Life, in and of itself, is hectic. But add a few kids, a couple of careers, some extracurricular activities, deadlines, business trips, nutritious meal planning, and, well, “hectic” becomes “utter chaos.”

But “utter chaos” is not the ideal environment for quality family bonding time.

Squeezing in the time to foster deeper relationships with your children is proven to increase their happiness, improve their academic performance and encourage them to avoid risky behaviors, such as bullying or drug use. Here are a few family therapeutic activities that are fun (like, actually fun), won’t feel like forced bonding, and that will help your family create memories that will last a lifetime.

1. Keeping up with the not-Kardashians: Film your very own reality TV show, bringing together as many relatives as possible – from kids to grandparents and everything in between. Watch hilarity ensue as family members film their own “confessionals.” Take the opportunity to gauge the strengths and weaknesses of your interfamilial relationships, and see your family dynamic unfold from an oddly subjective perspective. Bonus: let those tech savvy teens edit the footage down into TV-worthy snippets, perfect for looking back on over and over again.

2. Establish your very own family holiday: Every family has that one special thing that pulls them together, no matter how high tensions are running. Whatever that thing is for your family, pick a date and make it an annual holiday. Homemade Pizza Day. Reach the Summit of a Mountain Day. Basket Weaving Day. Celebrating a family holiday is an opportunity to jam-pack a day with unique traditions that honor the members of your clan.

3. Help out someone else’s family: Volunteer at a homeless shelter, a battered woman’s shelter, your local food pantry, church or animal rescue organization (hey, we didn’t say the other family had to human). Banding together, one family helping another, is a way to do good, feel good, and create a good, strong bond between you and your children. It’s also a great way to teach your children a valuable lesson about gratitude.

4. Plant a garden, and cook from it: Everyone in the family can play a role in making a garden grow. From picking out what to grow, to pulling weeds, watering plants, and plucking the fresh-grown fruits and veggies from the vines, everyone will feel a sense of accomplishment and togetherness. Get even more creative, and turn it into a cook-off. Challenge teams (girls vs. boys, parents vs. kids, etc.) to cook the most delicious meal with your garden-fresh ingredients and enjoy a memorable family-farm-to-table experience.

5. Let the kids plan a staycation: Parents are always doing all the planning, and the kids tend to do all the complaining. I don’t wanna go for a hike! The playground is for babies!! No one from school better see me at the museum! For an activity that is sure to please, let them pick it! Give them a budget and let them plan a weekend staycation. They want to camp? White water raft? Go climbing at the indoor gym? See the botanical gardens? The answer is yes, as long as it’s safe and within the budget and timeframe you afford them. Bonus, you get a break fro the planning. Double bonus, the kids will be super invested and engaged with every memory-making moment of the trip!

In addition to these larger-scale family therapeutic activities, there are plenty of small, daily activities you should make a point to add to your routines. Dinner (sans TV and iPads) at the kitchen table, read together (to each other, or just side by side), take a walk, play a game, or make something, and always – always! – hug and tell your kids you love them.

contact creative counseling center

If you feel you need more than family therapeutic activities to pull your family together, we offer some of Denver’s best family therapy services right here at Creative Counseling Center. We are happy to offer a free consultation to any family in need of therapy. Please complete the brief form below and we’ll connect you with the therapist we feel meets your needs best.