The Family that Plays Together

Fourteen years ago my husband and I made the decision to homeschool.  One of the main reasons we made this choice was because we wanted to have meaningful relationships with our children.

A Valued Commodity: Time

We know that in order to have the strong relationship we want with each of our children, and to nurture the strong relationship we want each child to have with his siblings means that we must create the time. Learning at home has offered us that valued commodity.

We spend hours together–before, during, and after our studies.

We’ve also tried to intentionally set aside time to just play with our children. Making this a priority has given us opportunities to watch our children’s different personalities all interacting within the family unit.

Photo by Loving Legacy Photography

Here are some ways we play together as a family:

1.  Take weekend nature hikes.

When the weather is nice, we put on comfy shoes and explore.  Sometimes we journal.  Other times we photograph.  Mostly we just enjoy the day together asking and answering questions.  Sometimes we bring our identification books and magnifying glasses.

2.  Cook a meal together.

We all like to pitch in and create a gourmet-ish meal.  Sure, the kitchen gets crowded. But as long as I keep a good attitude and give everyone a job then spirits stay high.

No job is too small when making a meal together. Even the littles help crack eggs and set the table.

3.  Play a board game.

Game night is a big hit around here.  Our favorites vary from month to month.  Sometimes I want to skip a game night because I’m exhausted, but after I press on it is always worth it.

The laughter that comes from playing games together is priceless.

4.  Spend some mother/daughter time or father/son time.

We have “Sisters’ night” and “Man’s country” in our house every Monday evening.

The boys challenge each other to video game tournaments or Survivor-type dares.  The girls paint nails, do handicrafts, write letters and watch chic flicks.

5.  Do something creative together.

All of our children enjoy art so we started a family art night.  We draw and make collages.  We also critique each other’s work and host an occasional art show.

6.  Do a project.

It doesn’t have to be a massive effort–just something that allows everyone to pitch in and add to the family’s quality of life.  We’ve cleaned up the yard, painted rooms, and built a chicken coop.

When we work together, we make the most of everyone’s strengths. We feel accomplished and proud when the project is done.

Photo by Loving Legacy Photography

We are a close-knit family.  The trees are now bearing fruit and it is sweet to the taste.  We’ve always put family first, committing little to outside activities.  Every evening is priceless, and we rarely give up more then one night a week for anything outside the home.

I don’t spend my time driving to multiple extracurricular activities–I would rather be capturing my children’s hearts at home. My time with them is more then most, yet so small compared to the rest of their lives.

My 13-year-old doesn’t hate me; he confides in me. My 11-year-old shares his dreams and asks me for advice.  My eight-year-old….give him a few years and he’ll pull through!  There’s always a work in progress, but he snuggles with me before bed, kisses my forehead and tells me he loves me.

What’s most important is that we’re together.

And when they leave home my hope is that the memories I’ve planted and the relationships that have been built will carry them securely into adulthood.

How does your family make time together a priority?


  1. That was a beautiful post. I just wanted to thank you for that. I am preparing to homeschool my kids (3 years and 20 months are my current kids and I co-op homeschool my 3 year old right now). I get discouraged sometimes when he has bad days where we need breaks from each other, but I know that spending time with him with help more in the long run than sending him off to a school (especially when I hear my friends tell me about kindergarten now having 30 kids in a class. The kids would get less attention. Thank you for this post. Keep it up. 🙂

    • Thank you Sarah. It’s been hard sometimes, because we have never done things like the rest of the crowd as far as raising our family and a lot of friends and family haven’t understood certain decisions. But, I’m honestly telling you that consistency and spending time together has been what keeps us coming back to each other.

  2. Your family and lifestyle sound lovely! I hope to be a family that plays together as well. Thank you for the encouragement to “press on” even when you’re tired. Beautiful blog, too! – Michelle
    .-= SomeGirl’s last blog: I’m Here to Provoke Thoughts Today =-.

  3. Lovely photos 🙂 I love how close our family is, too, and homeschooling is a big part of that. Sometimes that means we get on each others’ nerves, but it is so worth it. Beautiful post!
    .-= Angela @ Homegrown Mom’s last blog: Family Fun Night Link-Up! =-.

    • Oh yes, Angela. We get on each other’s nerves too, but we take the time to work it out because we have the time to work it out.

      My friend took the photos of us, by the way!

  4. What a beautiful and inspiring post!
    .-= Kami@Nurturing the tender years’s last blog: Sticker books for fun reading practice =-.

  5. What a great post – love the photographs love the words… We found slowing down really got us together. I realized that if I wanted my kids to grow up to be best friends or just friends they needed to spend hours and hours together. Nothing keeps me close to friends better than time spent together. So I couldn’t send my kids off in a million directions everyday, just to be home in time for dinner and bed… For us there is nothing better than lounging round with everyone reading their own books in a book puddle!!!!
    Hope you have a great weekend!!!

    • We’re planning on having a great weekend. We’ve been sick for two weeks and we are looking forward to a healthy weekend. : )

      A lot of people ask me about sibling rivalry within our five children. For the most part, they are like best friends. There are two boys that butt heads right now, but we’re working on figuring out how to get them to work together. I understand it’s tough being around the same people everyday. But, what a learning experience!

  6. What a great post! Thanks for sharing!
    I see daily the difference home education makes in relationships. Our oldest was only homeschooled briefly (~3 years total) and our relationship with him is not nearly as close as with our younger two children who have always been home with us. It isn’t a bad relationship – just different and not as tight as I would like. Homeschooling is such an amazing gift… in so many ways.
    .-= Deb’s last blog: Life is hard for everyone =-.

  7. I love this!!! LOOOOVE. We try to do the same things around here. I think it builds so much trust and character. My boys love to help clean and do laundry so we do that together. Its sort of hilarious so I get a huge kick out of it. I retweeted. I adore this, I can see myself coming back to this one. Its SOOO how I think.
    .-= Jana’s last blog: Stunt Driver =-.

  8. Brenda, beautiful reminder! Time is so precious, so desired, so elusive. When my little men are raising children of their own, I pray they bring them to Grandma’s…. often… because they savor the memories we have created and want to create them anew in the hearts of the next generation! Thanks so much! 🙂
    .-= Susan’s last blog: Choosing Rejection =-.

  9. I love this! This is how I want my family to be someday when I have kids 🙂
    .-= Blayne’s last blog: Over the Hill Frame =-.

  10. Catherine says:

    We don’t homeschool and our kids (we have four) choose to participate in a variety of extracurriular activities. And yet…we are closer than many families we know. We do all of the things on your list. We take trips and have adventures together. We go everywhere together as a family, as a unit. The dance recital, the soccer game, art night at school…whatever the event, we all go and support whichever kid is on display. The kids know that our family comes before anything else. Our three boys share a bedroom, and when we go on vacations and have extra bedrooms, they refuse to be split up! All three of them will pile in together even if the space is tiny. I am an only child and helping my kids develop close relationships with their siblings is a huge priority for me. It makes me so happy to see our efforts (and it is a conscious effort) paying off!

    • Catherine,
      You said, ” The dance recital, the soccer game, art night at school…whatever the event, we all go and support whichever kid is on display.”

      That is exactly why it works! Awesome. I’m so glad that your efforts are paying off, too.

  11. This is a great post. The first picture made me smile. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I long to be a close family. Its hard when we had a really rough start to our marriage, I believe because I grew up in a broken home that warped my idea of what family and marriage is all about. Now I have learned and am putting the work in…but wow is it a lot of work! A lot of work but also a lot of reward for that work. Nothing worthwhile seems to come about the easy way. It shows that your family closeness comes from sticking to your beliefs and working hard at daily life together. We’re oddballs too, in the way we do things…but I don’t want that to get in the way. I want to enjoy my family and have that sort of joy that I see here. Even in tough times, I want to have it.

    • Nola,
      Both my husband and I grew up in broken/remarried homes and a lot of our core beliefs stem from not wanting to repeat the cycle. It’s HARD, but the consistency and the time we have put in has started paying us back ten fold. Take hold of the moments! Take hold of joy. Thanks for commenting.

  12. We try to do a lot of the same things that you listed. My husband has a four day 10 hour work week so he gets one day off a week and we try to spend the whole day together. Whether we go out and about or just stay in playing games and reading books. It’s been great homeschooling. I love that my kids feel they can come talk to my husband and I about everything.
    .-= Rana’s last blog: First signs of Spring!!! =-.

  13. Thanks so much for the wonderful post! My husband and I just decided that we are going to homeschool my daughter who starts Kindergarten next year(I also have a 3 yo and 1 yo). I’m looking forward to the time spent together even though at the same time I am overwhelmed with starting. But I want our family to be close and I think homeschooling will bring us even closer. Thanks again!
    .-= Sam’s last blog: Simple Living Giveaways =-.

  14. Brenda…I love this! I often feel like I’m “bucking the system” because I prefer to spend time at home with my family. We have moved a lot the past 5 years (4 states), and as a result don’t have many close friends where we live, so we depend on each other as a family.

    We go on hikes every weekend…rain or shine, snow or sun. It’s amazing family time. We also love music in our house and we spend time giving each other concerts (violin) or singing along with daddy as he plays drums.

    Great ideas here…thanks for sharing!
    .-= Jill Foley’s last blog: #163 – Haircut =-.

  15. Oh Brenda – I love this! I have already been passing this link on all day and just realized I haven’t even commented. Thank you for this. Thank you for living it, believing it’s possible and encouraging us to not let it go.
    .-= Misha’s last blog: Sparkling Jewels: Thoughts On Justice, Grieving And Choices In Loss =-.

  16. Brenda, I’ve been meaning to comment all week and will now add my 2 cents to all the comments here.

    I love so much of what you said Brenda, “I don’t spend my time driving to multiple extracurricular activities–I would rather be capturing my children’s hearts at home. My time with them is more then most, yet so small compared to the rest of their lives.” Couldn’t agree more.

    Sometimes it’s reassuring knowing there are other parents building relationship with their children each and every day and not just shuttling them to activities.

    We make time together a huge priority in our life. We have one day a week hiking, like Jill’s family, regardless the weather. My husband wrote about how me make that happen here, One Day a Week.

    Our evenings are set aside for family inspiration, lead again by Dad. This could be reading out loud together, playing games, or something else that my husband is inspired to do with the children.

    Our days are spent homeschooling & living together. Making meals, eating meals, running errands, doing crafts, reading aloud – living. But all of it together.

    Renee’s last blog post: This week of Homeschool.

  17. Beautiful post. You have such a happy-looking family.
    .-= sarah in the woods’s last blog: St. Patrick’s Day Fun AND Our New Chicks =-.

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