Parenting – Indoor Family Fun

by Karen Sibal
Make Time to Eat as a Family
Nothing could be truer than the old adage: families that eat together, stay together. As busy parents in the faced paced life of modern society this can be a challenge. It’s amazing how many families don’t find the time to enjoy one meal together. Over the past 30 years, there has been a 33 percent decrease in families who say they have dinner regularly. Additional research shows: 
In a 1995 national poll, only one-third of U.S. families said they "usually have their evening meal together on a daily basis.”
From 1981-1997, family meal time declined by nearly one hour per week, from about nine hours per week to about eight hours per week. 1
Try and aim for one meal a week to spend together as a family: it could be Sunday night dinner (which is still a ritual at my mom’s place, now with my two kids and husband!) or a Saturday morning breakfast – even if it’s at McDonald’s. A family meal is a great opportunity to re-connect with each other and by doing so, each member will anticipate and treasure this special time together. 
Do Family Chores Together 
Do you find yourself assuming that your kids don’t want to help out with chores? Surprisingly enough, many kids actually want to help out around the home. Try giving your child age-appropriate things to do and make sure the tasks are not overwhelming. A 3 year old can easily fold towels and put away her toys each evening. School age children can make their beds and put away their own laundry. If you’re anticipating whining and complaining, explain the benefits of having everyone pitch in and do their part: there’s more free time for everyone to enjoy something special together. For example, if you enlist your little helpers in tidying up the living room, explain that everyone will get to play Snakes and Ladders together – hurray! 
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Read with Your Kids 
Spending as little as fifteen minutes a day can do wonders for your child’s vocabulary, comprehension and reading skills. But another equally important benefit is that it creates a special bond between you and your child. It doesn’t matter what time of the day either – some parents prefer sharing a bedtime story with their child, others may choose after school as a good time to unwind with the kids.  
Create a Family Craft Center 
You can designate a small area in your home, perhaps in the kitchen, for a Family Craft Center. And you don’t have to look far for ideas – many things are already lying around the home. Try gathering up toilet paper tubes, cotton balls from vitamin bottles, popsicle sticks, used gift wrapping paper, old magazines and newspapers, junk mail, fabric scraps, even twigs and branches from your backyard. Use plastic containers from yogurt and puddings to hold your paint, crayons, markers and glue sticks and shoe boxes to hold your other supplies. Now, let everyone’s imagination run wild! 
Designate a Family Game Night 
Setting aside a Family Game Night is as simple as designating one night a month. Let family members take turns at picking the game that will be played each month. Some great family favourites include: Monopoly, Snakes and Ladders, Scrabble, checkers, chess, and card games like Snap, Crazy 8s, and Go Fish. Round out the evening by having some great munchies on hand – popcorn, ice cream and fruit with dip are sure to bring a smile to everyone’s face. 

References:  

1. Food for Talk website, www.foodfortalk.net.  

Biography
Karen Sibal is a freelance writer, researcher and communications consultant. She is the owner of Sibal Writing and Consulting, a firm that specializes in public policy research and effective communications and web solutions for all types of organizations.  Over the past 15 years, Karen has done work for local and provincial governments and several not-for-profit organizations.  Karen has written extensively on children’s issues and has recently helped with launching an association for mothers and children in her community. She is a member of the Halton-Peel Communications Association and has also served as the managing editor of a government child welfare journal. Karen is currently authoring a children’s book series for preschool children and keeps busy with various community projects.  
Karen lives with her husband and two girls, ages 2 and 8 years, in Oakville, Ontario Canada. For more information about Karen, please visit her web site at www.sibal.ca or call 416-580-9097.


No part of this article may be copied or reproduced in any form without the express permission of More4Kids Inc © 2005

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