By Shaan Khan
Sadly for some, the idea of a family weekend activity is accommodated with anxiety. Worrying about impatience and the classic line of ‘are we there yet?’. Can’t forget the kids temper tantrums if they’re not having fun. Nor the arguments that can kill the mood in a heartbeat. Oh, and last but not least, the annoying bureaucracy and complex instructions that just suck away the fun from activities—especially being toured around by a guide that’s pushy, uninterested and clearly itching for a paycheck.
Worst yet is receiving the gut-wrenching words of ‘Why can’t you be more like this person!’
It’s hard to trust the marketing for activities these days that sell you a dreamy promise and not the reality. Even harder is picking activities that will satisfy the whole family!
Now, this is not to scare you away. Family weekend activities are a godsend for a plethora of reasons which I will outline throughout this article, accompanied with specific activity examples that I’ve delved into to capture the full unadulterated picture of the recommended experiences that will satisfy your whole family.
The Need for Family Activities
I’m sure many feel the strain on family bonds dealt by our isolating electronic devices; it’s a scary thought that excessive content consumption can cause such a rift within a family where you practically feel like strangers living in the same household.
What a family activity should be about is:
- Distracting you from societal insecurity
- Creating everlasting memories that make you think of the good times whenever a gloomy cloud is above your head
- To learn about one another
- Mould your own inside jokes and find the banter that works with you all
- Gain newfound respect for each other based on how each of you performed in an activity
Engage Imagination & Creativity
Gluttony is the mind-killer. Overindulgence pacifies our minds to a zombified state where we merely absorb, not create. It’s destructive, and many jobs don’t offer a solution with their rudimentary tasks and long-term monotony.
Imagination & Creativity is the key to escapism. To feel human by exploring every aspect of your mind, equally, becoming amused by the unlocked vibrance of your family’s minds.
You’re going to know each other better and hopefully become surprised by a family member’s creation that could be entertaining or thought-provoking—uncovering a blossoming talent that you all support and bring forth to the world.
This is especially important for kids in the family, to support them in finding themselves and not letting any of their undiscovered talents go to waste. Even if none of you showcases any talent with these following activities, you’ll feel the fun of doing something refreshing and have a few laughs in the process!
Instead of recommending the typical activities of painting, poetry or pottery classes—I will suggest unique examples that incorporate a variety of creative practises:
Home Transformation: Using only household items, turn your house into a makeshift venue for the weekend with the theme your family chooses. It could be a theme park, haunted house, medieval castle or hospital. Incorporate arts & crafts to play into the theme by creating signs, scripts, posters, outfits, etc.
Each room should offer a unique experience, and you could invite extended family or family friends over to check it out—even charging tickets for entry!
You’ll have fun being creative together, helping one another out and working on separate tasks which are suitable and favourable for each individual, so no one is forced to do the same thing.
You work together for a finished product for other people to enjoy, highlighting to the kids the importance and role creativity has in society.
A Family Play: From the comforts of your home, band together as a family and discuss constructing a play. Each family member can produce a screenplay, and each of them can be acted out in sequences throughout the show. It could be one entire story they agree upon, but each part they work on separately or together.
To act out the play, the family members can act or use toys as the actors. Use cameras to capture the experience to truly feel like you’re operating every part of a movie set. Materialising your imagination this way is fulfilling and offers value to our minds, making us more confident expressing our creativity for what it can create instead of keeping it hidden away.
Etsy DIY Together: The e-commerce website is home to artisanal crafts and is increasingly growing with sellers and inspiring more people to create their own unique crafts. As a family, browse and perhaps purchase from Etsy, study the products, search for tutorials, then create something Etsy-like together!
An example could be a candle, learning about the pricing for certain ingredients & materials, scavenging the local nature areas for components such as pine needles and finally creating the product together using unique ideas for the candle’s design.
You could either keep the candle, gift it to a loved one or sell it on Etsy—feeling fulfilled by your creation and offering an important life lesson for the family that working together creatively can lead to these positive results—both intrinsic & extrinsic rewards.
The Thrills & Luxuries of Life
Creativity is one way to make life a little less mundane, but the same goes for the sensory overload of thrill-seeking and sensational luxury. It’s why you’ll probably never find a list of family activities that don’t recommend a family theme park, and the same goes for this article.
Theme parks are designed so attentively around family, where everyone of all ages and fear levels can experience some kind of thrill. There’s food, snacks, arcades and gift shops, so much to keep you all both occupied & satisfied. I would advise saving up for the tickets that bypass the standard queues—unless you view queues as a way of building patience in a family, just keep in mind it will limit what you can do throughout the day.
Alternatives to rollercoaster theme parks would be the following:
- Trampoline Parks
- Children amusement centres such as play zones with ball pits
- Obstacle courses, i.e. Ninja Warrior Adventure Park
- Water Parks
The mecca of family theme parks would have to be Disney World; it truly has it all, being able to engage a child’s imagination while offering them tons of thrills. Whenever I ask people their favourite childhood memory, I typically get the response of ‘going to Disney World’ or Disney Land as a second-place alternative.
Considering that it’s not cheap planning a visit to Disney World, if you’re fortunate enough to save up and go, make it pertinent to your family members that it took hard work and time to acquire this family activity. While Disney World will be memorable, they will also be reminded that it’s a goal you work towards to achieve such great experiences.
Education Made Fun
It’s vital we mix up the methods to which we are educated. Especially from a teen or child’s perspective, where they are taught by a teacher in a classroom with information on a whiteboard every day, it can get stale. Our minds begin to perceive education as boring, where it’s a means of getting good grades, then outside of the classroom, we dare not use our free time to learn something new due to classroom fatigue.
It’s a fear that limits our potential of excelling in a subject we might enjoy, pursue as a career and benefit others with our newfound talent and knowledge.
- Museum trips are a good starting point, especially interactive museums that have actors who roleplay a historical re-enactment to have you all fully immersed and engaged with the history and its knowledge on display.
- To up the ante of interactive, playful education, as a family, you can attend conventions, expos or bookable classes that allow you to communicate with experienced professionals and interact with the latest innovations and experiments in fields such as Science, Technology and Engineering.
- A brilliant way to encourage education is for your family to study a subject or historical moment, which you all will take up roles in to re-enact. As expressed earlier, this could be done within the household. Choosing the theme of a hospital or shop will mean you as a family will have to learn about the real-life duties associated with them to have a playful roleplay session together.
Roleplay re-enactments are not limited to the household; you can find public events that have re-enactments people can sign up to as long as they are willing to learn their roles.
The Importance of Peace, Relaxation & Nature
Life can get chaotic for all of us, and it can become difficult to step back and take a breather with our families due to how unfamiliar it is to disconnect from work and ad-hoc responsibilities. While energetic kids might be more prone to wanting thrills, action and luxuries; introducing peace, relaxation and nature is a way of adapting children to a balanced lifestyle. Knowing when to shift between the two needs to accommodate our mental health and its many shifting levels of stress, anxiety, dopamine, depression and several other gauges—it’s a complex engine up there!
So it’s back to simplicity, heading out on a camping trip, cooking s’mores and going on hiking trails. To gain the principles of fundamental survival that fully engage your senses, unlike our typical passive states of living within our fully functional, constructed homes.
Appreciate the beauty of the untouched wilderness, become mindful of the differences in noise, motion and demand you get between being in urban life and being one with nature.
Try encouraging your family to do yoga, meditate, or even perform haiku, a form of Japanese poetry with symbolic meaning in the text invoked by the natural surroundings. If poetry isn’t of interest, then draw or simply reflect on life while somewhere so peaceful and non-distracting as places of nature.
If you choose to camp at a national park, you’re very likely to stumble upon outdoor activity centres close by, which I would highly advise you check out to add some education & fun to the trip. One such activity at these centres would be raft building. Your family will be given a set of items to which you will create a raft together and even get to put it to the test by riding the raft on a lake and seeing if you all sink!
Nature can feel lonely, but that’s what brings people together. Hence, as the sun sets, comfort one another at night and entertain each other with good ole campfire stories, songs or just thoughtful conversations, which are the best when you’re in a calm & relaxed state thanks to the peaceful wilderness.
In the diverse societies we live in today, there is access to a wide degree of international culture. Encouraging open-mindedness to experience other cultures will perhaps surprise your family with a newfound interest in certain foreign foods, festivals, music and dance.
Stepping outside of your comfort zone and encouraging your children to do the same is the steps towards combatting ignorance within diverse societies, and having your kids grow up to become adaptable is an asset to society, for their ability to connect and cooperate with a range of people of different cultures.
Cultural Enrichment also presents the opportunity to develop new skills, such as learning different languages if you choose to partake in activities with communities that speak another language.
Exposing children to a variety of music, dance and talents in the world could inspire them. Also, boost the moods of every family member. Exploring culture is the equivalent to soul searching—becoming involved in these activities to find what will fulfil each family member.
As a family, volunteering to help the planet or people is a way of instilling positive principles within your family and feeling the satisfying reward of helping others and making a change in result.
You could prepare food as a family for a homeless shelter, venture to your local parks or forests to pick up litter or attend tree planting events.
All these ideas for weekend family activities offer many benefits, most notably teamwork, that every family needs, and so is the memories that accompany the experiences. So if you feel there has been some disheartening distancing between family members, then a family weekend activity is the wake-up call you all need. Hopefully, this guide will set you off in the right direction of planning the activities.