Having regular family time elevates moods and helps maintain a cheerful home environment, a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology showed. Vacations, weekend outings, and family nights all make for a happier, healthier family. Unfortunately, every moment together cannot be full of Disneyland visits and week-long cruises. When it comes to planning family nights, time, money and collective interests must be considered to make the activities enjoyable for everyone.
Give them something to talk about
The groundbreaking psychosocial researcher, Erik Erikson, discovered a child goes through a couple significant developmental stages between the ages of 6 and 18. From 6 to 12 a child is developing a sense of self by accomplishing new tasks. An adolescent is creating identity by forming relationships. Doing something adventurous like dirt biking or ATV riding fits well into these developmental periods. Make your child responsible for both his safety and his fun. Together, visit an online ATV store long before the first trip and begin selecting helmets and other safety accessories. The ride itself may only last a few hours but the accomplishment and the stories will last a lifetime.
Remember these days through their eyes
Researchers are finding there is a certain devaluation of leisure time in families. Photography is a great family activity that sits well in that grey area between work and fun. A digital camera can be purchased for less than $20 so smaller children can enjoy the activity without parents worrying over the loss of an expensive camera. Photo safaris are enjoyable day events and using the software to digitally enhance photos is very educational. Take a look at the Corel Paint Shop Family, which is specifically designed for hobby photographers.
Get them a puppy… book
If you are planning to get a dog (or if you already have one) turn that into a family activity. Having a pet is a responsibility, but can become a fun hobby. The American Kennel Club lists 178 recognized breeds of dog, and each one has its own skills and traits. Start learning about them and about your dog. Dog shows are amazing educational events. Not only do you get to see the dogs compete but most shows allow you to pet and learn about each of the breeds. This is a hands-on hobby at its best.
Get weird with it
Every family has its quirks. Take those little oddities and make them into full-fledged activities. If your family thinks the Addams Family was pretty normal then go on a taphophilia vacation. Go visit tombstones throughout the nation. You would not be the only ones. National Geographic lists a visit to Lafayette Cemetery as one of the top ten things to do in New Orleans. Los Angeles has a celebrity cemetery tour for people who want to visit the graves of the rich and famous. Whatever your family interests, no matter how odd, there is a world of fun and adventure out there for you.