Back to school builds a wide range of emotions. Parents worry about lunches, homework, whether kids are getting enough sleep – then once a routine begins to emerge you begin to worry about whether you are getting enough quality time in before bedtime. I’m here to put your mind at ease. 30 minutes matter and you can pack a lot into 30 minutes that will bring everyone together for some family fun.
Here are five family activities to try on a weeknight between dinner and bedtime or whenever you can get everyone together for 30 minutes. We LOVE books and I try to find a book that goes with our adventure. My family is all about having fun and making a memory or two – but simple is best for a weeknight!!
Bath Time Art – Gotta get’um clean, so make some glow in the dark paint to take in the tub with you. I found my recipe on Growing A Jeweled Rose. Mix shaving cream with a dab of glow-in-the-dark paint. Choose as many colors as you’d like, throw the babes in the tub and let them decorate. Actually, we get clean first – then play. Be sure to place the shaving cream paint in the light while you eat dinner so it has a strong glow in the bathtub. Play a little game of pictionary where the kids draw and you guess what they are drawing. My kids have never enjoyed bathing more.
No worries, paint cleans up easily with a quick wipe of a washcloth or splash from the shower head.
Otter Takes a Bath, by Sam Garton is a hilarious story about a playful Otter that is always getting himself into trouble. He and his Teddy take getting dirty to a whole new level of messy in this fun adventure.
Memory Lane – Do you remember your favorite show from your childhood? Well, find yourself a copy and watch it with your kids while sharing your favorite childhood meal. Follow up with some popcorn for a full night of fun. We picked my husbands favorite, “Different Strokes,” and spaghetti. It was so much fun to watch our kids react to a show from our childhood. We were all laughing and wondering what Willis was talking about.
So, my husband is an amazing father. I am able to do so much with my time because he is an awesome partner – but he thinks like a kid. When I get so wrapped up in details, he is already starting the adventure and having fun. So getting to relive some of his favorite childhood memories made me think of, When Dad’s Don’t Grow Up, by Marjorie Blain Parker. It is a fun one to read and discuss with your kids and great for starting conversations about “When we were young . . .”
Dollar Store Crafts – I’ll be honest, this could be hit or miss – but that is life with kids. Pick up a couple projects at the dollar store or in the dollar section of the craft store and store them away. Pick a busy night and give them time to create something amazing. No rules, just artistic freedom to make something remarkable. The sky is the limit. Sit them at the table while you cook. It has become a habit that I come check in on them, and they come check on me to help stir or season. The best part is they are close enough to keep the conversation going.
Matched this activity up with a story by Maribeth Boelts titled, “Those Shoes.” This book reminds us that things cost money and not everyone has the money to buy the newest and best of things. It helps little ones learn to appreciate what they have and the value of a dollar.
Pizza Night and a Game – Order it from your phone when you are close to home. Serve it up picnic style on a blanket in the family room and jump right into the game of choice. My hubby makes a quick veggie to keep things healthy. Or pop a frozen pie in the oven and play the game while you wait. There is no wrong way to do pizza and game night. Maybe not a revolutionary idea, but add a little fun with charades or blindfolded Pictionary.
Huckleberry Finn Walk – An adventure on a beautiful evening. Print up a scavenger hunt beforehand and just go. Take a few flashlights and your night vision goggles and make an adventure. Great for a night of leftovers (we call it bonvoir to be fancy) a quick warm up and simple clean up. Capture (and release) a grasshopper, identify leaves, find a walking stick. If your kids are old enough, have them lead the way home. Let them take a wrong turn or to – it is always worth the extra adventure.
Time to read a whole novel is not part of the 30 minute routine, but this little story is. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: A Camping Primer, by Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver is a great way to introduce the great outdoors to your children.
Overall, put down the phones, the iPads, the technology and reconnect to the people that make your life full. Be together. When we make time for a 30 minute project, we end up spending even more time together. Adding the story leads us right to bedtime and reading together is a very special time. 30 minutes really matter!