Did you know that August is Family Fun Month? If you’ve never celebrated this obscure holiday before, this is the perfect year to start.
Even if the summer has passed you by, you can still honor the sentiment. Here are family bonding activities to celebrate your family and strengthen your connections—both with one another and with the world around you:
Start a Family Recipe Book
It’s rare to find a clan whose recipe book has survived generational hand-offs. If your family doesn’t have one, now is a great time to start that tradition.
Begin your collection with the silliest, easiest, quickest recipe you use most often. For my family, it’s a breakfast smoothie we enjoy together just about every single morning. Under each recipe, write one or two ways it connects you. (For example, “We always get goose bumps about half-way through breakfast because of this ch-ch-ch-chilly recipe!” or “Mommy loves the 10 seconds of silence when we finally start sucking our straws each morning.”)
Let kids doodle illustrations, and use washi tape to include pictures of your kitchen adventures together. When your kids are grown, they’ll enjoy showing the next generation the food (and fun!) you made together.
Climb Your Family Tree
Experts say that developing the family narrative is the best thing you can do to strengthen your bond. When your kid becomes hyper-aware of her quirks—for instance, if she learns of a great-great-grandfather who was known for the same tics—a sense of pride can replace the temptation to become embarrassed.
“Adolescents who are embedded in a storied family history show higher levels of emotional well-being,” writes Dr. Robyn Fivush, a professor of psychology at Emory University.
Getting started in genealogy is easy. Phone your local library to see what research tools they recommend before hitting the Internet for resources. Online lists can be overwhelming, and most local librarians have already become experts in which ancestry tools are best.
When you’re researching, designate a statement wall and use construction paper to craft a large family tree that lists as many ancestors as your family can find.
Make your child’s “branch” a different color so she can see her role as an individual as well as part of the unit.
Go Screen Free
Unplug for one night a week. Your screen-free options are endless. Pull out the board games. Stargaze. Play charades. Take a walk. Or do all the above!
Whatever you do, do it without electronics and see what wacky conversations emerge. When your kids are given the space to “say whatever,” important discussions crop up naturally.
Adopt Another Family
Give back together by choosing another family in your community to support. Whether they’re burdened by physical ailments, financial restraints, or even their own voluntary benevolent outreach like foster care, you can lend a hand together.
Brainstorm ways to support your “adoptive” family anonymously. Ideas could be dropping grocery cards in their mailbox, arranging (and paying for) their own favorite babysitter to give the parents a date night, or having pizza delivered to them. Send an unsigned message that reads, “For a family fun month, we’re paying it forward, so have some fun on us!” Remember that no matter how you choose to encourage them, your own family will benefit the most from helping others.
Honor Members Separately
The California Teachers Association recommends a unique way to celebrate Family Fun Month: designate a “day” for each family member. This approach gives your family a chance to focus on one member at a time—something that benefits everyone involved.
You know your family is worth celebrating, but oftentimes, life’s busy pace gets in the way of fun. Make memories by setting aside some family bonding activities this month (or any month), and start a new tradition of celebrating each year to come.
How do you honor your family year-round? Let us know on Twitter!
Image source: Bethany Johnson
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.