multi-generational family of grandparents, father and children happily playing outdoors

7 Ways Play Can Bring Everyone Together

  • Benefits for Children

    • Learn new ideas: The ideas, interests and habits a child learns from their grandparents are likely to stick around and inform their worldview as they grow into adults.

    Benefits for Parents

    • Increased support: Having another adult around who can share stories and give advice can ease some of the pressure that comes along with being a parent.

    Benefits for Older Adults

    • Vitality: Older adults who interact with children typically have better physical health, higher satisfaction with life and a lower occurrence of depression.

When I was young and spent the summers with my grandparents, we took full advantage of the long, sun-filled days to play outside as much as possible. We enjoyed games like badminton, soccer, and tag. And we indulged in other ways to play, like doing yoga on the grass, and spending afternoons at the beach. In the winter, we stayed indoors more often and colored, put together puzzles, told jokes, sang, cooked food, and lots more. No matter the season, there are plenty of ways to play and have lots of fun as a family.

One of the best ways to bring family together is through play. Everybody loves to have fun, yet not everyone has enough of it. Play is an opportunity to let go of the weight of stress, feel joyful, and live in the moment. In children, play is essential in the development of gross motor skills, cognitive flexibility, emotional harmony, and teamwork abilities.

The more you play, the more you nurture your creativity and the more ideas you’ll have. As Carl Jung said, “The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect, but by the play instinct.”

Whether it’s a well-loved board game or an outdoor battle of tug of war, playing together brings people closer, decreases stress, and is an instant mood booster. It’s the perfect way to nurture closeness and get lost in the moment. A list of activity ideas that everyone can take part in is good to have handy. These activities can lighten the mood and help everyone to feel more creative and have fun.

Here are some fun and simple activities anyone can bring to the table and enjoy just about anywhere:

  • Draw. Give everyone a piece of paper and a pencil. Draw each other as best as you can. Try a caricature. When we do this, we like to draw ourselves as superheroes! It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece, just fun. Keep the drawings as a fun souvenir of the moment together.

  • Bake or cook a meal together. Being in the kitchen together is a wonderful way to connect, share stories, and reminisce about past moments that brought great joy. Bring out a favorite family recipe or embrace your curiosity and try something new.

  • Take a walk outside in nature. Enjoy a quiet walk in the woods or at a park. Nature is where the best conversations happen. Notice the surrounding wildlife. Stop and smell the flowers. Nature is the perfect backdrop to connect with each other.

  • Turn up the music! A perfect mood lightener, karaoke is fun for all ages. Grab the mic, put on your favorite song, and get ready to have lots of laughs together. Take it up a notch and invite everyone to dress up as a famous singer.

  • Picnic. Eat a meal outside—in your backyard, a park, or beach. A picnic is an easy way to change up the daily routine of breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

  • Ride bikes. Lead a family bike tour of your neighborhood or city. You get to notice much more about your surroundings when you’re taking in the views from a bike. If there aren’t enough bikes for everyone, search for a bike rental service near you and make a day out of sight-seeing on wheels.

  • Make art together. Paint a shared canvas. Use any colors you want. Do something out of the ordinary. What unique piece can you co-create? No rules. Just go for it.

Time is the most valuable thing we all have. Being present and giving one another our time and attention is the foundation to building strong, lasting relationships. These moments together also build trust, improve social skills, and increase self-confidence.

Distance may separate many families and people aren’t able to get together as much as they’d like. It’s important that when families living far apart can be together in person, that play, in some form, is part of the plan. Instead of watching TV together, for example, choose to play and get to know each other better.

Play has the ability to create memories. You’ll always remember the moments you played together.


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