These days, families are being pulled in so many directions with work, school (or summer camp) and extracurricular activities; sometimes spending quality family time together gets put on a back burner. Here are ten fun, healthy activities to bring the family together!
1. When your family is sitting around the table for dinner, play a game called “Days starting with ____" One of the children or the child in the family starts and fills in the blank with one of the family members at the table. That person then tells about their day from beginning to end with all the highlights in between. When they are done, they select another member of the family to tell about their day, until everyone has had a turn. It’s a great way for a family to maintain a connection and something that everyone can look forward to.
2. Judge new, rarely- or never-before-tasted foods (fruits, vegetables, healthy recipes, other healthy foods) by choosing 3 similar types of food and have family members rank them 1 for the best, 2 for good, and 3 for not as good. Count up all of the points for each food. The food with the most points is now the new “Food Idol” in your home for the week.
3. Choose a theme for hiking/walking. Collect pictures of leaves, identify birds or create a treasure map. Capture pictures of the family on a hike/walk; write down thoughts and stories from the hike/walk.
4. Develop a list of all the wildlife (animals) you may see in your community. Go for a walk as a family and see if you can find your list of wildlife near your home or on a family hike.
5. Deem Sundays, “No-Electronic Sundays.” No screen time-for anyone! Instead spend the day playing games, putting together a puzzle or reading books aloud.
6. For fun ask “where's dinner” meaning where shall we eat tonight? It could be on the porch or the patio, on the stairs or the family room floor as if an indoor picnic. Consideration of what types of food to be served is important. With chairs and blankets make a tent and pretend you are far far away and describe what it's like where you are and what "foods" you're having there. Ask questions like is it sandy, hot or cold, any animals lurking around?
7. Connect as a family early in the weekend try a fun Saturday in the park routine...pack a picnic breakfast (healthy food only!) and together as a family walk or ride bikes to the local park...at the park play, eat breakfast and enjoy this special time together...the park is usually not very busy early in the morning which adds to the fun! It is a great way to spend time together before busy weekend schedules and chores begin.
8. Decide as a family the number of vegetable servings everyone will have every day. The recommended amount varies depending on the organization. According to www.mypyramid.gov the range from children up to adult men is 1 ½ - 3 cups a day. Use this range as a guideline to determine your family's Veggie Challenge goal. This challenge will take menu planning, grocery store planning, and family time to help everyone achieve the goal of eating more veggies. This may mean having veggies at breakfast!
• Omelet with peppers and onions
• Tomato and cheese on whole wheat toast
• Egg and veggie burrito (tomato, salsa, peppers, onions, squash)
• ¾ cup of low-sodium vegetable juice
• Whole wheat bagel with low-fat cream cheese and cucumbers/tomatoes
9. Camp out in the backyard. You may not be able to take off out of town to go camping, but setting up the tents and telling scary stories around the campfire can be just as fun in the backyard. Put raw veggies, natural meat (if desired) and seasonings in recycled tin foil and cook it in the fire for a delicious dinner.
10. As a family, choose a cause that you all care about and spend the day together volunteering at a local charity.