“Hey guys, we’re going to go downtown to the park and grab a bite to eat. And then we’re going to pop into the museum for an art exhibit.” It didn’t go over too well. It was a Friday evening and the kids were tired from school. Their family activity ideas included a movie, pizza, and sitting on the couch. “Mom! The museum will be boring! Those are the kinds of paintings only 100-year-olds have in their houses!” Extremely fortunate hundred-year-olds, I wanted to say.
My husband pulled me aside. “You know, maybe we should just let them skip it and you and I can go,” he said. But we forged ahead, and it worked out great. The children actually enjoyed the experience. We moved through the exhibit at a child’s pace—quickly. And we finished it off with gelato in the museum café and an hour outside playing in the park. Sometimes, you just gotta force talk your kids into what’s good for them. Here are 4 family activity ideas you should make your kids do.
1. A Cultural Adventure
The key here is to make your cultural outing an adventure. So if you’re taking your children to a museum, make the gift shop sound like the most exciting place on earth. If it’s a night at the symphony, take them for ice cream after. Prepare them for what they’re going to see by talking about it on the way with enthusiasm. They might roll their eyes, but when all is said and done, they’ll walk away with memories and maybe a new appreciation for art, music, or dance.
2. Neighborhood Outreach
We have some great elderly neighbors. They love my children, and they love it when we bring them little treats. So, every once in a while, I tell the kids we’re going to deliver goodies as a family. “Mom, can’t you take the stuff?” Nope. We all walk over. I let them knock on the door and present the treats. Afterward, we do something else together like walk to the coffee shop or go for a bike ride. Interacting with neighbors and serving one another is an easy family activity idea that will build a ton of character in your kids.
3. Electronics-Free Road Trip
This family activity idea might be less appealing to you than to your children! But the next time you hop in the car for a road trip, forgo the electronics—for at least part of the time. To prepare for this activity, pack some old-school car games (here are 10 road trip games to get you started), and make it family time by having Dad play too. Shoot for just half an hour.
Think your kids could make it even longer without their electronics? Here’s how to have a NOEL Day (No Electronics Day).
4. Game Zone
My kids really do like to play board games, but when I bring up the idea, they moan and groan. Once we get going, we all have fun. So plan a game night where everyone gets to choose their favorite games. Play an abbreviated version of each. Have some food favorites and make your finale a video game competition. Keep the mood light with some riddles.
The point of all of these ideas isn’t to make our kids miserable; it’s to engage them and to expose them to situations and ideas that are good for them. So even if they say “no way,” press on! And as a bonus, here are 20 Ideas for a Family Fun Night.
What family activities do you make your kids do?