10 Meaningful Activities to Do with Your Children

We have a challenge for you. Keep track of how much you use the word “fun” when it comes to activities with your kids versus the word “meaningful” or “significant.” It’s easy to do things that are fun with your children. But we also need to season their activities with meaning – helping an elderly neighbor, taking food to a single mom, or visiting your childhood home.

These are the memories that last a lifetime. And they can be fun in their own way. Enlightenment, not entertainment, is the ultimate goal of this family time. Just in case you’re stuck getting the ball rolling, here are 10 meaningful activities to try:

1. Movie with a twist: We all complain when the teacher at school throws on a movie for an excuse to wile away some time. So why turn around and do the same thing at home? Find a good book that spawned a good movie, and then read it together as a family over the course of a week. The movie and popcorn should make a fun finale and kick off some interesting discussion.

2. Plan a family event: This could be big (the annual vacation) or small (a dinner party for the grandparents). The point of the event is sharing responsibility…menu, activities, invitations, place-settings, whatever! The possibilities are limitless, and the opportunity for family unity is huge.

3. Neighborhood cleanup: Invest a couple of hours together picking up trash within a quarter-mile radius of your house.

4. Organize a neighborhood event: Take the cleanup a step further, or pull together a block party…maybe even a neighborhood walk for charity (local hunger, the Boys & Girls Club, etc). Get organized, divvy up the tasks, and let your kids take the lead. Accomplishing something together (big or small) is a family unity rush.

5. Plant a vegetable or an herb garden: Research, construction, maintenance, science, responsibility, and participation in a special activity enriches the entire family. This could lead to organic awareness, or even cooking what you’ve grown together!

6. Take a dog-training class together: Obviously, a dog is a prerequisite.

7. One-Tank Trips: Act like tourists in your own region. Get a book or leaflet describing places worth checking out around your neck of the woods. Take turns picking a favorite and do one a week over breaks from school.

8. Remodel their rooms: This isn’t as daunting as it sounds. All you need is paint, garbage bags and an imagination. Empty the room completely (together), get rid of as much as possible (together), paint a color your child loves (together), and rebuild the room (together) like it’s brand new. This could include shopping with a modest budget at thrift and antique stores (together).

9. Arrange for a guided tour at a local museum or historic site: The point here is to be on the same learning curve as your kids. Get excited about local history, or art, or science.

10. Plan an imaginary road trip: Here’s how this works. Define the limits (time, cost, reality vs. fantasy, etc.), set up around the table and brainstorm (all ideas are acceptable) then write out the plan. Because it’s not actually happening, it’s a safe way to get inside everyone’s dreams. Who knows, you may end up taking the trip!

Next month we will do something meaningful together as a family by…