly. Be intentional in spending time with your kids. Take away the distractions, clear your mind, be present and be intentional.