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24 July 2020

Family Leisure and Recreation: Why This is Important for Families

Leisure time is an integral part of family functioning, relationship functioning, and personal well-being. It provides families and couples opportunities to build bonds, feel a sense of solidarity, and create a sense of stability and cohesion. Leisure time and recreation is especially important for military families due to experiencing additional life stressors such as frequent relocations and deployments. Some family leisure and recreation activity ideas are included below, but what is most important is setting aside intentional time together as a family. Family functioning (i.e., cohesion, flexibility, communication, and satisfaction) may improve by spending time participating in leisure and recreation activities as a family.

High-quality family leisure does not look like every family member sitting in the same room scrolling on their phones. Instead some cost-effective ways to participate in leisure activities as a family are incorporating simple, daily activities in your family routine such as watching television together, taking family walks, or working on home projects like yardwork or painting a room. Daily leisure activities like these have shown to be beneficial in increasing couple cohesion (i.e., the connection between partners including how well a couple functions) which may impact relationship satisfaction. A final way to incorporate leisure activities into your family routine is to plan family events together such as an annual or bi-annual family vacation, an outdoor trip such as camping, or an overnight white-water rafting trip. Activities like these allow family members to focus on one another without as many outside distractions such as technology, children’s extracurricular events, and household responsibilities.

The main goal of family leisure and recreation activities is to facilitate opportunities for families to create meaningful connections and happy memories with one another. Whether your family decides to incorporate more of these activities into your daily routine or wants to take it a step further and plan a family trip, you can’t go wrong if everyone is together and working toward the common goal of connecting with one another!

Here are some more family leisure/recreation activities that your family might enjoy:

Daily Family Activities Larger Family Activities Other Recreation Activities
  • Going for a family bike ride
  • Taking a family walk
  • Watching a movie or television show
  • Playing a sport (e.g., basketball, kickball, baseball, tennis)
  • Playing cards or a board game
  • Completing a puzzle
  • Asking open ended questions like “what did you learn today?” or “what was your favorite part of today?” are great ways to facilitate conversations within the family
  • Taking a family trip/vacation
  • Going camping
  • Going white-water rafting
  • Taking a skiing trip
  • Going on an overnight hiking/survival trip in the mountains
  • Going to the beach
  • Going on a road trip and making extra stops along the way to fun sights/experiences
  • Hiking
  • Bowling
  • Roller/ice skating
  • Swimming
  • Going to the zoo or aquarium
  • Going on a picnic
  • Horseback riding
  • Go putt-putt golfing
  • Building a family garden and grow vegetables together
  • Team building activities (e.g., ropes course, group games)

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