Considering and Selecting Family Hobbies

Family having quality time
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A family in our neighborhood has adopted backpacking as their family hobby. Fortunately, we live in an area where amazing backpacking country is close by, and many weekends when the weather is good and usually a week or two in the summer will find this family on a backpacking excursion.

If you ask this family, they will tell you that some of their best family memories have been involving their backpacking trips.

They love being in nature together, sleeping under the stars, cooking out with their lightweight stoves and freeze dried meals and simply enjoying time together. They would also tell you that it is not so much which family hobby you choose as long as you have one that brings the family together and creates bonding opportunities.

Finding that perfect (or near-perfect) family hobby can be a little daunting for dads and moms, and kids for that matter. Often family members have radically different ideas of having fun, and finding activities that could be considered a family hobby by all family members can feel nearly impossible.

Candice Watters with Focus on the Family suggests five key criteria for making a family hobby choice. She suggests that any activity chosen should be:

  • Age-appropriate. Finding an activity that works for all ages in the family is important. Hiking might be a good choice because little ones can be put in backpacks, or road trips might work as long as the needs of children of different ages are considered.
  • Scalable. Activities need to be able to be "grown into" as the children grow up. And they also need to work when not every family member can be present at the activity.
  • Repeatable. Family hobbies should be able to fit into the family's schedule regularly. Going to a park to play is repeatable if a park is nearby; going to the beach may not be if you live away from the ocean.
  • Affordable. The family hobby should be within the family's budget constraints if it is going to be regular. Skiing is a common family hobby, but participating regularly can get quite expensive. Families need to make sure that they can swing the financial components of their selected hobby.
  • Fun. Family hobbies need to bring an element of fun. Some families I know have adopted family history research as a family hobby, but just doing research online may not always be fun. These families find ways to embrace their family history by scrapbooking, doing skits and plays, going to family reunions and the like.

As I have asked some families I know about their ideas of good family hobbies, they have suggested some of the following thoughts:

  • Hiking. Hiking seems to be a very popular family hobby in our area. It is fairly inexpensive to get into, requiring some good boots, water bottles, and sunscreen but is something that can be done all during the spring, summer and fall months of the year.
     
  • Fishing. Fishing is another family hobby that is popular with families I know. The kids get into enjoying the outdoors, they love the challenge of trying to outsmart the fish in the lake or river and they enjoy quiet time with dad and mom. Many of these kids have also come to love the inevitable fish fry after a successful outing.
     
  • Family History. I mentioned the idea of genealogy as a fun family hobby. The kids seem to enjoy the detective work aspects of this activity and find some great personal satisfaction in learning more about their personal and family heritage.
     
  • Geocaching. This fun activity seems to blend a lot of the elements of a successful family hobby. Geocachers follow directions to find a secret "cache" of something fun left behind by a previous geocacher. This can involve the whole family and gets everyone engaged in figuring out the clues and following them to the promised reward.
     
  • Radio-controlled Airplanes. One of my friends from work has a family that enjoys RC airplanes. They go flying most weekends and have fun building, flying, modifying and repairing these large model aircraft. Another relative's family enjoys model rockets, kind of a variation on that theme.

    Whatever family hobby your and your family finds to enjoy will bring with it lots of time spent together, fun memories, and bonding experiences.