My Child Has... Article

My Child Has...

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Family Time


Spending quality time as a family is important not only when children are young but also as they get older. Busy schedules of work, school, and extracurricular activities can make shared time a real challenge for families.

Quality family time generally does not happen all by itself. A certain amount of planning needs to go into bringing family members together. Some of the following suggestions may appeal to you and your family. Think about some physical activities that you can do as a family, such as:

  • playing volleyball or football at the park
  • swimming at the community pool
  • flying kites
  • riding bikes, rollerskating, or going horseback riding as a family
  • washing and waxing the family car
  • walking in the neighborhood or hiking as a family

Have your family think of ideas for weekend outings, fun activities, or projects that the family could do together. Spend about 10 minutes listing the first things that pop into people's heads.

Ask family members to list or name 5 things they enjoy doing together as a family and 5 new family activities they would like to do in the future.

Some ideas to get you started:

  • Have dinner together and take turns talking about each other's day. If you can't have dinner together, find a time to gather each day to talk and listen.
  • Read a book together as a family. Ask questions or ask children to change the story or make up a new story.
  • Play board games or card games together. Games help children learn how to win and lose, and how to take turns and be patient. Laugh and encourage each other.
  • Start family traditions. For example, make a holiday ornament every year with the year's events on it, have a family game night every Friday night, or make chili every Halloween.
  • Plant a tree each time there is a birth, graduation, or family achievement.
  • Go on a field trip together. Places to visit might include a working farm, farmer's market, bakery, museums, zoo, puppet show, radio or television station, post office, newspaper plant, water treatment facility, or the state capital.
  • Divide into teams (such as father-daughter or mother-son) and have each team take turns planning a monthly "mystery trip" or "mystery activity".
  • Start a family scrapbook with pictures and souvenirs from family outings and vacations.
  • Show community spirit by recycling old newspapers, bottles, cans, clothing, books, and furniture to appropriate centers.
  • Plan one-on-one activities such as meals, bike rides, or movies with each child. Spend some time each day paying attention to each child.
  • Record an interview with a grandparent. Possible questions:
    • What did you like to do when you were my age?
    • Where did you live as a child?
    • How many brothers and sisters did you have?
    • How did you and grandma/grandpa meet?
    • What do you like to do now?
    • What do you like about your house and neighborhood?
  • Make family placemats by drawing or writing something special about each family member. Cover with clear contact paper.
  • Make homemade cards. Make birthday, get-well, thank-you, valentine, or friendship cards by drawing, stamping, or cutting out pictures. Write a personalized message. (Have your child dictate a message if he or she cannot yet write.)
  • Create a family newspaper with headlines, artwork, photos, and stories about recent family events. Send to grandparents and other selected relatives.
  • Prepare foods as a family, such as bread, pasta, ice cream, or holiday cookies.
  • Plan a monthly "ethnic festival." Select a cuisine and appropriate decorations, music, stories, or costumes. Write out menus with translations and save in a family scrapbook. Work on crafts from that country.
  • Make sure the adults in the family spend time together without the children. You need to be able to care for yourselves to be able to take care of your children.

Written by Donna Warner Manczak, PhD, MPH.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2011-02-10
Last reviewed: 2010-06-16

This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a health care professional.

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