As we are now officially in the summer season, it can be very easy to overschedule our children and ourselves. This is especially true this year as COVID restrictions begin to lift and more events are becoming available again. Enjoyable but exhausting family vacations, summer sports leagues, day and overnight camps, 4-H fairs, library and park recreation programs, and the list goes on and on. It is very possible to overcommit family members to the point where they do not get to relax, recharge and really enjoy spending time with each other before another busy school year begins.
So slow down the pace and plan for a “family night in”, which is doing something together at home that everyone in the family can enjoy. It doesn’t have to be a major event and the main rule is that everyone in the family gets to participate and have fun. Some suggestions for a summer “family night in” include:
- A backyard campout. Roast hot dogs and marshmallows over a campfire or barbecue grill, sing campfire songs and sleep in a tent in the backyard.
- An indoor campout. Select one room for your “camp” and bring your sleeping bags or blankets and pillows. Turn off the lights and TV and use your flashlights to make shadow pictures on the walls. Include storytelling, but don’t make it too spooky. The idea is to have fun, not cause nightmares.
- A road map folding contest. Open a road map completely and smooth it out so the creases aren’t too visible. Have family members fold the map while another times them. How long does it take each family member to refold the map as it was originally?
- A “swap” picnic. Let each family member pack a basket, box or bag with a picnic meal for one person. When everyone arrives at the picnic site, each person picks a basket—not their own! There are surprises waiting for everyone.
- Active games like freeze tag or hide and seek. Kids will love having adults play also.
- A concert. A guitar, harmonica or other musical instruments can provide the music, or make your own instruments. Create a band by playing the spoons, blowing on a bottle, tapping on cans or strumming rubber bands across a box lid.
- An earthworm hunt in your yard. Take your flashlights out on a warm night after a rain and see if you can find any earthworms.
There are so many things for a family to do that are fun, inexpensive and simple. So turn off the TV, computer, or phone, turn down the invitation to another event outside the home, and tune in to sharing an enjoyable evening relaxing as a family.
Source: Family Night In: Summer Arrives. University of Illinois Extension