After publishing my first 30 Minute Matters, I wondered how many ideas I would have. I started researching and realized there wasn’t a lot out there for quick family-friendly weeknight fun. Some people are just full of creativity and ideas just come to mind, but for those looking to spend quality time I have put 5 quick, fun, family-friendly projects here to ease the weeknight stresses and build the memories without lots of time. As a working mom, I may not have all the answers, but I do know that working parents should rely on each other and build up a network of support to overcome the difficulties of life outside of 9-5. These small matters . . . matter.
With kids it is about showing up . . . being there and participating in their adventures. So whether you get them to lend you a hand with a chore or you throw the chores to the back burner, these projects provide you an opportunity to show up in a condensed amount of time perfect for a weeknight.
I came up with a few ideas and used my family as guinea pigs. Only those that pass our fun test make it. These five come with our fun approval and we hope they bring you as many giggles as they brought us.
1. Bowling – Don’t reserve your lanes just yet. This is not your typical night at the alley. This is family bowling in pajamas right in the comforts of home. This is lotion bottles lined up at the end of the hallway and miniature basketballs rolling them over. This is innovative fun for the whole family. I guarantee your kids will request to do this one over and over again, so be prepared for an art project follow-up where you all make bowling badges to pin onto your pajamas. Can you get that turkey??
2. Exercise wheel – Give it a spin and you will have fun, family exercise for 30 minutes. I cut the wheel out of cardboard and attached the spinner with a brad. You pick the activities you want on your wheel and have a blast. It is also a great opportunity to reinforce the importance of living an active lifestyle.
3. Make homemade ice cream – This old fashioned treat will get everyone talking. You will need:
- 1/2 cup Kosher Salt
- Ice – enough to fill your gallon-sized bag half full
- 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 2 Tbsp Sugar
- 1 cup Half and Half
- One sandwich bag and one gallon bag
Add sugar, half and half, vanilla extract to sandwich bag. Add salt, and ice cubes to the gallon Ziplock bag. Place sealed sandwich bag inside the gallon bag and seal the gallon bag. Then toss and shake the bags around until you have ice cream.
Have everyone sit on the floor and t0ss it back and forth to each other. The person with the ice cream asks a questions then passes it to someone else. That person answers, asks another question and continues the conversation and fun until the creamy goodness is ready for sprinkles.
4. Random thank you notes – While sitting around your dinner table, talk about what made you happy that day. Who did something that brought a smile to your face. It is a great way to show your kids that even the small deeds should be remembered and appreciated.
I absolutely loved this one. I thought my younger son would have trouble with this one, but he amazed me. When I asked him who he wanted to thank, without hesitation he said his teacher. The reason was exactly the point I was trying to make – “because she always washes my face after lunch and brushes my hair.” The little things that many days go without a thank you, that become the expectation. I am fairly certain he will add a smile to her day with his thank you.
5. Dinner in the tent/fort – Set up the tent in the back yard and climb into a family sized picnic or throw some blankets over a few chairs and make a fort to feast in. Order a pizza or pop a frozen one into the oven for easy prep and clean-up leaving your full attention to the little ones and the stories you will make up together around your made up camp fire. Imagination is key when you don’t gather around the table.
The older my kids get, the tougher it is to make family time on a weeknight. Thankfully my kids are still small. I’ll have to get cracking at 30-minute matters when homework and after school projects enter our routine, but until then I will keep dreaming up ways to be present in their worlds, to keep us connected, and to build our bonds. Because when it comes down to it, the its do not matter, but the people sure do.