A family that plays together, stays together, isn’t just a cute statement. Sure, game playing is fun and entertaining for a family, but more importantly, it is the idea of playing together. According to Jim Burns, a contributing writer with CBN, “Playing together is an essential trait of happy, healthy families. Certainly, our children need to do their chores, and of course they need discipline with consistency, but what they also need desperately from their parents is a rousing game of hide-and-seek or a monthly Ping-Pong tournament.”
With our fragmented society, where parents rush to work and children off to school, we need to purposely plan play dates with our own children. And furthermore, do this on a regular, consistent basis. When schedules are tight, family members exhausted, and the world continually distracts us from authentic interaction with each other, playing brings us back together. Here are some practical ideas to help incorporate play into the life of your family:
*Plan a game night on a regular basis. Keep it simple, nothing fancy that takes extensive
planning. Just clear off the kitchen table and pull your favorite game out of the closet.
*Play a sport together as a family. Again, nothing fancy, could be just tossing the football around in the yard, taking a bike ride together, or taking a walk.
*Turn off the TV and other electronic devices and replace with activities that create face to face time. Suggestions are board games or puzzles.
*Play doesn’t have to be sports or table top games though, instead choose play options such as coloring, blowing bubbles, digging in the sand, origami, painting, drawing, scrapbooking, sculpting, listening to music, flying a kite, or other creative outlets.
*Choose age appropriate interactions so that all family members participate. For example, playing Risk or Stratego may be great for your young teen, but out of the picture for a toddler.
*Visit a game café or game escape room together as a family for an occasional special outing.
*On the other hand, swap board games with another family now and then, so that you can play new games without breaking the bank.
*Take lessons for a new family experience such as dancing, boating, skiing, biking, cooking, or another area of interest.
*Check out some neighborhood parks, playgrounds, hiking trails, picnic areas, historical sites, and the like.
*Simple free activities are all around: geocaching, walking trails, attending neighborhood festivals, observing the night sky, camping in your back yard, and more.
*Return to some oldies but goodies: croquet, badminton, horseshoes, jacks, hopscotch, frisbee, yo-yo, freeze tag, kick-the-can, pickle in the middle, and the like.
*Make a homemade family scavenger hunt.
Again, it’s not necessarily the activity that you choose for play, but rather focus on being
together, often, and on a regular basis. Soon, play becomes part of the culture of your family, rather than your family becoming the culture. Set the trend!