March madness is in full swing at our house and there is always a game on! I got to thinking that we spend lots of time in our society promoting a TEAM concept. We cheer on our favorite high school, college, and professional teams. We fundraise and volunteer for our schools as a team. We worship, plan, and celebrate with our church teams. We form groups, network, and share while collaborating on teams for work projects. Our children are taught early about the importance of teams for sports, clubs, and scouts. Turn on the news? The current political scene urges us to pick a team to support. But what about TEAM FAMILY? After you’ve worked, volunteered, worshiped, car pooled, cheered from stands, voted, and attended meetings is there time for one of your most important teams?

I know in our house, time devoted for our little team of four seems to be feast or famine at any given moment, but it is something that I want to be intentional about. I think arming our children with the supportive nature of a family team gives them confidence and encouragement. When all else fails, you always should have the team of your family! My friend always tells her kids that they were each others “first friends” and that makes me smile because it is so true. We choose our friends, but our family is chosen for us so why not be as intentional to build strong relationships and memories with the members of the family chosen for us as we are about other teams we join?  It only makes sense. We spend more time with this team than any other, yet we often neglect our family team.

Certainly special birthdays and vacations are memories our children will remember but the daily routine of family is something constant and reliable that will shape them.  How do you enjoy your team at home? What creative team building activity can you do this weekend? Here’s a few fun suggestions:

* GAME NIGHT: board games are a great traditional that I think should be honored from time to time (seriously everyone should play Pictionary from time to time), but think outside the box. What about charades? For children who aren’t reading yet, use pictures and have them act out their favorite animal, object, or even family member!

* Shut out the lights, grab a flashlight and play “pass the story.”  Let the first person start a sentence and pass the flashlight on to the next person to repeat the sentence and add on.  Keep going until you can’t remember the beginning any more and you’ll be laughing more than talking.

* Head outdoors! With the weather changing there are so many opportunities for fun outside. Go on a nature hike and collect objects. Play a friendly game of kickball with friends. Wash and decorate your bikes and have a family parade at your local trail. Have a bubble blowing contest. Roast smores. Play freeze tag. See who can throw rocks the farthest at your local stream or river. The possibilities are endless.

*Road trip somewhere new. Even f it is 20 minutes away to a local park. Read about it, photograph it, and journal your experience together. Let each person finish the same sentence about your day such as “the best part of of the day was….” You’ll create a great experience and a lasting memory.

*Find your inner artist. Head somewhere such as a park, museum, or your own back yard and share paper and paints or colored pencils and create some family masterpieces.

*Volunteer together. Even smaller children can help serve meals to homeless folks. Older children can join the family at a day helping with larger projects like Habitat for Humanity. Nothing builds a team better than looking outside ourselves to help others.

* Assign each person another family member through a “secret swap.”  Take time to leave a note, treat, or do a chore for another family member in secret. Have a special dinner at the end of the week or month to reveal who the person is.

Whether you choose one of these ideas or hold a family meeting to choose your own, I think you’ll be pleased with a decision to carve out some time to spend together. What could be more rewarding than actually allowing yourself time with those you love most. Who knows – turn off the TV and try – and March might not seem so MAD!

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