Fun Ways to Add Family Quality Time

You know you should be spending more time together as a family, but when you are together…Well, things seem to not go so smoothly. Everyone is in different rooms. Or maybe in the same room, but engrossed in their personal devices. Or everyone starts getting on each others’ nerves and you spend more time separating your kids than bonding with them and teaching them.

If you’ve gone to the trouble to clear your schedules a bit to create some intentional quality family time, taking a few extra minutes to plan can help things go more smoothly. Your family is used to entertaining themselves, doing whatever it is they personally want to do – it’s no longer necessary to negotiate the sharing of the one tv in the house.

Not having to compromise, means entertainment has become a bit selfish. What everyone else wants to do with their time is of little consequence. No wonder conflicts can erupt when suddenly a family who can usually do whatever they want for entertainment is now forced to agree on something and do it together for a period of time.

No worries though! A few well planned, fun, family activities will keep your children engaged and asking for more family time. Not everything has to be overtly religious. It’s amazing how many opportunities you will have for teaching your kids about what God wants them to do in the course of something simple like playing a board game together.

There are a million things you can do together as a family, that give you plenty of opportunities to bond, teach and model. Here are some of the things our family loved to do when our daughter was younger.

  • Family Game Night – Kids love playing board games with their parents. Library book sales and yard sales often have board games for sale for a couple of dollars. Our Five Below store even has a lot of fun games for $5 or less.
  • International Night. This was a huge hit for a variety of reasons in our house. I cooked several recipes from the “mystery” country. They were easy to find on the internet or you can buy many types of cuisine already prepared in many areas. The rest of the family tried to guess the country as we ate their most famous dishes. Often we would also listen to their music, try a few words of their language or participate in a few other things from the culture. It’s also a great way to introduce missions to your kids.
  • After dinner family walks. Recently, I was in Ukraine. It seemed like every family in my neighborhoods in two different cities went for family walks after dinner. Along the way, they were talking and playing with their children. They even continued their post dinner walks when school started.
  • Family projects. Whether it’s making a tarp into a car track for an orphanage or cleaning the garage, working together on a project is great. Often, these are things you normally do, but separately. So instead of everyone being assigned a different room to clean, for example, everyone works together on the same room.
  • Making cookies. This is a classic for a reason! What’s more fun than baking cookies together? Sugar cookies that you can also decorate are always great. They don’t have to be Christmas cookies either. After enjoying a few of your creations, take the rest to someone who could use a little cheer and company – as a family.
  • Exploring. Whether it’s geocaching or visiting a new area of town (or a new town), exploring can be a great bonding experience. Let your kids help plan the adventure for even more quality family time.
  • Picnics. Take a blanket and take-out if you don’t want to cook and hit the road. Picnics are great conversation starters. Don’t forget to take a frisbee for more family fun after you finish eating. (When the weather is bad, indoor picnics and “camping” are usually a huge hit with kids.)

So grab your kids and start spending time together. Having fun as a family is great. It strengthens family bonds and gives you chances to slip in little bits of God’s wisdom from time to time. It also gives you a chance to model godly behaviors for your kids and chances to see your kids’ hearts more clearly. Plus, you are creating wonderful memories you will all cherish for years to come.

Is Family Time Really Necessary?

If you read any book or article on parenting, the author usually suggests plenty of “family time”. Yet, millions of families around the world barely see each other and their kids seem to be turning out just fine. Or are they? Is family time really that important? And what exactly are you supposed to be doing during this mysterious “family time”?

Believe it or not, family time was part of God’s plan. Twice in Deuteronomy (11:9 and 6:7) God tells parents to spend lots of time every day teaching their children His Words. He doesn’t call it family time, but if you are teaching them at home, as you walk along the road, when you get up and when you lie down – that’s quite a bit of time interacting with your children in meaningful ways during the day.

And that is what family time is really about – creating stronger relationships with your children and teaching them directly or indirectly the things God wants them to know. In fact, that famous verse in Proverbs about training up your child in the way he should go (22:6) implies parents are actually the spiritual coaches for their children. If you have ever had a coach – especially a successful one – you know how much time and effort they put into coaching each player as well as the team.

Listing the benefits of quality family time would take an entire article. Almost every study that gauges children who are healthy and successful usually mentions family time as a contributing factor. Other studies examining risky behaviors almost always mention that young people who do not participate in risky behaviors usually have more quality family time than young people who take unhealthy risks.

Sometimes this is presented as having family meals, while often it is just mentioned in general. Regardless, family time makes a huge positive difference in the life of any child – perhaps especially a child who is being raised to become a productive Christian. Your kids can’t learn everything God wants them to know from attending even the best church in the world. There’s just too much teaching and coaching that needs to be done. To be done successfully, you will need to spend a lot of intentional time with your kids.

So assuming you create time in your busy schedules for family time, what exactly should you be doing during that time together? Should you be preaching sermons to your kids? Can you have fun together and count it as family time?

There are actually a lot of fun, meaningful things you can do doing your family time each day. In our next post, we will share some specific ideas of things you can do with your kids. In the meantime, pull out your family calendar and schedule some family time each day. It will provide long term benefits for your children that will last years beyond their childhood.

Fun Service Project for Families

There are so many great lessons for young people in the stories of the life of Joseph. It’s a story of God making good things come from bad, of listening to and trusting God, of God’s perfect timing, of change and repentance, of forgiveness and redemption.

Why not do a service project that also gives you the opportunity to share these great lessons and the stories of the life of Joseph? You will need your Bible, your favorite bread recipe (you can find one recipe here) and the ingredients to make it.

Gather your kids and think of people you could serve with fresh homemade bread. The possibilities are endless. Have your kids help make bread. As they are working or while you let it rise, tell them the stories found in Genesis 42-50. Talk about the lessons God wants us to learn from those stories. Ask them which application principles they need to work on to be more godly. Brainstorm ways to help them remember to make the changes they want to make.

After the bread has cooled a bit, deliver it to those you have decided to serve. Your kids may also want to design cheerful notes and cards to give with the bread.

Fun Way to Teach Your Kids About Avoiding Peer Pressure

One of the hardest things for any child to become comfortable with is being different than their peers. Yet as Christian, they will make many choices that are different than those made by most of their peers in order to obey God. Some kids fold under the pressure and disobey God – more to fit in with everyone else than because they actually want to participate in the sin.

This activity can be a fun way to talk about strategies to avoid following the crowd when they know it means doing something God wouldn’t want them to do.

Read from Daniel chapter 1 the story introducing Daniel and his friends. Point out that Daniel and his friends were of royal blood. They had been brought to Babylon the Bible says, because they were also good looking and intelligent. They were already well educated because of their royal birth. The Babylonians wanted them to have three more years of education in their languages, customs, etc.

As part of the training they were to receive, they were to be fed the same way as the royals of Babylon were fed. This diet had several problems, that the Bible doesn’t specifically mention, but we can assume from what we know of both diets.

First the Babylonians ate some foods God had forbidden the Jews to eat or weren’t prepared the way God told them to prepare their food.  There was also a very good chance the food and drinks they were given had been sacrificed to idols before they were given to the captives. Daniel and his friends probably thought it was at the very least disrespectful to God to eat food sacrificed to false gods. Finally, the royal Babylonian diet was very heavy in meats, fats and oils. Those foods aren’t healthy to eat in the amounts the royal Babylonians evidently ate them. (Archaeologists have found ancient Babylonian recipes. Almost all of them were for meat dishes where the meat was also soaked in quite a bit of oil.)

Daniel and his friends made a special request. They wanted to eat a vegetarian diet and drink water. They suggested a test to prove this diet would make them healthier than the original diet they had been offered. While the Bible does not require us to eat a vegetarian diet, studies have shown it is a very healthy way to eat. God allows us to eat meat and in small portions, meat can provide things our bodies need like iron and protein.

Ask your kids what the other young men in captivity might have said or done when Daniel and his friends rejected the royal diet they were offered. What sort of peer pressure, do they think Daniel and his friends might have had to endure – not just from other captives, but from the Babylonians as well? Why do they think Daniel and his friends were able to stay focused on what they thought God wanted them to do in spite of what others said or did to them?

We don’t know for sure what they did to remain strong, but you and your kids might want to look at the stories of Daniel and the Lions’ Den and Shadrach and Friends and the Fiery Furnace that happen later in Daniel. It seems they had a pattern of doing what God wanted even when the pressure to disobey God might mean their death.

Ask your kids to brainstorm ways they can stand up to peer pressure when others are trying to get them to do things they know would mean disobeying God. You may even want to act out a few scenarios to help them practice some strategies. Peer pressure is never fun, but giving your kids some tools to stand up to it, can make the experience a little easier for them.

Fun Activity to Help Kids Understand Humble Service

Serving others can seem to come naturally to very young children. As they get older, however, selfishness can begin creeping into their hearts. Suddenly, humbling serving someone else can seem not so great. Yet, that’s one of the things God calls His people to do on a regular basis.

There’s a fun activity you can do with your kids to help them understand the realities of the humble service of people like Rebekah in the Bible. You will need your Bible and a sealed gallon water jug (or two) for each of your children.

Read or tell your children the story found in Genesis 24. Point out to your kids the time when Abraham sent his servant to find a wife for Isaac. Explain Rebekah most likely had a clay jug or jar which could hold three gallons of water. Have your kids attempt to lift two or three gallon jugs of water at the same time (This activity is best done outdoors – just in case!).

Place a “camel” several yards away from where your kids are standing. Give each child one or two (depending upon age and strength) gallon jugs filled with water. Make sure the tops are sealed. You can do this as a relay effort or make each child water “a camel” on his or her own. Each child should carry the jug(s) of water to the “camel” touch the camel and carry the jug(s) back to the starting point (To be really authentic, you can have a pretend “well” at the starting point.)

Stop when each child has carried the equivalent of 25 gallons of water. Stop and explain each of them has now watered ONE camel. The servant most likely had four or more camels. You can continue until they have each watered four camels or until they are tired. Discuss how much hard work it was for Rebekah to water the camels. What might it have shown about her character that she was willing to do that for a stranger? Why might that be important to God and to the servant that she was that willing to serve others?

Discuss how she humbly watered the camels without complaining or expecting the servant to help her. Ask them how hard that must have been for her. What ways might God want them to serve others that are difficult? How can they remember to have an attitude of humble service – even though they are tired by the difficult task?