I LOVED the insight that Kristen gives here about creating better relationships with family by bringing variety to the activities you do together.  It totally makes sense and I totally agree.  Since reading this I have been pondering how to bring more variety into the activities my family does together.  You learn so much about a person in different settings.  I have always admired Kristen’s family for their close relationships, positive outlook, contagious energy, and playful spirits.  Kristen is also incredibly talented and now I give credit to all the variety she has experienced in life.
This is how she thinks:
Both my growing-up family and my family now thrive on making sure the things we do together have a good variety. We like to do things spontaneously, like a water fight that soaks the floor, but we also like planned things, like a picnic and hiking day or a day trip somewhere. We like the variety of movies, board games, outdoor adventures, music, performances, sports, etc. I think the key to having successful family relationships is that variety in your interactions. If you always watch movies, you really don’t get to bond as well as when you do more interactive things together. However, sometimes you just need to veg together and not feel the need to discuss anything!
My husband and I have a weekly date night and try to incorporate as much variety as we can! Sometimes our date is going on a walk, once we carved a watermelon with pocket knives (messy and so fun!), once we went hunting for the best piece of cheesecake… you can make any activity fun for you and your family.
One of the fun things my family did over the summer was with my parents and my sister’s family. During the Olympic opening ceremonies we had our own competitions/olympics. We had a card tossing contest, being blindfolded and feeding your partner yogurt with a spoon taped to a ruler, eating dry crackers and trying to be the first to whistle, etc. As you can imagine it was messy, noisy, and of course none of us are competitive (right…) but it turned out really fun and it was a fun way to interact instead of just sitting and watching.
One of the other things about our family’s recreation is that sometimes you just have to go do it! If you’ve got and idea or something planned, it will turn out. Even if you get lost, or don’t know exactly what you’re doing, just plan on having a fun time with the people you’re with no matter what you’re doing. If it’s one of those days that you want to stay home and not go do anything, just remember that in a week or a month or a year, you’re not going to remember the day you stayed home, but you will remember the day you went hiking on a new trail and got lost or the day you spent hours at the park playing card games on a picnic blanket.
For example, another adventure we had this summer was with a group of about 12 couples and their young kids. IT was a gray day, but we set out to go canoe at a park anyway. We got there and it started raining! We all had picnics, so instead, we stopped at a city park on the way home, but it didn’t have a picnic area, so we went to a different city park. By the time we got there it was pouring, so we ran to the picnic shelter and had a great and humid lunch laughing with our friends that we were glad we weren’t out canoeing! The little kids ran around in the rain and LOVED it. We never went canoeing and the sun never came out, but it ended up being a great adventure that gave us time to have fun as a family and with friends. I’d do it again, even with the rain!
We are pretty new parents, but we have discovered that everyone can participate in some form of recreation. It is important to make those memories together as a family and together as a couple. We took our 3 week old baby on a walk through a park with a lot of walking paths and we loved sitting on the benches and talking for a half hour while the baby slept! That was great recreation for us. We’ve been swimming a few times as a family and it is great to be able to do it together. Getting everyone involved helps create family bonds and gives you memories to talk about and laugh about for years.
I’m a huge supporter of having fun as a family because that’s what you’ll remember most! It brings your family closer, gives you a chance to laugh together, or talk through things, or take pictures together, whatever it is.