Tell me if this sounds a little too true for your family—the younger kids are glued to the television, teens are texting on their phones or chatting on the computer, dad is taking a business call, and there’s mom surfing the net. This is a picture of a family living separate lives and it is a disaster in the making. Don’t be fooled. Just because the vast majority of families live this way DOES NOT make it right. Families were meant to grow together and one way to ensure that unity is to make fun a family event.
1. Immunize yourself against Screen Disease. It’s running rampant these days and it’s more threatening than any flu virus you could come across. It’s screen disease! The screen—whether it’s television, video games, or computers—is destroying families. The symptoms are so innocuous that one hardly notices that it is slowing and surely sapping the life out of the family. The screen is tempting. There are always e-mail to check or a great show to watch. But be careful that it doesn’t wreak havoc on your family (and, Mama, trust me—it will!). Immunize your family against Screen Disease by limiting your time spent on screens. It’s just like a budget—if you don’t control your money, it will destroy you. If you don’t control your screen time, it will destroy your family. When you set a limit, stick to it!
- Give the kids the power of choice. Kids don’t want to always go along with your idea of fun. That’s okay. If it were up to me, we would play Scattergories every weekend. But we’re a family, so everyone gets a choice. Allowing the kids to choose is a sure way to entice family members to fellowship together. The kids get to pick out some yummy family meals and take turns choosing which games to play on family night. It could be a card game one weekend, charades the next. Whatever it is, just make sure the entire family is on board and that everyone gets to pick a winner.
3.Get out and about. Getting out of the house is a great way to switch up the fun factor with the family. There’s no need to spend the big bucks on a fancy meal or a trip to the amusement park. Getting out can be as simple as going for ice cream or a picnic in the park, or even going out for a weekend morning excursion. You can take lunch in the car (Smucker’s Uncrustables are great to take on the run because they are portable and convenient). There are lots of budget-friendly ways to have fun as a family. Check out what’s going on with your local parks and recreation organization. There may be some awesome nature hikes less than ten miles from your house. There may also be some great free concerts that are being held this weekend! Find out what’s going on in your community and get involved.
4.Go with the flow. Some families just have a natural bent toward a talent or hobby. It’s part of the familial DNA. My brother’s family loves to read together. I have a friend whose family loves to go sailing on the weekends. My sister and her kids enjoy taking road trips and discover new dives. Maybe your family has a passion that you share. If you do, then indulge! If you don’t, then maybe you can discover something that everyone enjoys. Have a family meeting and talk about some new hobbies that you may want to try out as a family. It’s important to keep in mind that everyone should feel welcome to throw out suggestions no matter how strange and exotic. Swimming with the sharks may sound a bit “out there,” but don’t knock it ‘til you try it.
- Make the time and take the time.Having fun with your family is one of those things that sounds good until you actually try to execute it and run across roadblock after roadblock. Family fellowship will not happen unless you make it happen. You’ve got to schedule that time and then guard it with your life. Each member (including the parents) needs to understand the importance of family time and make that commitment and, more importantly, stick to that commitment. Yes, it will be inconvenient. Yes, it will be difficult at times. But it will always be worth it.