With a break from school, parents everywhere are feeling relief. They don’t have to worry about their kids getting up for school or completing their homework. But, in a year where there has been “lots of together time,” your tank may be running on empty. What are we going to do now? How can we make the most of our family time during this break—which really doesn’t feel like a vacation?
Luckily, Sheryl Gould, parent educator and founder of Moms of Tweens and Teens, has taken over as cruise director. She shares some fun things to do together as a family.
No matter what you choose to do, Gould says the key to quality family time is to be both inviting and persistent. Approach family time in a playful way that encourages teens to want to join you. The goal is to be together, so that also means that parents may need to be flexible. “Let your kids lead,” Gould advises. “Ask them ‘What would be fun for you?’”
Keep in mind that our teens don’t want to spend every minute with their parents. No matter what, Gould cautions, don’t force your teens to do everything with you. If you do, then everyone will be miserable. By giving them permission not to join you one afternoon, you will get buy in another time.
Ideas for Family Time
1. Watch a movie or a show together
Tailor selections to the personalities of your family. Gould shares that many families have bonded over watching a series from start to finish. The conversation moves from the couch to the dinner table, and the characters become part of the family.
- Harry Potter
- Star Wars
- Lord of the Rings
- Schitt’s Creek
- The Goldbergs
- The Amazing Race
2. Craft together
While teens may be reluctant at first, don’t let that stop you from encouraging them to indulge in some craft projects during family time. Once again, let your teens take the lead in the project as well as their approach to it.
- The Michael’s website has great ideas
- A family photo shoot
- Make a collage together (here’s where your teen’s digital skills may kick in)
- Create vision boards
- Share your favorite photo of the day
3. Play games together
There’s nothing like a good game to make family time fun. And there are so many great options.
- Apples to Apples
- Code Names
4. Bake together
Gould shares that her family never cooked together before, but now they’re really enjoying it. It’s easy to get kids involved by choosing recipes that they love to eat. The best way to start? Ask your teen what they want to make.
- Search online for recipes
- Take a cooking class
- Make old family recipes. It’s a wonderful way to remember loved ones and to pass on traditions
- Have a meal when everyone prepares one dish
5. Go outdoors together
For those who live in colder climates, winter may be the time when you hole up indoors. But remember: there is no bad weather if you have the appropriate clothing. And getting out of the house is not only invigorating but also makes everyone feel better
- Make plans so that you are accountable
- Explore parts of your neighborhood that you’re unfamiliar with
- Hike on nature trails
- Snow shoe
- Throw it back and play some whiffle ball!
6. Pay it forward together
Research says that helping others increases our own sense of wellbeing. There are endless ways to spend family time lifting up someone else’s spirits.
- Drop off a gift on your neighbor’s porch for them. If you really want your teens to feel good, call in advance and ask your neighbor to take a picture of their kids’ reaction to this surprise present from Santa.
- Pay for the person behind you. One mom shared, “We went to a Festival of Lights and paid for the five people behind us.”
- Prepare food and deliver to the homeless
7. Do anything together!
Enjoying family time is possible, especially our teens are also invested in spending time together. When you get creative and come up with ideas that appeal to your teens’ interests, that’s when the magic happens.
- Take a virtual tour of a place you’d like to visit
- Get deep at dinner by asking what is one thing you would hold on to from the past year
- Make a time capsule to be opened at an agreed upon future date
- Have a dance party
- Watch TikTok or YouTube with your teen
- Play video games with your teen