Starhouse FamilyOne of the biggest resolutions we’re seeing this year is a commitment to spend more quality time with family.

The reality is that even for a homeschooling mom like me, our lives are so busy and interests so varied, we have just as much difficulty wrangling everyone into the same room for some downtime as any other family.

So in an effort to bring more cohesiveness and fun to our family unit (without a lot of groans and eye-rolling), I’ve pulled together five ideas to get us all together in the new year. Christina

Food for thought

Family activities: TableTopics
Since we’re already gathered around the dinner table most nights, I’d love to take our conversation beyond pass the salt, please. TableTopics’ cube holds loads of great questions to ask around the table and none of them say, How was your day? 

Board (not bored) games

Family activities: Mermaid Beach card game
My kids love to play games, but I’m still scarred from that marathon Candyland game when I would have gladly eaten the pieces to end the game. Queen Frostine aside, I know there are loads of fun games for preschoolers that we’ve covered that even parents can love, like Zingo! and Hisss.

And now that my kids are older, I enjoy Gamewright’s selection of smart card games that can be played almost anywhere like their newest game Mermaid Beach which has enough twists and turns to keep us grown ups on our toes.

Plug them in
Family activities: JustDance 3
We all love our electronics, but five people staring a handheld screen feels anything but harmonious. That’s when I pass out the Wii remotes and work off cabin fever with a round of Just Dance 3. It’s hilarious to watch and if you have room for four dancers, you can all get in the action at once.

Our next purchase will be the super fun ABBA You Can Dance which even includes a karaoke option for those who’d prefer to sing than dance. And Xbox with Kinect owners should check out this list of new family-friendly games—We’d be all over Wipeout in the Zone, the kids’ favorite show.

Get Outside!

Family activities: Let's Go Outside!
Getting outside for a little while–yes, even in the freezing cold—can minimize cabin-fever crazies, but I sometimes fall short of ideas of things to do. I love Jennifer Ward’s Let’s Go Outside! which has loads of ideas that don’t require a ton of planning. And I’m already dreaming of spring when we can pull out Barefoot Books’ Kids’ Garden Activity Cards and play in the dirt.
Discover your area

Cool Stuff book

We spend a lot of time planning our big annual vacation, but often overlook the gems we could visit in our own backyard. Grab a travel guide for your closest city like the kid-directed city guides Cool Stuff Every Kid Should Know or its sister guides What’s So Great About This State? Then pile into the minivan (or subway) and take a family trip. No passports required.
Do you have any ideas for making the most of your family time? Feel free to add them your own comments.