Thursday, April 11, 2013

Parenting with a Purpose: A Family that Plays together, Stays together

Welcome to day 5 of my Parenting with a Purpose series (click the link to read all the posts in the series)!

One of our purposes as parents is to create a place that is safe and fun, where everyone can enjoy each other.  Each family member should feel special and that they are serving a purpose.  Involving our kids in chores, decision making and activities are all ways we can promote harmony and make each person feel accepted, needed and important.  "How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony!" Psalm 133:1 Today, I wanted to share a few ideas that our family does to include everyone and promote unity.

1) Movie Night.  This is my favorite night of the week, and my friend Holly inspired me on this. Every Friday we go to the movie store, or red box, and pick out a kid movie for the whole family to watch.  We usually do a fun dinner, pizza or burgers and quickly retreat to the living room to snuggle on the couch with bowls of crunchy popcorn.  We laugh together, cuddle and make sweet memories.  How can you involve the kids further on movie night?

*Take turns having a kid of the week.  When it is "their" movie night they pick out the movie, favorite meal and desert.  It is their special night.  My friend Holly even has an overstuffed bear and the kid of the week gets to watch the movie on the bear-love it!!

2) Cooking/ Baking together.  Kids love to help, and when you are in the kitchen creating something delicious, lets face it they are intrigued and want to be in there with you.  I say just embrace it!  I know it may take bit longer to prep and make your meal or treat, but you are making special moments to be remembered and teaching them skills they will use for the rest of their lives.  Plus, if you take the time to teach them now, all your hard work will shortly pay off, my 8 year old niece Emilia is already making chocolate chip cookies for her family, and they are seriously the best I have ever had!  So when you can, include them.

*Make it fun by getting each child their own apron, they have cool boy ones now too!
*To make it less stressful on you, pre measure the ingredients.
*Let them decide what treat to make.

3) Family Recreation. Finding an activity the whole family can participate in is a great way to encourage unity.  For family recreation in warm weather our favorite choice is biking.  What I love about it is we can include the smallest family member to the oldest and a lot of vacation spots have places to bike.  We like to ride into town for ice cream or snacks at our cute down town grocery, our kids still talk about doing that from last summer.  We bike to friends houses, local parks and down dirt roads & bike paths.  We invested in a good baby carrier seat that attaches to an adult bike, and we purchased a tandem, pull behind bike (has one wheel, seat, handle bars and pedals.). You can also get a pull behind trailer that seats one or two kiddos.  All of our biking accessories we have purchased from garage sales, Salvation Army or Craigslist.  Other family oriented activities:

*Golfing, this can be putt-putt, 18 holes on a course, or just hitting gals in the back yard, lots of fun.
*Skiing, ice skating, sledding, snowman building, making snow forts, snow ball fights.
*Hiking parks and nature trails.  My husband has been known to pull over randomly and lead us into a nature preserve un-announced, lots of fun!
*Family walks around the neighborhood
*Picnics at the park, I still remember doing this with my mom and dad, always creates a lasting impact.
*Yard games: Ladder ball, beanbag toss, kanjam, horseshoes, volleyball, bad mitten, birdie golf, croquet (These are good gifts to ask for at birthdays and Christmas)
*Water games, swimming, water balloon fights, squirt gun wars, slip n slide.
*Disc golfing or just throwing a frisbee around.
*Bonfire night-hotdogs & s'mores and don't forget to tell stories!
*Board games, or Disney Scene-It

4) Let them make a decision.  Sometimes it is just fun to let your children decide something.  They feel important and that their opinions matter, so every once in a while, we let them pick where we go out to eat.  It usually ends up being McDonalds or Culvers!  Another decision making idea I got from my sister in law Heidi, she will take her children Christmas shopping with her and let them pick out the toys for their cousins.  I love that!

5) Take your children on dates.  We do this every other month.  I will take one child out with me to do something special, maybe it is a movie or ice cream, we have even gone to the coffee shop and honestly, sometimes it is just errands.  They love the one on one attention so whenever you can get away with just one to make them feel unique, it is helpful.

I hope you are inspired to try something new and are encouraged to incorporate activities and ideas into your home that will encourage bonding in love as a family and make each member feel significant.

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