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By Valorie Valencia

How to enjoy your family without television

While it’s always easy to kick your feet up and stare at the television with everyone else splayed on the couch nearby, many other activities are enjoyable–and more involving–for a family.

Board games

These range in difficulty from something simple, like “Candyland,” to strategically demanding, like “Risk.” There’s no better way to boost a little friendly competition and get everyone laughing (or yelling, if the game gets intense) than with a good board game.

Video games

Multiplayer games are a hybrid between watching TV and playing a classic board game. “Mario Party” is a good choice for families. It involves many of Nintendo’s face characters, who can be used to play competitive mini-games or participate in a virtual version of a standard board game. Parents who try it will soon understand why their teens spend so much time furiously moving their thumbs over the controllers. Most kids are happy for a role reversal where they get to be the knowledgeable one.

The park

The park is a great place to get everyone moving and take in some fresh air. Grab a Frisbee or football to toss around, take your dog for a walk or simply stroll around the perimeter. Bring drinks, snacks or sandwiches for an instant picnic.


This can get messy, but learning to cook is a great experience for children and can help promote teamwork. Experiment with different ingredients to see who can make the best tasting smoothie. Bake cupcakes and let everyone get creative decorating them with icing. The best part: You can all sit around the table and enjoy eating what you made, afterward.


Most kids love to make things with their hands and will be curious about doing something new, whether it’s sewing or painting or making jewelry. Use materials you already have around the house or look for starter kits that contain all the needed supplies, and directions for projects, in art-supply stores.

Family book club

Getting everyone in the family to read and discuss the same book can be fun. Not only does reading benefit the mind by improving vocabulary and communication skills, but it also can be cool to see how many different insights other people pull from the same book. Talking about what you read helps you to get to know each other better and can set the foundations for some great life lessons. Take a trip to the library or bookstore and find something you can all commit to.

Just talk

Unfortunately, conversation in some families is becoming a lost art, as people get absorbed in TV screens and smartphones and forget about simply talking to each other. Tuning in by talking and listening can do wonders for the familial relationship, whether the subjects are hugely important or as small as talking about your day. The emotional satisfaction of connecting in this way makes it one of the most enjoyable activities you can do together. It’s free and it can be done anywhere, even during one of the activities above!

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