When you recognize how important building relationships, memories and connections with your loved ones, you will be glad to read some suggestions. When you and your family engage in outdoor activities you are strengthening muscles as well as memories.

Time to Make Memories is Now

Don't worry if you have a stack of bills, taxes that need to be done, housework that is piling up, a million things to do and stress about earning money. All those concerns will still be there after the kids go to bed, but you will be renewed and ready to tackle old problems with creative energy.

Guide Play but Don't Direct it

The best fun is spontaeous with everyone having a good time. So relax and let the good times roll with a few, free, fun activities that won't cost you anything but a some time.  Investing this time is going to pay big rewards in cooperative, loyal and kind children who know their parents loved them enough to put aside their other concerns for a little while and concentrate on them.

1.  Water, water everywhere!  what one word best sums up summer fun? Water.
Do you remember getting wet, running through the sprinker when the sun was beating down?  Have some fun with the kids using water. Skip rocks across the lake. Fish at the pond. Wade in the river.  Dip your toes in the ocean. Access your community pool on free days. Chase each other with the hose.

2.  Go fly a kite.  Make your own kites from newspapers or tissue paper glued to thin strips of wood. Pick up some kites at garage sales for free or 5 cents. Untangle the line and they are as good as new.  Kites teach many life lessons when you talk about how life may be a little bumpy, but no matter how far you go into the world  you are still tied to a family who love you.

3. Nature Journal.  Most of us are surrounded by far more in the animal and plant kingdoms that we recognize and acknowledge.  Why not encourage your child to keep track of all the "critters" he sees.  Perhaps he may want to save some of the leaves (not Poison Ivy, thank you) by pressing them in a big book and then writing about where he saw them.  This activitiy really sharpens observation skills and helps them to develp interests in other living things.

4.  Treasure Maps and Hidden Bounty

Depending on the age and ability of family members, you can use one treasure mapthat everyone follows or as one family does; Cut the map into puzzle pieces and have the participants find the pieces and then find the treasure.  What is the treasure?  What does your family love and treasure? Ice cream, rent a movie, a favorite dinner or story, a water fight in the front yard, camp out overnight? Figure out their "happy buttons" and you know what they will regard as treasure.

5. Sleep Under the Stars

For one night forget about clean sheets and a shower before bed.  Instead arrange sleeping bags or blankets on the grass and prepare to be dazzled by the stars.  it is amazing how many confidences are shared when it is dark ouside, but you are lying next to someone who cares about you. No matter how much your back hurts, you can do it for one night and your kids will never forget it.

Good luck in building memories and healthy, self confident kids.  You do such an important work (and I don't mean the stuff you get paid money for.)  Having a good time with your family is vitally important to build connections and strenghten relationships. Recreate or re-create with your family on a regular basis.  It doesn't need to cost anything but time and the rewards are priceless.

With Love and Appreciation,

Judy H. Wright aka Auntie Artichoke, family relationship coach and author

5 Free Family Fun Things to do This Summer