Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, families looked forward to stepping away from work and other responsibilities to spend quality time with one another. Maybe they would go to the movies, take a trip to an amusement park, or go out to dinner and get ice cream on the way home. However, after months of being stuck inside together, families might not like the sound of spending another day together—in the same room, doing the same thing.

But American Family Day is just around the corner, which is all about spending time with those we love the most. Fortunately, we have some ideas that will help you enjoy American Family Day with your family members without getting on each other’s nerves (even more than you have already).

American Family Day: What is it?

American Family Day, the first Sunday in August, is a day intended for people to spend uninterrupted family time together. As it is easy to get caught up in the everyday swing of things, it is important to take a step back and appreciate all of the things we have and can do because of our loved ones. Connecting with those who mean the most to us is a special privilege. This year, though, it may feel a little harder to do so.

Tension may be running high in your home because of the “forced” quality time that has been pushed on you during COVID-19. Although you and your family members may be feeling a little tired of each other by now, it is still important to recognize everything you do for each other and slow down to appreciate the little things. Think of it this way: after weeks, months, even years of crazy schedules and hoping for a way to slow down and reconnect, you now have the chance to.

Activities to Enjoy with the Whole Family During Quarantine

Good, quality family time can help you and your loved ones experience overall better emotional wellbeing. It helps families strengthen their bond, relieve outside stressors, and adapt in new situations as a unit. In addition to those benefits, quality time can also greatly decrease behavioral problems in children when they see their parents, siblings, and extended family getting along and enjoying one another, as children are less likely to act out in a happy, healthy environment.

Some additional benefits of quality time include better communication, positive behaviors, stronger bonds, and higher self-esteem. On that note, here are some different activities you can try out for this year’s American Family Day, which will allow you to have fun and stay safe at the same time:

1. Go for a hike, walk, or bike ride. 

Physical activities have a lot of great benefits for not only our physical health, but our mental health as well. By getting your family up and outside for a walk, hike, or bike ride, you are allowing yourselves the chance to get some fresh air, exercise, and family bonding all in one. Chances are, you and everyone else in your house have been sitting a lot more than usual. By partaking in one of these activities, you are also moving the muscles that have been stagnant for the past few months.

During your outing, try to engage in meaningful conversation. Ask each other questions other than, “how was your day?” Dig a little deeper and connect on a deeper level. Try some of these:

  • What is one of your favorite memories from the past few months?
  • What are you looking forward to the most once it is safe to return back to normal?
  • Is there anything we have started doing in quarantine that you would like to continue doing even after quarantine?

2. Learn a new recipe and cook it together.

Cooking together can be a bonding experience for families. It gives you all the chance to work together and create something from scratch. Plus, a home cooked meal is an added bonus. This American Family Day, you can sit down together as a group and come up with a brand-new meal that everyone is excited to try. Maybe mom and dad pick the protein, siblings pick the sides, and grandma chooses dessert. Not only are you able to sit down and work together to come up with something amazing, you get to make it together, too.

Think back to your childhood. Do you have a fond memory of a mealtime with your parents or grandparents? Maybe you can faintly smell the strawberry pie you had all of those years ago. Cooking with your family can create lifelong memories for both you, your kids, and other family members, too. This can also be a great time for you all to share and talk about life, deepening your bond and feelings of togetherness.

3. Have a game night with old and new board games alike.

Surprising your loved ones with a game night could be all of the excitement you need for the night. Board games give us quality, face-to-face interactions. They also help create a foundation for trust and positive communication skills. Playing games can go beyond just American Family Day. Maybe you decide to make game night a monthly, even weekly, tradition. Creating those memories and spending quality time together will make lasting memories for everyone.

Try a mix of classic and new board games on game night, like:

  1. Clue: A family favorite that encourages you to work together.
  2. Monopoly: Although Monopoly is known for being a long game, it is great at building communication skills and, for younger ones, how to count money and learn what value means.
  3. Battleship: This strategy game is good for people of all ages and promotes patience.
  4. Jenga: Jenga is a fun game that involves suspense and lots of laughter. It comes in all different sizes now—you can get the classic size or even upgrade to a large yard version.
  5. Spontuneous: A newer game, Spontuneous is similar to games like charades but instead of acting, you have to sing or shout. Not only does it help you build confidence, but it allows you to get goofy with your loved ones.

Make game night even more exciting by laying out a spread of yummy treats, putting on a fun playlist, and maybe even taking game night outside. Soon enough, you and your family will have a new family tradition to look forward to.

We understand how tough it has been over these past few months. However, we should take this rare opportunity to appreciate the extended time we get to spend together. This year, American Family Day serves as a reminder to slow down, reconnect, and make memories with the ones we love the most.