Busy, busy, busy! Our lives seem to be non-stop with everyone in the family going in different directions with work, school and activity schedules. Having some designated time for the family is important for bonding and reconnecting. For those with food allergies, making this time a non-food event is also important. Make it a priority, plan it out, turn it OFF (TV, computer and video games) and make it fun. Following are some ideas and resources to help you get started.
If there’s one thing that everyone in the family can do at the table that doesn’t involve food, it’s games! Designate a weekly family game night and make it a priority to get everyone involved. Rotate which family member gets to choose which game to play each week. You’ll be amazed how much family bonding can be achieved over a spirited board or card game!
This can be an exciting and rewarding activity, independent of the weather. What a great sense of fulfillment when kids can see seeds sprout or a flower bloom. This can be as simple as a few potted plants, a rock garden, a mini-themed garden or a terrarium. Below are some sites to check for further inspiration:
- http://www.gardenguides.com/100711-indoor-gardening-ideas-children.html - Simple and fun ideas for all ages.
- http://www.modernparentsmessykids.com/2014/03/diy-terrariums-kids-earth-day-project.html - Teaching kids about planting.
- https://minigardener.wordpress.com/category/indoor-mini-gardens/ - Creative inspirations!
Family Fitness Night
What a great way to get kids moving and put a positive spin on physical activity. These can be held at home, around the neighborhood or at a local community center.
- Home Fitness: When watching TV, turn commercial breaks into fitness breaks with simple moves like jumping jacks, marching, running in place or crunches. Create fun names to correspond to these and take turns with family members being the fitness break coach. Consider buying some small pieces of equipment to keep around the house (resistance bands, stability balls, yoga mats). Plan places to put these around the house and use them for a few minutes every day. Incorporating yoga or daily stretches is a good way to relieve stress and can protect from injury later in life.
- Make chores fun: Turn on some tunes and dance and sing along. Consider making a SPECIAL playlist of chore songs with everyone contributing their favorite. Perhaps a chore + exercise combo. Clean the bathroom and do a set of squats every few minutes.
- Sports Night: Weather is no issue for this! Inside, try aerobic DVDs or fitness video games that are age- and space-appropriate. Outside, consider the backyard or nearby park for Frisbee, basketball, jumping rope, or other outdoor games. Check out a close-by playground with the whole family. Consider recreation centers for swimming, rollerblading, or ice skating.
Need some more ideas? These sites have ideas for various activity types, durations and intensities.
- http://www.familycircle.com/health/fitness/workout-routines/15-minute-workout/ - Wii-inspired exercise program to get everyone moving.
- http://fitfamilytogether.com/100-fun-activities-for-family-fitness - Inspiration for strong bodies and even stronger family bonds.
- http://www.active.com/fitness/articles/family-fitness-tips - Learn to make fitness a family affair and enjoy benefits of a healthier, happy, home.
Volunteering as a family enhances values such as kindness, compassion and tolerance. Family members can learn new skills and feel appreciated for their contributions. Opportunities abound and need not be limited to holiday times or associated with food. Consider your time commitment ability: one time or ongoing? Consider your interests, the ages of your children and perhaps whether you want to do this as a single family unit or joining with another family or even an organization. A helping hand might be needed in your own neighborhood, your community, or for distant places too. It’s important to explain to your children your volunteer activity purpose and what to expect.
These sites offer more guidance in volunteering and opportunities for families.
- http://www-tc.pbskids.org/zoom/grownups/action/pdfs/volunteer_guide.pdf - Guidelines on how to get started, choosing projects and reflecting and assessing your time and efforts.
- http://www.parents.com/parenting/better-parenting/style/volunteer-with-your-kids/ - Provides a variety of ideas and volunteer information sites.
- http://www.generationon.org/parents/resources/family-volunteer-guide/perspectives - Offers suggestion for projects, programs and resources.
Family time is important and rewarding. What kind of food allergy-friendly family night activities does your family engage in?
-Jody L. Benitz, MS, RDN
Image from familytravelck