August is National Family Fun Month. It acts as a great reminder to enjoy some time with your kiddos before they return to school. Don’t have kids? It’s still a great time to create and plan fun with extended family members, whether it’s with your birth family, adoptive family or family of choice.

Family fun can be effortless or stressful, expensive or free, and planned or spontaneous, and there are pros and cons to each. You will want to decide what works best for your family so you can start strengthening your relationships and creating lasting memories.

Sometimes, the best family fun can be spontaneous and free, such as tossing a ball around in the backyard, playing a board game, wrestling on the living room floor or watching a movie together at home. When your attention is focused on family fun, your creativity will kick in and you’ll be surprised with what you can create.

Sometimes family fun requires planning. This can be free, expensive or anywhere in between. One of the hardest parts of planned family fun time is that not everyone in the family finds the same things fun. This can cause conflict and hard feelings. When you spend a lot of money on family fun, like a family vacation, you want to make sure it is an enjoyable time for all. Finding a location or activity everyone feels excited about can be challenging.

Something I recommend is deciding on the location first. If the location doesn’t excite everyone, then those who are less than enthusiastic know that they will get to choose the location next time. Once the location is chosen, encourage everyone to explore the fun activities available in that place. You can then structure your fun time by allowing every person to experience their numberone pick. This also allows them to participate in the other activities they didn’t choose, because they know their turn is coming.

Another way to make family fun more enjoyable for someone who isn’t looking forward to the event is to allow them to invite a friend along. Having someone to share in the activity often ramps up the fun value.

Never underestimate the value of 15 minutes. If you have a spare 15 minutes, that is enough time to spend uninterrupted quality time with a family member who lives with you. Quality time involves sharing something both of you enjoy—some examples of what it could be are playing a video game, reading a story, doing a quick craft, baking something together or even helping with a dreaded chore. The possibilities are endless; the idea is to make a one-on-one positive connection with lasting effects.

August as National Family Fun Month is a reminder that summer vacation is ending and your kiddos will be back in school soon. However, it isn’t just for kiddos, and family fun needs to happen throughout the year.

I mentioned at the beginning of this article that family fun could be stressful or effortless. One of the things making it stressful is expectations. When you become flexible enough to embrace whatever happens during togetherness with loved ones, it will become much more effortless. Be open to changes in plans. Understand there may be tense moments. But when the focus is on being together and having fun regardless of the circumstances, you may be able to laugh yourself through the challenging parts and appreciate those people you call family. Enjoy!

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