Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Family Time Ideas...the LE Version!

47 Fun Ideas for Family Time & Couple's Dates 


Summer is in fill swing! And while many of us juggle work schedules as LE families, it is so, so, so important to remember to live life on those rare days off together! "Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life." One of my all time favorite quotes because it is such a great reminder to make life count outside of our jobs. And with the intensity and ways that the Law Enforcement profession can consume our days, even the ones we have off, it is extra important to take a sec and make sure you're making a life, then making a living.

So! I thought I would put together a fun post with tons of ideas for things to do this summer. Some of the ideas are short activities to cram between work or other duties, some are full weekend ideas. Some of the ideas revolve around kids, some are for couples, and there are a few about food too...who doesn't think food is important right? There are lots of great ideas and I hope at least one fits your lifestyle and interests! As important as the LE profession is, you and your family are more important...so don't forget to live life together! The benefits your family will reap are endless!

Summer Ideas for Families!

  •  Have a picnic! -Instead of eating dinner inside, switch gears and lay a blanket in the backyard and bring your meal outdoors! It's different, it's fun, and it is easy to fit into a busy schedule! Here is a great article and recipe for eating in the backyard as a family!
  • Go on a bike ride!- This is a great activity together because it can be done at any time of day, it encourages conversation, not to mention it gets everyone out of the house for a change of scenery! 
  • Family Yard Day- This might sound like a nightmare for some families, but if you have young children and a lot of yard work to do, remember little ones love to help and working with parents in a fun upbeat way can create a positive attitude for responsibilities! And what better way to talk about how things grow, how we should care for the earth, and the differences of creation and the beauty in it! With a little patience and understanding, working with children can become a really amazing opportunity to witness learning, discovery, and self awareness!  
  • Go to the fair- Most counties host a summer fair and what better way to get the kids out of the house and distracted then with animals, food, and rides!...Maybe your LEO is working your county fair this year! Again, this activity can be done any time of the day and is a wonderful way to interact in a variety of situations. If your LEO is working the fair, maybe you could steal away some time as a family and browse everything together!  Exposing your kiddos to tradition, food sources, and the appreciation of other people's hard work will encourage empathy, respect, and awareness for people other than themselves.
  • Park day with scavenger hunt and picnic- If you have a free day together, head over to the park for some sunshine and fun! Plan for a scavenger hunt, picnic, a game of catch or an afternoon exploring the playground equipment. Here is an easy kid scavenger hunt with free printout and THE best blog for picnic ideas, everything from recipes to ways to pack!
  • Go camping!- One of my favorite memories growing up! There is nothing better than one on one attention with your family. Add s'mores, campfires and staying up late and you have an amazing way to spend a weekend as a family...just make sure to leave the electronic distractions at home, especially the work computer and phone!!! Not sure your kids are ready or need some ideas on how to make it the best trip ever? Visit these blogs for help making your camping trip as a family, memorable. I also find perusing Pinterest super helpful in finding lots of camping ideas and tips!   Super Yummy Easy Recipes  |  13 Tips and Tricks to camping with kids (meal planner, hacks, necessities list and more!)
  • Volunteer- There is probably no better way to teach empathy and compassion to your children (and learn some yourself) then through volunteering. There are so many places that could use your family's help: Animal shelters, The Food Bank, local homeless shelters, Habitat For Humanity, soup kitchens, nursing homes, churches, or maybe a neighbor is in need. No matter where you volunteer, doing something together as a family that helps others will create a special bond!
  • Visit a farmer's market- Another great opportunity to get out in the community and be a family. This activity is wonderful if you have just a sliver of time, or maybe your LEO can meet you for lunch! It's fun to people watch, there is always great food, and lots to look at.
  •  Unplugged game night!- Pick a random day of the week and whether it's in the afternoon or evening, plan yummy snacks and a pile of family games and watch the memories happen! Allow each family member to pick their favorite snack and game. Share in each others
    favorites by preparing the treats together and taking time to play each person's favorite game! The time will melt away as you enjoy each others company! Top Games for Family Game Night  |  35 Game Night Snacks
  • Have a spontaneous day- On scrap pieces of paper, have each person in your family write the name of a place or activity they would like to go/do. Put all the pieces of paper in a bowl and randomly draw for that day's thing to do or place to go. It just might surprise you where someone in your family has been wanting to go! Not only does this involve every member of the family, it also makes your day surprising and special. Go with the flow for the rest of the day and see what happens! 


Yard Games!

  • Build an obstacle course- Perfect for a free afternoon, party or play date! Loads of fun, a great way to get creative juices flowing, and an ideal way to burn off energy!
  • 10 Bean Bag Games for kids- Easy, for any age, and can be done at any time of the day! No mess, easy storage, and can be used indoors too!
  • Yard Twister- Buy red, yellow, blue, and green spray paint. Cut a hole in the bottom of an empty cardboard box. Using the box as your template, spray paint circles onto your lawn in rows of red, yellow, blue, and green, just like the Twister game mat. Let dry. You can use the spinner board from the game to call colors, or have other guests or family members call out random colors. Let the tangled up fun begin! Find the how-to here.
  • Bottle Bowling- Reuse old plastic pop bottles by using them for lawn bowling! You need 10 bottles, either numbered with sharpie or painted ten different colors, and a ball. It's pretty simple. Line them up in a traditional bowling pin pattern and use the ball to knock them over! For info on bowling rules and scoring visit RulesofBowling.com
  • Yard Bananagrams - This nifty tutorial covers how to make your own yard sized letter squares perfect for Bananagrams or Scrabble! Get the rules to these games (BananagramsScrabble).
  • Giant Jenga- Made from 2x4s this is the perfect yard game for any occasion. Plus it's just super fun to play with giant toys, right?
  • Backyard Ker-Plunk- Do you remember the game as a kid where your goal was to pull as many straws as you could out of the bottom of the cylinder without the marbles falling out? This is the mega backyard version and it's a blast!
  • 23 MORE IDEAS!- If the list of ideas above doesn't fit your fancy, this one might! Visit Spaceships and Laser Beams for 23 more yard game ideas!


Crafts & Kid Activities!

  • Make a Bird Feeder- This is a great way to encourage animal stewardship and attract some special winged friends to your yard! Easy, no building required as the feeder is just gelatin and birdseed molded into whatever shape you choose using cookie cutters. So easy and fun! Visit the eighteen25 blog for complete instructions!
  • Garden Crafts- Maybe the idea of a yard day (on the family list above) won't fly at your home. Here is an idea to entertain the kiddos while you spend the day on yard work! Visit Fun Family Crafts for 5 Pages (yes, five!) of easy garden themed craft ideas for kids. Everything from painting rocks for the garden, to homemade watering cans and decorations! You are bound to find something to do!
  • Music Crafts- While you're visiting the Fun Family Crafts blog, check out their huge list of fun music crafts! You can spend any time of the day on one of these easy crafts. Make a family band by choosing a different musical craft for each family member, then throw a concert!
  • Paper Bead Bracelets- An awesome way to reuse old magazines! Visit The 36th Avenue blog for the easy tutorial for making Paper Bead Bracelets. 
  • 90 Ideas for Water Play- Awesome ideas to help beat the heat with water! Simple and super kid friendly!
  • Homemade Windchimes- Easy, fun, and kid friendly! A great way to spend time together outdoors as well as use up old cans from the pantry!
  • Have a Water Fight- Who doesn't love duking it out as a family? Not to mention cooling off in the process! All you need are hoses, super soakers, balloons, and/or sponge balls. (Don't know what a sponge ball is? Check out the link and make one using kitchen sponges!)
  • Summer Science Ideas- 25 awesome and easy science activities for kids!


 Road trips

  • Travel Games for Kids- Maybe your road trip is several hours, maybe it's just for the afternoon, but chances are, if you're traveling with kids, they are going to get bored! Here is a great blog with a list of fun travel games for kids! 
  • Places to See Along the Way Generator- Ok, so you're on a road trip, now what? Using Roadtrippers totally fun generator, enter your location and destination and the program creates a list of place to see along the way! Amazing!!!
  • 25 Road Trip Snacks- Food is one of the most expensive parts of road trips and eating out at restaurants or stopping at gas stations can be annoying when you have a place to get to, not to mention usually unhealthy. This list of snack recipes is genius in a "why didn't I think of that?" sort of way. Trust me, check it out.
  • Road Trip Scavenger Hunt- A huge printable scavenger hunt for road trips. My family lives in a non urban area and if your family does too, this would still be a great building list for your own scavenger hunt! Use it as a starting point to create your own!
  • Take A Day Trip- This is a great way to get out the house and see some new places! Ahead of time, sit down as a family and create a list of places people would like to go. Keep the list handy (or do like we do, and write the list on a chalkboard in the kitchen) so you can grab it up and reference it anytime you get the bug for a short trip. Just don't be afraid to stop along the way and explore!
  • Explore A Road- Our family lives in a rural area and we love to pick a random road and explore it. We have found some of the best scenery, hiking trails, swimming holes, and places exploring this way, not to mention it's totally random and is a great way to learn about new places in your area! Don't live in a rural area? You can still explore a new neighborhood, maybe a part of the countryside you've never been to, or even a stretch of roadway you've never driven. Spontaneity is the key, no matter what kind of road you explore...they always lead you somewhere!


Food Fun

  • Build Your Own Pizza Night- A fun way to spend time together cooking! Make individual pizzas or one awesome pizza with toppings to reflect your family! The secret to a successful pizza night is fun, creativity, and no expectations. It might get messy, it might not turn out, but no matter what, it will be a memory maker! 50 Mouthwatering Pizza Recipes | 10 Healthy Pizza Recipes | Kid Pizza Recipes
  • Campfire & S'mores- Need I say more?
  • Cook With Your Kids- 35 Recipes and ideas for fun as a family in the kitchen!
  • Host A Food Party- I absolutely love this idea! Invite couples to your home to cook together! Everything you need is listed in the linked blog article, including how to set the party up, recipes, party ideas, and how-to's. A great way to bond with other LE couples, people in your neighborhood or church, or meet new friends!
  • Food Crafts- The one time it's ok to play with your food! 10 easy food craft ideas to do with kids!


Couple's Dates

  • The Stolen Date- Only have your LEO's lunch break for time? Grab your favorite dessert from a restaurant or bakery and meet your LEO on a park bench in the park. It's a quiet place to steal some time together, not to mention a little less "public" than a restaurant if your LEO is in uniform.
  • Movie Night- There is nothing more romantic than cuddling up close on the couch. Prepare your favorite snacks, enjoy a cup of tea or an adult beverage, and spend time together in your pj's under a blanket.
  • Date Night Snack-a-Thon- Enjoy a date night at home with your favorite snacks or appetizers. Turn down the lights, put on some romantic music, and spend the evening preparing your favorite munchies. When the cooking is finished, enjoy your food in the middle of the living room on a rug with a pile of pillows. Spend the time in conversation and enjoy the one-on-one attention.
  • Take Dance Lessons- It might sound scary but learning something new together and showing vulnerability can be an awesome bonding experience, not to mention dancing is fun and sexy!
  • Park Date- Enjoy some time together outdoors! Plan an evening picnic complete with blanket and candles. When you're finished eating enjoy an evening stroll or game of catch. The park is a free way to enjoy a long date night out of the house!
  • Downtown Date Day If you have an afternoon together, enjoy it strolling the sidewalks of downtown. Take in the local shops, spend some time on a bench people watching, or have a picnic in the park. Add a fun twist and start a game- require the other person (including you) to eat something they have never tried, try on clothes they would never wear, or do something spontaneous like a flash dance or public declaration. It's bound to create some funny moments you'll both remember!
  • Backyard Camp Out- Who says you have to go to a hotel for a romantic night? Enjoy one under the stars in your own backyard. Best part is, there's guaranteed showers and hot breakfast in the morning, not to mention an easy way to spend a romantic night if your LEO has to work the next morning- you're close to home!
  • Take A Cooking Class- If you both enjoy food and cooking, this is a great way to enjoy a fun evening out of the house. Most classes are inexpensive and are held around the evening hours so you can crunch it in between shifts. Not only is it fun but it's a great way to get a nice meal without the risk of seeing the wrong person at a restaurant. (I think most LE families have been in that spot a time or two!)
  • Games & Drinks (Alcohol Optional)-Maybe your little ones are in bed, or maybe you only have a few hours before shift, either way this is a sure way to enjoy a little entertainment and couple's time. My husband and I love to play Rummy and drink our favorite brews on the back deck when our little one goes to bed. It's an awesome way to enjoy each others company without electronics not to mention bask in the fresh air. Add a little friendly competition and it ends up always being a great time!
  • Take A Walk- This is an easily overlooked way to reconnect as a couple. Whether it's just a walk around the block, or a full on hike on your favorite trail, walking together is a special way to ignite conversation, physical contact (holding hands) and chances to take a breather for a moment. It's a great date to fit in between schedules or responsibilities. Sometimes it's the simplest activities that create the best moments.

I truly hope you found something to do as a family or couple from the list above. I can't stress enough how very important it is to take time as families and partners. Friends come and go, jobs are jobs, and life is always changing...but family is where love and life should always happen. Make sure no matter what the Law Enforcement life throws at you, you always make time for family! They are the most priceless thing in life and deserve the most time and effort you can give!

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