Doodle Therapy: The Family Playdate

Did you know that May 10 is National Family Playdate Day?  (Okay, I’ll be honest. Neither did I — until I saw it on Facebook!)

But, apparently a group has deemed May 10 to be a Family Playdate Day – and in theory, it’s a really great idea for all of us to make meaningful plans for time together as a family.
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Today, within one simple project my little family built two stepping stones.  We played as a family. We were artful (& Messy).  We had fun.  We had great conversations.  AND, we managed to create two lovely gifts to be given to the “Nana’s” in our lives in honor of Mother’s Day.

There are numerous benefits to spending quality time together, but for families touched by fostercare and adoption, the following are really important:

1. Participating in family oriented activities are meaningful and focused opportunities to bond and connect as a family.
2. Promising your personal time at least one day out of the week can help members in the family gain a sense of self worth and belonging – and to assign a true value to “family time.”
3. While spending time together, family members learn how to listen and work cooperatively together.
4. Children that do not have a sense of family values are more likely to be influenced by friends that do not necessarily have their best interests at heart.
5. Parents often admit to frustration when it comes to communication. Parents can use this time to relate to their children and actively listen while everyone is together. Using creative projects like this is a good way to create a “release” and to open up discussion about what is going on in each members life.

Our Stepping Stones project can make a great Family “Playdate” for any family. The outcome can be made to embellish your own lovely garden – or can be a memento/gift given to Mothers, Grandmothers or Birth Mothers in celebration of an important milestone, in celebration – or just to say “I love you” any day of the year.

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All that’s needed for the project pictured is a stepping stones kit. My family used two kits with the goal of making a stepping stone for the grandmother on each side of our family. We actually abandoned the templates, combined the embellishments from the two different kits and just did what we thought looked nice by laying out our “plan” on the table. (If you’re especially crafty, you can make your own stepping stones without a kit – by simply using concrete ).

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If you haven’t been inspired to make stepping stones, here are a few other options that you might consider for your own Family Playdate(s):

* Start a garden together and teach the children about growing their own foodstuffs. This also encourages healthy eating!

* Plan a meal from new recipes or even from another culture, assigning each family member a job. Set the table according to the cultural traditions and share a discussion about similarities and differences.

* Plan an outing to the park together and play games, go on a nature hike or make a picnic together.

* Create a Scavenger Hunt or “I spy” list of items which can be found outside. Head out on a family walk and use cameras and/or iPhones to record group shots next to each item found.

* Create a “We bicycled 100 miles” chart and record each mile rode together as a family. Use a smart phone app to track each of your bike rides so that you know your mileage. This can also be done during walks or jogs.

Basically, just choose a project that is easy enough for every family member to participate in. Encourage children to use their unique talents to make the project special. The most important thing – is that it should result in lots of fun!

What ideas do you have for a Family Playdate?

~Be well and Be Creative!  Stacy Dinkel, M.A.

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If you are interested in creating stepping stones like ours, we used the following kits: photo stepping stone kit   and mosaic stepping stone kit .

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