A Family that Plays Together Stays Together

Successful marriages are established and maintained by . . . WHOLESOME RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES

This post is part of a 10-part series celebrating the 20th anniversary of The Family: A Proclamation to the World, specifically the sentence, “”Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.”

I met Kerry on a Facebook group for LDS bloggers.  I always noticed Kerry was always so kind to share everyone’s posts and give such genuine, thoughtful comments on everyone’s work, expecting nothing in return.  I’ve been so impressed with her.  I love her post on the importance of having fun together and how to make it a priority!  – Celeste

My sister often displays a crafty sign at her house during the winter season that reads, ”A family that skis together stays together.” It fits their family. Our family might insert the verbs bikes, walks, or reads. Other families would add plays, swims, camps, or a whole host of other recreational options. It’s not really what you do that’s important. What is important is that you unplug from electronics and the chores of daily life and plug in to family time.

Here are some ways our family and extended family members enjoy wholesome recreational activities together:

Pick a sport.

As I mentioned, my sister’s family enjoys skiing every year, each family member in their own way. My brother-in-law hits the daredevil slopes with the boys and one of the girls. The youngest daughter prefers the gentle slopes with her mom and the hot chocolate back at the lodge. But they all rally at the lodge for meals and spend a night together at a nearby cabin.  Dad and Mom have incredibly busy schedules, so a winter weekend night away from home with family is just what they need, and their kids will always remember this family tradition.

Work together.

Growing up, we didn’t have a ton of opportunities to play. I don’t think we even heard of the term “wholesome recreational activities” for families. We lived on a farm and we worked. But we enjoyed the work, mostly. We raised sheep and crops. There’s something to be said about working together as a family. You can’t replicate the lessons learned working side-by-side with your kids. You talk. You work. You talk some more. So don’t just assign chores. Do them together.

Be simple and improvise.

I remember one windy spring day when my dad and his friend hooked our kite up to a fishing pole. The kite’s string was fairly short, so the kite wouldn’t go up very far in the sky. But with fishing line . . . Well, it seemed we had miles of opportunity! So that kite went up and up, seemingly for forever. It was amazing! I remember that incident like it was yesterday. It was so much fun. It didn’t cost anything, just a little time and some creative ingenuity. This simple example goes to show that not every activity has to be extravagant or planned. That can be tiring, especially for Mom. Sometimes simple and impromptu is better.

Go for walks.

Fast forward to my adult years, and I now have a wonderful husband and two handsome boys. We love to enjoy family walks together. Recently, we discovered that we particularly love to take walks right after rain storms. Why? Because that’s when the snails are out. Boys and snails go together, you see. Suddenly, the walk becomes a treasure hunt, an opportunity to spot snails and squash them! While this may not exactly be considered a “wholesome” activity, it’s amazing fun! You should try it, even if you’re not a kid.

Read good books.

We love to read good stories together and follow up with related field trips. Brainstorm ideas together. Family members will be more interested if they contribute ideas. Visit the library together. Explore different book formats. Talk about the storyline together. This will help children to develop language, reading, and comprehension skills as you’re building family unity.

Cook together.

Some parents shoo their children out of the kitchen. But that’s a mistake. Cooking is a prime time to teach math concepts and a much-needed life skill. Choose a time when you’re not hurried to make a meal, and select an easy recipe that everyone would like to eat. Then take your time making it.

Grow a garden.

We recently adopted a neighbor’s peach tree and had a lot of fun picking fruit together. The true reward was when we ate the delicious peach pie, which was even yummier because we’d made it all from scratch with peaches we’d grown ourselves. Our current home doesn’t have a garden spot, but in prior years, we’ve loved gardening as a family. It’s a great way to get picky eaters to eat their veggies, and it gets the whole family outside together.

Play.

Play board games, outside games, any type of games. Our family likes a variety of traditional games, but one you may not have heard about is Blokus. It’s a simple strategy game where you try to corner your opponents by blocking their plays with your own blocks. It has few rules, which I like, is easy to learn, and a game is quick to play. You only need two players, but it’s more fun with at least three. We also really like and recommend Phase 10 and Loaded Questions.

Join memberships.

Do a little research on activities that are close to your home. This year our family has enjoyed frequent visits to a nearby amusement park. The season passes are expensive, but with the amount of times we’ve gone, it’s now an inexpensive family activity. We’ve definitely gotten our money’s worth. So if you can afford it, consider a membership to a gym, zoo, aquarium, nature center—whatever is in your city. Seasonal passes are great too. Think of summer swim parks and ski passes, for instance. An added bonus? Some memberships are reciprocal, meaning they’ll work with multiple attractions. Click here for an example.

Families do need to play together. Sometimes we forget that. During hard times, we need good memories to fall back on. So it’s important that we create them.

Family fun. It matters.

What does your family enjoy doing together? What new things would you like to try?


Kerry Smith is a former editor for the
Ensign magazine. She currently writes for MyRandomSampler.com and TheSoulSpa@Sugardoodle. She and her husband, Cole, live in Utah with their two sons.

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