Big holidays and events may make our year, but it’s the everyday moments that make our life. I’m very conscious that the way we spend our days and weeks and months together as a family really matters. When I think back to my own childhood, I barely remember the ‘big moments’ — an interstate move, an annual Queensland holiday, the birth of my brother when I was eight (sorry MT) — but rather the little moments: the way my siblings and I would play ‘restaurants’ while Mum and Dad served dinner; playing ‘King Commands’ to clean our shared bedroom (see below!); taking Mum’s grammar and spelling class on Thursdays after schools; and receiving the latest chart-topper CD from Dad whenever he returned from an out-of-town job.
Kicking back together as a family, making up silly games and laughing until you cry, is something I think all kids deserve. Taking part in something fun makes a kid feel like they truly belong. Family fun is bonding, it’s delightful, it’s something to look forward to. Family fun is important.
Most families will have activities they love to do together: bowling, beach trips, bushwalking, bike riding… does all family fun start with the letter B? But it’s the things we do that are ours alone that really make our family unique. These are the ‘family rituals’ that make up our days. The things our kids will consider when they are grown up and looking back.
Let me tell you about three fun family rituals we have at my house and the place they play in our family life. Afterwards, have a browse through the slideshow to find more family fun ideas that might suit your own family.
1. King Commands. I thought you might like me to explain this one! It’s basically the coolest way I know to turn bedroom cleaning into something fun. Each person has a turn at being the ‘king’ and the others are the ‘subjects’ who have to obey the king’s command. My girls share a room, so that’s an easy group right there, but you can still band together and do one room at a time. The king will say, “I command you to pick up everything white.” The subjects have to pick up everything white. Or “I command you to pick up all the clothes” and off the subjects go.
If you’ve got little kids (mine are currently 7, 10 and 11, but we’ve played this game since they were small), you can still play, but be realistic about how much actual cleaning will get done. By the same token, every now and then I make the mistake of leaving my kids to play King Commands without me and it can get messy (and I’m not talking about the room!). One kid will accuse the king of being unfair (eg. “I command you to pick up everything on the floor) and it’s all downhill from there. Generally, I stay on to play referee, take part in the game and enjoy some quality time with the kids.
2. My Kitchen Rules. Dinner time has not been the same since I started letting the kids watch MKR. Not only does every meal I make get a rating out of 10 (no pressure, Mum!), but we all take turns playing different judges. Between Colin’s Irish accent, Manu’s French, Pete’s Aussie and Rachel’s English, the kids are also getting a fantastic linguistic education and some of the lines they come out with have had us all in stitches.
The around-the-table-game has extended to the actual kitchen too, with all three kids battling it out for a baking crown over the past few weeks. We’ve already enjoyed apple muffins made by Max and chocolate chip cookies made by Arabella. Lottie is up next and she’s planning on making a Bomb Alaska… eeek! She insists her offering has to be a “competition dish.” Always one that wants to take thing to the next level, isn’t there? Usually the youngest!
3. Family Meetings. Now, ordinarily I wouldn’t be putting ‘meetings’ on my ‘fun’ list, but hear me out. I genuinely find our ‘every now and then’ family meetings a blast. The kids love organising them (they set an agenda and everything) and even if the topics are sometimes very un-fun — cleaning up after ourselves, reducing sibling bickering, reducing general whinging, etc — somehow getting together to talk through issues, solutions and consequences makes family meetings very special indeed. The kids get a say in what goes on, the parents get to air our grievances and everyone gets to be creative coming up with solutions. If you don’t have family meetings already, I highly recommend them!
How much importance do you give to everyday family fun? Do you have little rituals that are all your own?
More ways to celebrate being a family:
- 29 Indoor Games Your Kids Will Absolutely Love
- 10 Ways to Connect with Your Child Before Bedtime
- The 31 Best Playdate Ideas for When it’s Cold Outside
Main image: Getty