6 Clever Ways to Incorporate Downtime Into Your Family Fun Time

A young girl reads quietly in bed.

Downtime is important for everyone, and that includes kids, too. Just like you can experience stress from your job, family obligations, and other tasks on your plate, kids can feel that same sense of overwhelming stress in their lives. Whether school is the culprit or they happen to be overscheduled in their activities, even little things can sometimes feel big for kids. That’s why for stress reduction, happiness and balance, kids need to have downtime scheduled throughout their days, just like adults.

While you can schedule specific downtime for your children, parents clearly need downtime, too. That’s why you may want to consider building downtime into your family fun time. While your downtime may look different from theirs, finding activities that work for your whole family can be a great way for you to connect and participate together. If you’re looking for a few ideas to incorporate downtime into your family’s fun time, here are a few activities that might work for the whole household.

1.   Meditation

While it might seem like kids are the last group of people you’ll be able to get to sit still and focus their minds, meditation can be a fantastic way for kids to find a bit of peace and downtime. Meditation can be a great way to quiet the mind and connect together. If you have younger kids, there are plenty of kids and family meditation tracks and videos available that are aimed specifically at getting kids to meditate.

Alternatively, you can always try interactive meditation techniques like breathing exercises, walking meditations, and mindfulness exercises if you want something a bit more conscious and involved, but still has that mindful and meditative element.

2.   Outdoor Time

One great way to spend downtime together is by getting outdoors, no matter how you do it. Whether you go for a hike in the woods, spend the day at the beach or simply play in the backyard, outdoor time can be highly beneficial to kids and adults alike. Plus, the outdoors can provide an opportunity for both active and passive downtime, so you can let everyone do their own thing while still staying connected.

3.   Player’s Choice

Free play is highly important for kids. It encourages creativity, self-expression, and exploration into the world around them. Whether you take some time for free play outside or on a cozy evening in, allowing the kids to completely guide the play session can allow them the freedom to explore their interests, all while giving you a bit of a break from being in charge of every moment. You can get involved in their world or let them have a bit of space to do their own thing. Whatever feels natural to you.

4.   Yes, Screen Time

Screen time is a bit of a controversial subject to some, as it isn’t always the healthiest option for kids looking for a bit of downtime. But in moderation, certain screen activities can provide an opportunity for the whole family to relax and enjoy something together. For example, a family movie night or video game session can be the perfect excuse to cozy up and enjoy a piece of media collectively rather than everyone being enthralled by their own devices or activities.

While kids shouldn’t be getting more than two hours of screen time per day and children under two should have none at all, a little bit of age-appropriate family screen time can actually be fun in moderation.

5.   Silent Reading

If screen time is a no in your house, what about silent reading time? Reading is the perfect way to spend some relaxing downtime with the family. Whether you combine it with outdoor time or spend a cozy evening in, silent reading can be a great opportunity to spend time in the same physical space as one another but still read your own books and spend some mental downtime in your own space. This also means you can find some time to read your own book and enjoy some content that’s not child-centered.

6.   Turning in Early

Another wonderful way to spend some downtime together as a family is to have a night every week or two where you turn in early and have an intentional cozy evening. The point is not to schedule anything specific for this time so that you can all relax and unwind with whatever feels natural in the moment.

Having this unscheduled time can be beneficial for the whole family, as it can truly allow you to feel free to do whatever you all want in the moment—which is really the ultimate downtime. And, make sure you leave time to catch a few extra Z’s that night.

Spending Downtime Together

There are so many opportunities to spend downtime together as a family because it’s just as important for kids as it is for adults. Whether you turn on a movie, take a hike or crack open a book, taking the time to relax is one of the best choices you and your family can make together.

Jennifer Landis
Author's Bio:

Jennifer Landis is a mom of two, writer, blogger, and co-parent. She enjoys drinking tea, doing yoga, and baking copious amounts of bread. When she’s not writing or in the kitchen you’ll likely find her trying to get pants on her daughters for the seventh time today. Find more from Jennifer on her blog, Mindfulness Mama