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Family Time, Poolside

Nowadays, families seem to be pulled in more directions than ever before, but you can take back some family time if you just put a little imagination into it. So, let’s see what kind of family fun you can create poolside…

Poolside Picnic Dinners

Plan a poolside picnic. Set the stage with lit garden torches, strings of miniature lights or bobbing pool lights. Prepare all of your family’s picnic classics—from cold fried chicken to potato salad and watermelon—and have it packed in coolers in the yard. Fill a tub with ice and offer everyone’s favorite prechilled beverages. Spread a blanket or two and set out baskets of cutlery, dishes, napkins and condiments. Find an old transistor radio or “boom box” and set the mood with some music. Swim and talk and eat and laugh. Get back to the basics of just being together.

With younger children, set up a tent and let them crawl into sleeping bags and listen to you read to them until they doze off. They can be carried inside later and placed in their real beds—or call it a night and sleep in the yard. Similarly, you can pitch a tent, prepare a meal on the grill and sit in a circle late into the night, passing a flashlight and telling ghost stories.

Explore Family Heritage

Hold a “family history night.” Have each member bring an item or two of personal significance and explain why it is important to them. You can also take this opportunity to tell stories of your childhood to your kids. Use a cellphone to record the evening for later viewing and sharing.

Learn more about your ancestors. You can prepare foods they would have eaten, learn a few words of a foreign language or read aloud about some of the highlights from “the old country” or just way back when.

Get a truly waterproof container and some heavy-duty plastic bags and create a family time capsule. Fill it with a list of everyone’s favorite song, quote, television show, movie and so on. Add photos or mementos representing each of you. Decide how long you’d like to leave it and set a date for unearthing. Then, bury it in the backyard or garden. Record the process and take pictures of the location for posterity.

Break the Rules

A “backwards dinner” can be a great bonding experience. Kids never believe their parents will willingly break the rules! So, start with dessert and move backwards to the main course.

If you have older kids, try a “meal by committee,” where each member of the family is responsible for one dish. No rules here! If you end up with only snacks or all desserts and a side salad, so be it.

Play Is the Thing

Maybe your family likes games. So, set up a whiteboard or easel and play Pictionary by the pool. How about charades? And, Twister is certainly more fun outside!

Rent a karaoke machine and host your own music night. Get a bunch of glow sticks and play diving games. Somebody is definitely going to get wet! And, when all else fails, who doesn’t love a good, old-fashioned water balloon fight? The possibilities are endless.

Star of the Show

How much do you know about the stars? Get books from the library on constellations and stargazing. Then, buy or print out star charts. There are even apps you can download. Do a little research on the weather and cloud cover and then set a date for a night with the stars. On a clear night, head out to the backyard, lie on some blankets and enjoy the night sky. You can use a telescope for a closer look. Order a pizza or two, grab some beverages and take in the star-filled show!