What is a strong family? Ask anyone, and you get an answer like “a family that loves each other.” Ask someone else, and you might hear “a family that works together” or “that trusts each other” or “that focuses on God.” You see, there are many right answers to this question. Perhaps it’s a combination that makes the best answer.
For 30 days, we’re going to focus on practical things your family can do to grow strong together. Some families have lots of members. Or maybe your family is small, like mine. Maybe you’re single and family doesn’t live with you. Whatever your situation and whomever you call family, that’s what we’re focusing on: strengthening family relationships.
These challenges will be posted daily in my 30 Day Nonfitness Challenges Facebook group. We’d love to have you join us. It’s free and you progress at your own pace. As a group we learn from one another and gain snippets of what we might apply in our personal lives.
Though the daily challenges are numbered, they can be done in any order to fit your needs and schedule. The challenge is also designed for any season and time you’d like to do it. So let’s get started:
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- Have dinner together. There are scientifically proven reasons why it’s good to eat dinner together as a family. One article I like says family relationships are strengthened when a meal is shared together. Also, more healthy food choices are often associated with meals at home. Better grades, less-picky eaters, greater happiness, portion control, healthy kids, less stress, and financial savings are all on the list. So enjoy a meal together as often as you can. Talk together. Not sure what to say? Click here for some great ideas to spark your dinner conversations.
2. Surprise! How about doing a child’s chores for them? Or maybe siblings could leave kind notes for one another or share a treat. Have a quick meeting and tell everyone in the family they have 24 hours to see how many secret surprises they can do for other family members. Be sneaky! Don’t get caught. You can leave this as anonymous service or meet after the 24 hours and share what you did for one another.
3. Read to a family member. Children can never get enough stories. Read to them, or encourage siblings to read to one another. Invite your children to read to you or to a grandparent. Share magazine articles or something of interest you found online. You might also take this day to talk about your favorite books and why you enjoy them. You’re welcome to follow my Books Worth Reading board on Pinterest for some great ideas.
4. Get outside. Go on a nature walk, or explore the city. Take photos or play a game outdoors. Look for birds or critters. Stay in your yard, or explore in your community. Even a few minutes will boost energy levels and moods, benefiting every family member.
5. Use your techiness. Ask your kids or grandkids to show you their favorite video game or something on social media. Or maybe you’re a tech-savvy parent and can teach them a thing or two. Have fun. Learn something new together. My kids and I, for instance, sometimes research how to draw things on YouTube, such as this simple cartoon puppy. I’m no artist, but even I can draw a convincingly cute pup after watching something like this:
6. Eat out. Grab a burger or pizza. Enjoy ice cream or frozen yogurt. When we go out, the rule is that cell phones are off. No techiness allowed at the table. We’re there to enjoy the splurge–time together with crazy-good food.
7. Visit the library or a bookstore. If you don’t have a library card, please get one. Your kids can each have one too at a certain age. Giving them their own card instills trust and a sense of privilege for accessing knowledge and something grown-up. Our library doesn’t always have the latest books, so we also find it fun to visit local bookstores and see all the great options. Sometimes you don’t know what you want to read–until you see it. Also, libraries and bookstores often offer storytimes and fun family events. Don’t miss out.
8. Shop and Eat Dollar Dinners. Visit the grocery store as a family. If your children don’t already know how to find and select healthy foods, teach them. Also, this activity is a great time to teach about food budgets. Give each child a few dollars (you determine) and a few rules, such as no candy or sugar. Or you could also just require that they include a meat and vegetable–whatever you decide is important. Then give them a set time to shop. They can ask you questions. They can pool their funds. But they can’t overspend the budget. After everyone has completed their shopping, head home to cook and enjoy the selections. Discuss good choices and what everyone learned. My sons love this occasional dinner, and the last time we did it, I was pleased to see that on their own they figured out they had more buying power if they pooled their money. They actually collaborated–and they’re born 10 years apart!
9. Brainstorm together. Brainstorm possible solutions to a problem. Some ideas might include: family rules, budget concerns, chores, goals or plans. Not sure how to brainstorm? Here are 6 great ways:
For an instant drawing board, we’ve used window crayons and chalk markers (affiliate links) to write on a window near our kitchen table. You could also use a kid’s art easel or laptop whiteboards. Or grab paper or poster paper. Just be sure to involve everyone, and don’t discourage ideas. ALL ideas are important to consider at first. Then decide as a team which ideas to cross out as you narrow the thought process.
10. Write a family motto. Now that you know how to brainstorm, involve everyone in writing a family motto. This doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. Jot down ideas, goals, or standards that your family wants to achieve or live by. Here’s an example of a simple family motto. This one is called a family vision. And this is a family manifesto. If you want a quote to memorize and live by, here’s a good one: We Can Do Hard Things.
You can see there are several options when it comes to writing or selecting a family motto. Do what’s right for you, but also keep in mind that you’ll want to review your family motto often to stay on track. So you might want to hang it on a wall or in a special place.
11. Brainstorm a family vacation. This can be a real vacation you plan to take, or you can brainstorm as a family where you’d go if money were no object. In that case, learn about the dream destination together, consulting the internet and local library for information. Then share as a family what you’ve learned. Maybe make a local dish or watch a movie about your dream destination. If you’re planning a real vacation, definitely check Pinterest for ideas. Discuss budget. Consult the calendar. Start planning.
12. Make a craft together. You don’t have to be an artist to enjoy doing something creative together. But if you do happen to have an artistic family, let the creative juices flow! For the majority of us, here are some basic ideas to consider. Make a simple handprint craft such as this one. Gift it or hang it proudly on a wall. And wouldn’t these painted rocks be cute in your garden? So easy!
13. Play a favorite board game together. Play a favorite or dig in the closet until you find one that’s been hiding. Bring it out, and enjoy it together. We love playing a variety of board games and have created a gift guide you might consider if you’re stuck for ideas.
14. Write a letter. Yes, snail mail. Get out your pens and paper and write to immediate or extended family that you don’t often see in person. The littles can draw pictures. Your older children can practice their best penmanship. A card or thoughtful letter is especially important for aging grandparents living at home or in care centers. My mother-in-law has Alzheimers and lives in a group home. Family members visit her regularly, but she absolutely treasures the cards she receives. She carries them around with her and reads them over and over. So take a moment to write. And if you want to branch out in writing letters of service to others, I have some great ideas in this related article.
15. Read a favorite scripture or quote together and discuss. What does it mean to you? What did you learn? How can we apply what this teaches? Perhaps you might write it down and post it somewhere in your home where you will see it often. You could also challenge family members to memorize it.
16. Beautify a spot in your yard. If you already have an amazing yard, choose a simple project you can complete in an afternoon or a short amount of time. If your yard is a work in progress, just pick one spot to improve. Work together for a set amount of time and see what you can accomplish. You’ll be amazed at what several people can accomplish in 30 minutes or less. For today’s simple goal, avoid spending hours in the hot sun pulling weeds. Nobody enjoys that. Instead, make this a short, simple, fun activity to enjoy together. Here are some great ideas to get you started. Hang a hummingbird feeder or a regular bird feeder. Here’s the hummingbird nectar recipe, which is crazy easy to make. Plant some lavender for a lovely fragrance. Add plants that will bring in the butterflies. Create a fun fairy garden. My niece Addi has created several fairy gardens, and I just love them! And she loves it when I contribute fun miniatures to her collection.
17. Listen to an uplifting podcast. I’m admittedly late to the game on this one. I’ve listened to a few podcasts but not regularly. However, I know that many people access them regularly and enjoy them. Here are 12 Family Friendly podcasts you might enjoy.
18. Serve someone. There are so many ways you can serve as a family within your community. Just look around. See a need and fill it. Still stumped? I suggest some great ideas here, here, here, and here. As you can see, I’ve spent a great deal of time writing about unique service opportunities for children and families. You can also search near your location via volunteermatch.org or justserve.org.
19. Make a treat together. Cookies? Cake? Shakes? Show your children how to cook in the kitchen. The reward is awesome goodness. Don’t have kids? Still make the treat. Sharing it with others makes it taste even better, I promise. Here’s a recipe for Fried Scones, one of our favorites, that we share with neighbors once a year, usually at Halloween, but it’s good for any time of year. It’s a great, inexpensive way to treat the masses or make a small batch just to enjoy as a family.
20. Go on a penny drive. Have you ever played this? It’s so simple–but unexpected. Get in your car and buckle up. Pull out of the driveway and get ready to flip a penny. Head to the end of the street. Flip. Tails, you go left. Heads, you go right. You determine how many flips. Maybe each family member gets a turn or two turns? See where you end up–and enjoy a nice drive along the way. Stop for treats if they happen to be close by, or just head for home. Simple, adventuresome, and fun!
21. Attend a local free event. Not sure what’s free in your community? Now’s the time to learn. Search online for ideas. KidsOutAndAbout.com is an online nationwide resource, featuring events and activities in many cities. Access their main site and scroll down to the city nearest you. Or search Facebook events near you. Try to find something new to enjoy.
22. Enjoy live theater or music together. You might consider purchasing tickets to a local theatre. If that’s too expensive, search for free community events. Attend a live performance. Don’t just watch it on a screen. Most communities offer wonderful opportunities to experience the arts. Be aware and watch for them. Here are some tips for taking children to see live theater, in case you’re a little bit concerned.
23. Play a sport together. Not good at sports? Neither am I. But I can run and kick a ball, and my boys think it’s so much fun to beat me, which they can easily do. Or maybe you’re a pro. Well, have at it! Pick a sport, and get the whole family involved. Use your yard, or visit a nearby park. No one has to keep score. Just play. Get up, move, and have fun!
24. Go on a bike ride. You may end up with a tricycle in tow, but get on your bikes and go. Our family takes it slowly, and for years we had an attached rider. With little ones, make the ride short and fun, without hills or rough terrain. As your fitness level and family grow, you can decide just how far to take your rides. Pack a lunch, and enjoy the scenery along the way. Be sure to prep a little so you have a great experience. Click here for ideas. And I must add, wearing biking shorts sure does help–even on short rides. I’m just sayin’.
25. Hike it! Know some local hikes? Hopefully you’ve already enjoyed them together. Want to find something new? Download a trail app or buy a book about local hikes. I prefer a book since you might be out of cell range in the mountains. Again, I recommend starting out easy if you don’t have much experience. Stroller trails or paved walkways are a good place to start. Then work your way up. Here are 10 tips that might help your family make the best of your time hiking together.
26. Spotlight an ancestor. How well do you know your ancestors? What about your spouse or kids? Visit familysearch.org or ancestor.com and see what you can find out. Choose one ancestor to learn about. Print a picture, if available, and put it in a file folder. On the back of the folder, list a few bits of information about them. Save the most obvious clues for last. Then see if your family can guess which ancestor’s photo is in the folder. Work with a recent generation so as to give family members a good chance at being familiar enough to guess. If you don’t think it would work well to spotlight an ancestor, you might choose a living relative. It’s always fun to see how much you know about someone. Another idea for honoring an ancestor is to look up their birthdate and serve cake on the appointed day. Show their picture and tell your family all about them. This is a great way to bring their memory to life.
27. Write a letter or prepare a package for an extended family member. We all receive emails and texts, but an unexpected handwritten letter, card, or package is different and special. Think of someone in your extended family who could use a little boost. Or maybe they have an upcoming birthday. Take the time to write them a kind note. This is a great way for children to connect with family as they hone their writing and penmanship skills. This is pretty much a repeat of number 14, but it’s such a good thing to practice and do. Choose someone different this time, and send them a little something in the mail.
28. Visit an ancestor’s grave. Take a few moments to clean the area and arrange a few flowers. Tell your family about this person. If you can’t visit a grave in person, you can likely find a picture of their site at findagrave.com.
29. Choose a local place you’ve never visited. Perhaps there’s a store you’ve been meaning to see inside. Or what about a museum or historical site? See if there’s some place you drive by all the time but have never visited. Take a look around. You might discover something new.
30. Spruce up the house. This isn’t just about doing chores. But take a step back and see if there’s a place in your home that could use a little TLC. Maybe you could add a wreath to the front door. Or maybe the porch steps need to be swept. What if you switched a picture or decoration? Most of us have decor in rooms that are seldom seen. Pretend you are designers and go in every room. Is there something in the bedroom that would be more noticed in the living room? Do a swap. Or maybe the whole house needs a quick pickup. Set the timer for 15 minutes–and go! What can you accomplish with everyone’s help? Keep this project short and sweet; yet try to choose something that will make a noticeable, big impact. Make it even more of a challenge and don’t spend any money. Use what you already have.
I hope your family enjoyed doing this 30-day challenge together. I hope you learned from one another and have an increased desire to make family time a priority. With all that is going on in our lives, let’s make sure we focus on what really matters. Families are forever. Let’s take care of them today.
Did you make it through the whole challenge? Parts? Which ideas would you alter or add? I’d love to hear them; please leave me comments so I can learn from you.