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Family Fun

Adding Fun and Flexibility to Family Routines

January 2, 2018     By Boys Town Contributor

Connecting with Kids, Parent-Child Relationships, Parenting Skills, Today's Family

As any seasoned parent will tell you, routines are awesome—until they're not. 

Bedtime routines, morning routines, lunch routines, and every other ritual that's part of a family's daily life are great for guarding against mass confusion, unwanted distractions, and all-out chaos. They're also comforting. Routines offer reassurance when the inevitable doubts of a parent or fears of a child surface. More than anything, routines are what help Dad retain his sanity and Mom her serenity.

But what happens when routines become a little too routine? A little too rigid? Maybe a little too stale?

If your daily family routines have turned into a tedious rut leaving you feeling more constricted than comforted, then it may be time to shake things up, to inject a little spontaneity and whimsy. And that doesn't mean you have to ditch your routines; you just have to reimagine them.  

Spice Up Your Family Meals

Introduce theme nights, like Meatless Mondays or Stir-Fridays. The theme can involve everything from the food and table settings to the background music and dinner conversation.

Do little things that keep your kids interested in staying at the table. Use different seating assignments, put notes with special messages under your kids' dinner plates for them to find and read aloud, or have a contest to see who gets to sit at the head of the table.

Turn Up the Music With 'Manic Mondays,' 'Ruby Tuesdays,' and 'Saturday Night's All Right'

Come up with a musical theme for certain days of the week, and let family members take turns providing the soundtrack for that day. From soft background music during mealtimes to blasts of pulsating hip-hop that shakes everyone out of their morning slumber, use music to bring a new rhythm to your family life. For an added twist, sing made-up songs together.

Movie Night

Pick a night every few weeks to turn your TV room into a movie theater experience. If you're feeling really adventurous, kick it up a notch by setting up a projector outside and invite the neighbors. You can make admission tickets, eat popcorn from a box, enjoy other movie-favorite concessions, or pretend you're at a drive-in.     

Take It Outside

Instead of vegging out on the couch with multiple media screens, take a walk around the neighborhood, go for a family bike ride or add some other type of physical activity to your daily routine. You'll not only be modeling a healthy, active lifestyle for your kids, but you also will have more opportunities to connect with them in a relaxed, easygoing environment.

Volunteer

Whether you help out at a shelter, soup kitchen, or community celebration, volunteering benefits those you serve while serving as a great pick-me-up for your family's mental and physical health. Plus, working toward common goals strengthens the connections you have within your family and with others in the community. It also alleviates stress by shaking you free from mundane problems and everyday disappointments. Best of all, it's simply fun.  

Hit the Road

Sometimes it's nice just to go for a family drive with no predetermined destination or time constraints. Check out a new neighborhood, pass by the latest construction project, take in the local holiday displays, or motor down a scenic byway. Seeing new sights can be eye-opening and refreshing.

Game Nights

Find an evening that works for everyone, then set aside an hour or two for playtime. Pick a classic board game from your youth or grab a deck of cards and deal out the fun. You can also try to come up with homemade games to get your children's creative juices flowing. A night of fun is great for family bonding; just be sure to turn off your phones, tablets and computers. 

Reward Days

Celebrate your children's academic and behavioral successes. A good week at school—anything from no absences or incompletes to positive teacher reports or an A+ grade—deserves a shout-out. Rewards can include staying up to watch a favorite late-night show or inviting friends for a sleepover.   

When it comes to livening up daily routines, the possibilities are limitless. By introducing some or all of these ideas into your home, you can add a little fun to the day and avoid letting your routines run you into a rut. And, everyone still meets their responsibilities, just in a way that makes connecting with one another much more meaningful and enjoyable.      

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