We all live busy lives, and it's not always easy to find time together as a family. Between driving children back and forth to sports practices or those late nights at the office, carving out space for downtime and connection can seem impossible.
However, when you are intentional with your family's time and obligations, you can create opportunities to connect as a family. No matter if you have toddlers or teens, our 20 fun family activities will bring you all a little closer and create memories that can last a lifetime!
When it comes to planning fun family activities, there are two types of people out there: the planner and the last-minute-activity-searcher. While there is no wrong way to approach fun activities to do with kids, both planning and spur of the moment activities have their pros and cons.
My sister has four children ranging in ages from 4 to 13. She spends an excessive amount of time driving her children to appointments or sports and has minimal downtime. She is the planner and must set up specific blocks of time to enjoy fun family activities. To get her entire family together, she has to pre-book her fun family activities like an appointment. While these appointments keep her on track, she has a hard time adjusting when the plan changes.
This is me, and I'm guilty as charged. I have two children, 8 and 3, and while I am adept at home organization, I am terrible at planning fun activities to do with kids. For example, just yesterday, I popped over to a friend’s house with a cookie making kit for the kids and a smile. I am a spur-of-the-moment planner and always up for whatever anyone wants to do. However, this can become a challenge when trying to find last-minute fun activities with kids. Without a plan, places may be closed, booked, or entirely something my kids are not interested in. As a last-minute planner, you have to roll with the punches and be flexible if your fun family activity is a flop because you didn't think that far in advance.
While my sister and I approach our family activity plans differently, we always find the time to make meaningful connections with our children and spouses. While not always easy, we make it happen. I must also admit that we share a list of activities when looking for something new and exciting. It is incredibly helpful to have someone tell me what activity worked for the toddler, but not a teen. While you may not have a sister who shares fun family activity ideas like this, you could rely on a brother, mother, cousin, or friend! You can even rely on this list of the fun family activities I have outlined below.
No matter if you are a planner or a last-minute searcher, to make these fun family activity ideas work for you, try a mix of both styles! Sometimes plans change, weather or sickness gets in the way, and you need to pivot. With a backup plan and a list of potential activities that bring your family together to make family memories, you will never have to worry about missing out on those precious times together. Below is the list of some of my favorite family activities that can fit into "the plan" or flex into some last-minute family fun time!
With such a range of ages and tastes in our family, movie night is so much more than just picking and watching a movie. Debating and deciding which movie to watch is half the fun of the actual film! Make sure to split up who picks out the film, so everyone has a chance - and slip in a few "classics" to give the kids a glimpse of different cinematography styles!
With the popularity of some television shows like NailedIt and Top Chef, cooking as a family is always a fun way to unwind. Having the family together in the kitchen, cutting up vegetables, and thumbing through recipes passes the time and produces some tasty treats!
Our family has spent countless hours playing Settlers of Catan, building Monopoly houses on Boardwalk, and sinking battleships. A game night gets everyone together around the table, but I also love games that also work to teach my children strategy and approach problems from multiple angles.
Signing up for a fitness event such as a 5k charity run or a virtual race can be a fantastic way to bond with your children. The time spent staying active with your children can also help establish good early habits.
From setting up lane bumpers for the toddlers to the older kids competing against each other, bowling can be adjusted for all ages. Also, to spice up the game, try and add in a little competition! In our family, we have a bowling trophy that changes hands every time we bowl. It's become something of a tradition, and we all get excited over who will win the trophy next!
There seems to be nothing more exciting to a child than setting up a tent and sleeping outside. Truthfully, you don't even need to leave your own home, as setting up a tent in your backyard can do the trick! Get together pillows, sleeping bags, and blankets and hunker down for a night under the stars!
After we were gifted a pizza stone one year, making homemade pizzas became a favorite event in our house. Everyone rolls out their dough and tops their pizza with whatever toppings and sauce they choose.
While there are fewer options for concerts these days, there are some fun outside venues still performing. Find a local restaurant or venue in your area and see if there are open mic nights or local artists who still play on the weekends.
While not my husband's favorite night, it is a sure win with the girls. This is a fun time where we pamper and lounge around the family room together. From charcoal face masks to painting nails and styling hair, there are many laughs and lots of silly makeup looks!
Origami has become a fascination in my house since my daughter became obsessed with making a perfect origami dog. Watching my children and husband folding tiny pieces of paper together is a heartwarming sight and I also love stringing the finished products together as a garland to hang on the furniture.
I was never fond of museums - until I had children. There is something amazing about watching a child's face light up when they see dinosaur bones for the first time or learn about a particular event in history. Not only do museums get us out of the house, but we always learn something new every time we go.
One of our more memorable family night experiences was an epic science experiment fail. Our volcano did not "explode," and that failure thrust our family down the path of trying as many of these science experiments as possible. Even bad outcomes have become some of the best memories!
This is a great way to look back and remember all of the good times you had as a family. Before you start this project, however, make sure you use a great photo saving platform like the Rosy Home console or Rosy Go app. Rosy will organize your photos for you, and also save them in a private location viewable to only you. When you are ready to build your photo book, all your photos will be organized in one place - easy for you to grab and build into a book of memories. Or, save some trees and view them right from Rosy!
Hiking is a great way to get the whole family outside to enjoy nature. From your local park up the street or a national park in another state, a hike will get you moving. For the more advanced hikers, pick up a compass and a topographical map of the area you want to hike and work on your orienteering skills!
With your family, pick a specific day you want to remember and choose a container to hold that day's items. Put together a mix of photos, art projects, notes, or newspapers. Fill up the container, decorate it, and then hide your box in a storage closet, attic, basement, or garage. Check the time capsule in a few years to remember what exactly you were doing as a family!
If you have never heard of geocaching, I'm here to tell you - it's incredible. As the "world's largest treasure hunt," geocaching gets you outside and hunting for items. Geocaching uses GPS-enabled devices, which has your family navigating to a set of specific GPS coordinates to find the treasure. You never know what you will find in a geocache, and that's half the fun!
My father-in-law just began learning magic tricks for the kids. Watching him perform magic through a Zoom call to my three-year-old is well...magical. Not only will you learn a new skill, but learning a magic trick is always a crowd pleaser!
Instead of a single night together, how about an entire week together? Planning a staycation can be very beneficial for your family. Nights and days together without the complications of work and other priorities will help strengthen your connection as a family unit and create long-lasting memories as well.
Kids love playing in the dirt, so what better way can there be to encourage this than a kid’s garden? Growing a kid's garden not only teaches children about nature and the environment, but it will also produce some healthy and delicious vegetables.
The older generation is only here a finite amount of time, so it is essential to allow your children to get to know their grandparents. For your next family night, invite over grandma and grandpa and get them talking about their childhood and their experiences. With so many questions to ask, the amount of data can be overwhelming. To help with the storage and organization, see if you can document their stories or experiences and save them with Rosy Home or Rosy Go. With Rosy, you will have access to their pictures and audio for years to come, and can pass them down to younger generations for posterity.
Interested in learning more about Rosy and how it can help document and save your family activity memories? Sign up for our waitlist.
About the Author
Julie Simpson is a freelance writer and SEO consultant from Mobile, Alabama. She also loves paddleboarding with her husky and spending time in her garden. You can see her work at spilledcoffeecontent.com.