Bush: Fun, affordable family outings

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Do you ever find yourself wanting to spend time with your family, create some bonding experiences, memories to last a lifetime…but find that funds are limited or time is short? It's time to turn off the TV power off the computers and turn off the cell phones. Getting actively involved in your children's lives will benefit them socially, educationally and emotionally! Research has shown that children have a more successful life and are more balanced if they have parental involvement.

According to the Parental Rights foundation children who have parental support are likely to have better health as adults, earn higher grades, have better social skills and more likely to continue education, they are also more likely to be socially competent and have better communication skills as well as less likely to engage in smoking, drinking or drug usage. Getting to spend family time together doesn't have to be expensive or that hard to plan! Consider the age of your children, the resources available to you and what will bring your family closer together. To get your creativity flowing here are a few different ideas for an afternoon or weekend of fun!

Treasure Hunt - while this may sound juvenile or too simplistic, spice it up by hiding a surprise at the end of the hunt and make the clues easier or more complex based on age. Sample surprises could be a picnic basket for dinner afterwards, a box full of chocolates, their allowance for that week, etc. Also, another way of making it more exciting, try only giving them part of the map and then find clues along the way that lead to the destination. All that's required is…some planning time and a surprise!!

Dinner Time - take some extra time to plan a meal when ALL family members are present. Make it special, but not expensive…and leaving all electronic devices in another room, enjoy the family time to talk about the day and what's going on in each other's lives. Assign clean-up to groups, so the fun continues and everyone stays together.

Water Fun - have a creek nearby? Take the family to the creek to have a contest to see who can find the most unique, smooth, and pretty item (bragging rights to anyone who catches a live creature!). While you're down there…see if you could start a water fight!!

Day at the Park - Select a Saturday, take the afternoon to go and play at the park from after lunch until late evening. Parks often have playgrounds, tracks, tennis or basketball courts, hiking trails, bike trails and covered pavilions (for rainy days or to eat under). Another good piece of news…most parks are free of cost!! Spend the afternoon playing together, eat dinner that night (maybe get a campfire going, if it's allowed) and find a mystery or adventure story and read aloud. Once the stars come out, go on a starry night hike and then head home for a good night's rest!

Old-Fashioned Night - time to pull out your childhood memories or memories from your grandparent's time. Select an old film (it can be black and white), find a card game you used to play but haven't played in years (Rook, Hearts, Rummy, Canasta, etc.) and enjoy an evening of playing and watching a movie together. To get lots of involvement, give a couple options for movie or card game and let the majority rule. Or if you get extra time…do a couple of them!

Libraries offer many free resources, unlimited access to books, movies, music and more! Community volunteering is also a great way to bond for families! These are just a few ways to get involved, get creative and use your imagination to build on these ideas! Enjoy the warmer weather and the new life that is forming! Build memories that will last forever with your family, you won't regret it later on down the road!

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