Written by: Isabelle Lessard
How would you describe your quality time with family? Sure, watching a movie together snuggled on the couch is relaxing. But for me, quality time means interacting. It’s through interactions that we can get to know each other, become closer, and grow together. So, here are 6 ideas to encourage family interactions, some of which are as amusing as they are useful.
A lot of us take tons of pictures only to forget about them until the next cell phone clean up. Why not dedicate an afternoon to look at photos with your family? Personally, my family and I create a folder for the year, then a subfolder with the best family clichés. Yes, it takes a while, but it’s absolutely worth it to look back on happy memories. I print out the pictures we liked the most using a pharmacy’s or large retail store’s website, and I make an album. There you have it: a tangible legacy that will be rediscovered later on with much enjoyment!
Board games have a slew of benefits for families. In addition to being unifying and amusing, they gently lead the youngest to tame rules, to learn patience and to develop their sportsmanship and strategic sense. As an extra perk, many board games are affordable. Grandparents are also an excellent source to learn card games―you’d be surprised at how many there are! Lastly, several public libraries have board games you can sign out, giving you the opportunity to discover new games and take these for a test drive with your family before you make the purchase.
Personally, I think that books have even more benefits than board games. Even if reading is a solo activity, you can make it fun through family time. For example, you can talk about it over dinner! Everyone talks about the best book they read, its story and characters, without, of course, spoiling the end! You can even invite friends and other members of your family for more variety. Or you could look up the bestseller lists to discover new books.
You don’t have to come up with an incredible meal! Cook when you’re not in a hurry, so there isn’t any pressure. Expect to clean accidents and waste a couple of ingredients. There are so many recipes to choose from, but start with something easy, like cookies, muffins, a meatloaf or vegetable soup. Maybe your child will discover a new passion… and you could buy them a nice recipe book for kids (many great ones exist) as a Christmas gift! It will help them improve a useful skill!
Take a few minutes to organize “home Olympics” for your kids! Make an obstacle course in the backyard or create a series of different challenges: dribbling with a basketball ball, walking on a piece of wood without losing balance, juggling a tennis ball with a racket, etc. Use your imagination! It’s also possible to transfer these activities indoors in case of adverse weather. For inspiration, try to remember the games you used to play at recess when you were young. And if you have teenagers, why not challenge them to how many kilometres they can jog? Encourage them to practise and they might beat their own personal records! This is certainly a good way to build self-confidence.
How can you make learning a new chore fun for your children? The problem is we often tend to impose our own ways. A little more freedom might help! Try to say things like: “On Saturday I will teach you something new to do around the house, and you choose what it will be!” You can suggest activities appropriate for their age. Cleaning the bath tub can be quite fun because they have to use the shower head. Learning how to use the washing machine can be intriguing the first time. For a teenager, mowing the lawn on their own can be quite rewarding. The simple fact that they can choose the task themselves makes it much more enjoyable and interesting. And I believe that teaching useful skills, if done patiently, is a great way to spend quality time with loved ones.