Why You Should Schedule a Family Play Night This Week

By Brandi Koskie - DietsInReview.com

Do you and your family make time to just be together during the week? Whether it's dinner, activities, or events, it's important to make one another a regular part of the schedule. This wouldn't have been a novel idea a few decades ago, but in today's hectic world, it's unfortunately true that we have to pencil in time for our families.

That's why we're encouraging families to dedicate one evening a week to Family Play Night. Have your family get up and move together while getting reacquainted in your own back yard. Or the front yard, or the park, or wherever it is that you want to play!

"Play is a way for families to connect. Children connect and learn primarily through play," says DietsInReview's mental health expert, Brooke Randolph, LMHC. "Play helps build healthy attachment and positive relationships. Families who play together will be healthier, happier, enjoy each other more, and work together more effectively." Brooke adds that "Play helps parents enjoy their children and communicate to children that they are valued beyond their behavior. Play helps everyone relax and recover from stressors." And who doesn't want to enjoy a little lighthearted, calorie-burning stress relief?

Just as research has shown that families who eat dinner together tend to be healthier and more connected, it's true for families who play together, too. That quality time is vitally important to the development of the children, but it also creates a cohesiveness for the family unit. "Being playful is like investing; we get all the benefits back from it, including healthy benefits, relationship benefits and we have more fun," says David R. Cross, PhD., the director of the Developmental Research Lab at TCU. "Laughter, make-believe, and rough-housing are not only fun, but fundamental," he says. By playing as a family, you model for your children the necessity of having an active lifestyle no matter your age. You might be counting calories burned, but to the kids, it's just play time with mom and dad.

Family Play Night doesn't have to be an investment or a grand production, it just has to be time everyone looks forward to each week, where you play together and connect as a family. Give it 30 minutes, an hour, or play until the street lights come on, just make this time a priority when scheduling your week.
If you need a few ideas to get your first Family Play Night scheduled, try one (or some) of these:

Play Tag! Everyone gets a chance to be it, and you can keep it interesting by trying different versions, like freeze tag or flag tag.

Play Volleyball! Setting up a net in the backyard will make it easier to walk out the back door and start serving.

Play Bocce! This classic game can be played by your youngest and oldest family members, in the back yard or at the park.

Play Ball! Choose any ball - baseball, softball, soccer, or basketball - and have fun with a friendly competition of boys versus girls, or kids versus parents.

Play Dance! Crank up the tunes and start shaking those booties! In PJs or everyone's best dress-up garb, you can hold your own at-home DWTS competition.

Play Hide and Seek! Indoors or out, this game keeps everyone involved and even a little on edge.

Play Wii! Video games aren't just for couch potatoes any more. Bowling, boxing or even a high-intensity fitness bootcamp can all be played together.

Read more about enjoying a fit and fun summer at DietsInReview.com:

5 Ways to Keep You and Your Kids Active This Summer

The Healthiest Family-Friendly Vacation Spots

10 Healthy Summer Recipes for Kids