#1: Surprise Family Dates
We started this one a few years ago. I'm not sure where the idea came from, probably from a Family Fun magazine since that's where I get most of my good ideas! But the gist is you come up with a fun outing for your family and only tell the kids you're going on a Surprise Family Date. Then you hop in the car and go. They can ask yes or no questions, like the game 20 Questions, to try and discover what your destination is. The kids love this and get very excited. We've taken them to the movies, hiking, for a cookout or simply to the park.
#2: Dinner Games
Some of our favorite games to play at dinner are Two Truths and a Lie about our day. This is pretty self-explanatory, but just in case you haven't played it before. Each person comes up with two truths about their day, two things that happened and then one lie. This is really fun to play with the kids and I love seeing what they come up with. Although, one word of caution...you are teaching them how to lie well by playing it!
Another game we like is where each person reports their Best, Funniest and Worst moments of the day. This is something we heard about from some friends of ours and the kids really open up when they share.
One other option is to have a jar of questions to answer. There are loads of ideas for these floating around the web. HERE'S a good example of one. These start conversations with your kids and spouse that you probably wouldn't ever have otherwise.
#3: Game Night
Something we started years ago was to have game nights on Sunday. But instead of us parents choosing what we play, we take turns being in charge of the game night. So, sometimes we play Hide 'n' Seek because that is what our two-year old loves to play. Or like last night, we play Pit because that is my husband's favorite game.
#4: A Day Off
Our kids love it when we have a day off. And I'm not just talking about not doing chores and sitting around in your jammies all day, although you can do that, too! When we have a day off, we divide the day up between the family and give each member an hour or maybe a half an hour each, depending on how the day looks, and then each person gets to choose what the family will do for that amount of time. We've made and flown paper airplanes, played with Barbies together (even the boys played...they sure must love their sisters! But they did fight over who got the Ken dolls), watched cartoons and built Lego creations. The kids really love this! (I think this one came from a Family Fun years ago, too!)
#5: Family Dinner Parties
It's fun to have dinner together, but it's even more fun to make it a party! When my youngest son was learning his colors, we'd have color-themed dinner parties. He'd help me make invitations for each member of the family asking them to come dressed in that color. And then we'd serve that color food. That was really fun. And you'd be surprised how much the kids get into it! We've also had culture-themed dinner parties and made chinese food or mexican food, complete with decorations.
Recently we had a baby-themed dinner to announce baby #6. I gave everyone invitations which said there was a Secret Theme and a Special Guest (the baby) would be there. I served baby-related food, like baby carrots, baby pickles, baby corn and baby pizzas. My oldest caught on right away! And the kids were so happy. It was the best.
Now....go and have fun! And if you try any of these ideas, I'd love to hear about it.