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(Family Features) - With soccer practice, piano lessons, friends, homework, tests and more, there are countless activities that compete for time on the family calendar. With thoughtful planning, you can be sure that fun family time gets penciled in, too.
Karen Deerwester, family expert and author of "The Entitlement-Free Child: Raising Confident and Responsible Kids in a 'Me, Mine, Now!' Culture," highlights the importance of scheduling family time. "Unite the family in the art of fun by planning weekly activities together!" Deerwester says. "When you do, you give your family the most precious gift of all - time together to laugh, enjoy one another and stay connected."
Family time can serve as an escape from the demands and deadlines of life. It is an opportunity to make memories together based on fun and laughter. Depending on schedules and ages, there are many ways to get your family started.
Whether eating takeout or making a home-cooked dinner, bring your family together at mealtime. Sit at the table together and talk about the events of the day, the last vacation you shared or a favorite home video. Making meals an event at home creates an occasion for families to bond over everyday responsibilities.
When in the car with your children, don't be drowned out by the radio or headphones. Keep the dial turned off and initiate conversations about school, friends, recent accomplishments or daily challenges. Your child will feel comfortable talking to you and will look forward to this special travel time together.
Board games and puzzles are another way to bring together family members of all ages for moments of fun. The effort to spend merely 30 minutes playing games will be richly rewarded as playing board games together strengthens family relationships, sparks conversations and brings everyone together in silliness and laughter.
For the word fans in the family, try Scrabble Flash, a new game that pits players against the clock to build as many three-to-five letter words as possible. Five tiles each display a letter and recognize formed words with WonderLink technology. It's perfect for a moment of fun and excitement. Another updated classic, Sorry! Spin, unites the family with a new way to play the game of sweet revenge. This edition features a rotating game board which makes getting "Home" more unpredictable and fun than ever before, and engages players on every move, making it anyone's game to win.
"Family Game Night builds powerful family connections and creates a family identity based on fun, laughter, shared interests and individual strengths," Deerwester says. "This is the time to tell the kids that you really want to spend time with them to simply have fun!"
Make sure building a relationship as a family doesn't take the backseat this school year and schedule time for your family. Your children will thank you for it.