While we all have our differences, I think we can all agree that less screen time is always a positive. No matter where you family falls on the spectrum of screen usage, I thought it would be nice to just give ourselves a reminder of easy ways to connect as a family. So many of you agreed that playing games tops the list and I am sharing readers’ favorite games, too. Here are 20 screen-free family activities to put the focus back on one another.
First and foremost, these aren’t fancy or elaborate. I wanted to share ideas that won’t cost extra money or that don’t require a ton of planning.
I also think it’s really powerful to physically put the phones in a screen-free zone. There is something about not having them in the back pocket or next to our hips that is much more freeing and breaks the habit. Let’s get to the list.
Bake and surprise neighbors with sweets at their door.
Baking gets the whole family together in the kitchen. Keep it super simple with cookies or these yummy chocolate chip salted caramel bars (amazing!).
Write a story.
Get the creative juices flowing. Let the youngest member of the family pick a character and topic. Then take turns adding to the story. There aren’t any rules here. Just let the imagination take over and enjoy the process. You can even illustrate the story. Everyone contributes a picture.
Make crazy socks.
This was one of our most memorable activities when the children were younger. We took old white socks we found in our drawers (or you can pick up at the store) and pulled out makers, ribbon, stickers, etc. Everyone sat on the floor and decorated their socks. The kids though it was hilarious and loved that dad wore his crazy socks around the house. It’s not about the outcome, it’s about the time together being creative.
Play games together. Each family member chooses one.
Our DIY to-do list has corn hole on it. We can’t wait to make a set for our backyard. Whether you play outside or gather around a board game, there is no better way to connect with the kids. Many of my readers have shared games they love so here is a tried and true list to get you started.
We absolutely love Exploding Kittens. It’s hilarious. It’s one that doesn’t make sense at first, but when it clicks it’s awesome. Another game we love is Codenames. Just recently we rediscovered the oldie but goodie, Scrabble.
Sit on the floor and finger paint.
No matter how old you are, finger painting is so much fun. Sounds nuts until you are actually doing it.
Build a giant fort. Play cards inside of it.
When parents get involved with fort making it takes it to a whole new level and kids love it. Grab sheets an blankets and build away. Then climb inside and play cards or read together. Especially fun on a rainy day.
Put on pajamas much too early and make pancakes!
Everyone loves breakfast for dinner. But put on the jammies as early as possible and make it a family event. These pancakes won’t fail you. So good!!!
Babysit for a friend in need and enjoy being creative.
Do you know a single mom who could use a break? Or maybe your dear friends could just use a night out on the town. Offer to babysit free of charge and make it fun for the whole family. My children LOVE entertaining little ones. When you get the whole family involved it’s a really fun way to spend some time and everybody wins.
Lip Sync Night!
Can’t sing? Perfect! Time to lip sync. We have done this with our extended family and it’s beyond fun. And funny! Always a night to remember. Make an appetizer or two and get your lip sync on.
Cook dinner together.
This super easy chicken noodle soup recipe is a crowd pleaser and won’t take all day. Get the entire gang involved with prepping and chopping.
Write letter to friends or relatives.
A lost art. There is still nothing better than getting a bit of snail mail, am I right? So why not be the one to send it. Plus I think it’s really important for children to be able to handwrite a proper note. And it doesn’t have to be anyone’s birthday . . .just pick someone you love and brighten their day.
Ride bikes. Pack a backpack with lunch. A picnic awaits.
Nice weather? Hop on the bikes and go be outside. Take a simple lunch and happen upon a spot that looks inviting. No set plans needed. Make it an adventure.
Start a flag football game. Get neighbors involved.
Find an open space and toss a ball around. Just getting exercise together in a fun way is transformative for the family. Let the neighbors join in. It’s valuable for children to feel a sense of community.
Research shows that the best predictor of how well and often a child reads is directly related to how much they see their parents reading. So have everyone grab a book and curl up with blankets. While you won’t be interacting it’s nice to get lost in a book and enjoy screen-free time together.
Create a family obstacle course.
So. Much. Fun. I will be the first to admit that I had a major wipe out the last time we did this so be sure to keep the challenges safe. A balance beam situation wasn’t really my strong suit. But this is so much fun. Don’t let my lack of athleticism scare you away from this! It can be as simple as stacking cushions to hop over, running to the mailbox and back, tossing a ball into a hoop, etc. You get the idea. The fun is also in the planning. Kids love dreaming up the course.
Make s’mores around the fire (or stove).
Sweet treats and family. That it’s enough for me!
Wash the cars. Crank up the music.
Another lost art. Turn up the tunes and get the whole family involved with washing the car. The fun is in the process and accomplishing something together. I have vivid memories of washing our cars with my dad on the weekends.
Go through old photo albums and tell stories.
Another reason to get those photos printed or make albums through Shutterfly or some other source. Pull out those albums and gather together on the sofa. Not only is it fun to look back but it instantly becomes the best story time ever. The kids don’t always remember the younger years (cue the tears) so they love to hear about it from your point of view.
Take an after dinner stroll.
Simple enough. Some of our best conversations happen on our walks.
I hope more than anything, this list gets you thinking about easy ways to amp up the family time. In a world where screens have really taken over, I think we all have to be more intentional about how we spend our time. Feel free to use the comment section to add to this list. Would be wonderful to keep the ideas coming.
Enjoy your day!