Friday, July 8, 2011

Family Time: Keeping Teens (and Everybody Else) Close

Thank you to all who commented yesterday. You really ARE there, which makes me feel better.

It's Friday. Let me say that correctly....It's FRIDAY!!!

Friday has always been my favorite day of the week, but I have more reason now, during the summer, than ever before. Today is the day the Warden has off. Just a little extra bonus reason for the summer to be a wonderful time of the year.

As I'm pondering on the happenings of the day--the potential is endless--I thought I'd share a bit more about something I've only alluded to in the past.

Last year I found that we had reached that fateful point in life in which our kids were getting older and were out running around all the time. They were active in school, sports, church and so many other activities. People had warned me that that time would come. And it had. **heavy sigh**

We still had dinner together nearly every night, but it just felt like the oldest of the kids were gone more than they were here. This just COULDN'T happen! I wasn't going down without a fight.

So, I took a fancy bowl that we inherited from the Warden's grandmother and filled it with free or really inexpensive family activities. Once a week, during our Sunday evening family council, each person in the family would pick an idea out of the bowl and throw it on the table. They weren't allowed to read it before they put it on the table because some of our kids, even if it said "pick weeds" would be defending their own just for the sake of it being "their own."

When we created the slips of paper, we sat down and the kids threw out a bunch of ideas--just a family brainstorming session. I also found tons of resources online. This is one of my faves for the Portland area. Wherever you live, I'm sure there are resources to be found--even if it's the closest big town's chamber of commerce.

All we did was jot them down on a piece of plain paper, cut them apart, fold them up and throw them in the bowl. We now have so many that we can't put the lid on the cute thing. Although we did it so simply, you could get as fancy as you dare--typed, laminated, etc.

So, back to the plan at hand, after the kids put them on the table, we, one of the adults, opens them up and reads them off. We decide how much of a budget we have for the day and go from there. Sometimes we only do one of the activities, but sometimes, when the stars align just right, we end up doing two, three or four of them in a series. There was the day we went and played basketball as a family and went and got Jamba Juice afterward. There was the night we went to the cheap movies and got ice cream after.

In our list of things to do, we have hikes, sports, cultural activities, inside activities (board games, etc.), seasonal activities (you can only hope you pull the "water fight" slip during the summer because I know my kids'd totally be in if we pulled it in January), restaurants, etc.

Here are a couple of photos from times when I had the brains enough to bring the camera along and then got it out AND used it (these three rarely happen all in the same trip):

The carousel at Jantzen Beach

Sunday afternoon on the temple grounds.  Not sure why some are dressed down for this activity, but ah well.  There are always those who slip under the radar--truth be told.

Here's a short video of some of the craziness from our family basketball trip:

video

We eliminate the activities that would be inappropriate--say, the water fight in January or taking a leer jet to Paris for escargot (not really in there, but hey, if you've got the means, I would recommend it, but you have to adopt me first)--and vote on what remains. In our house, the vote has to be silent and blind--either written or eyes shut and hands raised. We usually vote three different times eliminating two or three on each round. The first round is for their top three, eliminate those with the lowest votes, and go around again voting for the top two from that list. You get the idea. We finally get down to their top one. We see if the most-voted-for activities can somehow be combined. From there, we look at the calendar, and plug it into a date and time.

Once this is on the calendar, it's sacred--not to be touched. There have been times, on really busy weeks when we've planned it, and during the planning, also chosen a plan B time just in case. I highly recommend this.

When the day and time has come as we've done this, it's been something we've all looked forward to for the entire week. We all gather together, and it's like a big family party. The feeling is indescribable.

Do you have something similar you do in your family? What do you do to keep your kids as members of the family when their lives get crazy?

If you try this, I'd love to know how it goes and what you end up doing.

We didn't have family council this past Sunday, which is pretty unheard of around here, but we were out of town, so it was easy to forget. So, we'll draw, vote and go today. Can't wait to see what we end up doing (Oh, and pray that I find my camera.  It's been lost since I returned from Spokane. **sigh**)....

5 comments:

Crazymamaof6 said...

Sounds super fun. I still get loads of together time with my kids but in a few years i'm totally gonna do this.

Darilyn said...

There is a carousel in Jantzen beach? How cool is that! Love your ideas. Yes, I too feel the disconnect in our family with kids running everywhere. The sad part for me is that they would rather be with their friends then home. But I just remind myself that I was like that as well at that age and that it too will pass. There will come a time in their life when they will long for the comforts of home. They just don't realize it yet. And I LOVE the picture at the temple of your kids. Awesome.

Diane said...

We do this even though we are not yet here and there and everywhere. I usually plan one or two things and then we vote. But I love to just go out and be chore free so that I can enjoy all of us.

Julia Shinkle said...

Julie there is a place called Tryon Creek in Porland/Lake Oswego area that is such a nice walk. I used to go there as a kid and it is beautiful and shady and cool. You should look into that...they have a little nature center at the beginning of the trail too. The paths are nice and easy to walk. I really want to take my kids there this summer.

Diane said...

I've now reached the stage where I have to phone everyone to arrange a get-together. Fortunately, at this time, their families all live close by. that may change in the near future. What a fantastic idea. It is so wonderful that you recognized this time of life and acted on it. Your family is blessed for it!

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