Let's talk about the fun stuff
It is hard to get everything you want to say into those short, 15 minute, calls. There is just so much life to share; so much you want him to know and be a part of in your daily lives. His absence is felt every minute of every day. The urge to share all your challenges, the overwhelming pain you feel because he is in prison; the struggles of trying to make the ends meet to provide for your children while he is gone can cause you to spend all of your time in serious conversations. Over time, your relationship will begin to suffer if all you talk about are the hardships.
Staying connected became work instead of living our lives together.
It is hard to focus on anything but the hardship of prison, I know. I had to learn the hard way taking all the fun out of our relationship was also eroding our joy as a couple. Staying connected became work instead of living our lives together. I see it over and over again; couples and families grow distant and fall apart because ‘duty’ takes the place of affection. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way.
The first truth you must accept is that enjoying each other’s company does not meant that you are enjoying the prison experience. You will need to separate those two, or else every interaction you have will be painful and focused on the imprisonment. Prison is a terrible, painful, devastating experience. It causes trauma to the person in prison, and to every family member. I am not telling you to ignore that or pretend that everything is fine. I AM telling you must learn to keep that as only a part of your relationship and not let prison define your relationship.
Staying connected became work instead of living our lives together.
When you give yourself permission to be happy together in spite of prison, you will begin your journey of growing a stronger, healthier, more stable relationship. Say this, “I am allowed to be happy, to smile, to laugh, to have fun even though my husband is in prison.” Say it over and over until you believe it and accept it. It is not just something you can do, it is something you must do to keep your mental, physical, and emotional health.
Once you move past letting the pain define your family, games become really important. Learning to play together will help you bond, keep your husband involved in your lives, and bring healing to the brokenness in your soul. Laughter heals while it builds emotional connections. There are so many ways you CAN still play games together. I have blogged about visiting room games and activities, so if you have not read that blog, check it out.
Prison visits can be amazing. Wait! I know, I know. Having to visit your man in prison is, well… it sucks. I am not saying it is amazing to have to go to a prison to see your husband. I AM saying, that since you don’t have a choice about where you see your husband, you can make those visits amazing. Yes, even though it is in a prison visiting room.
Today, I am talking about phone games. I know 15 minutes flies by so quickly- but I promise you can play games during that time. First choose how often you will play games together on the phone. You can choose to play together as often as you like—but do not let a week go by without playing a game together. Wondering what to play? I have you covered!
Here are some games you can play on the phone:
- The 5 second game. This is a ton of fun! The youngest starts by choosing someone to provide 3 things in answer within a 5 second time limit. (example of a 5 second question: Name 3 vegetables in 5 sec- GO!) If the person provides 3 items, it is now their turn to ask someone else to answer in 5 seconds. If they do not come up with 3 within 5 seconds, the first person goes again and ask anyone the same question, or a different one. Play for 5-10 minutes for a ton of fun!
- The Rhyme Game – Youngest starts and says a word, everyone must come up with a word that rhymes that word. After everyone has rhymed that word, the next person comes up with another word and the play continues again. If someone says a word that does NOT rhyme or cannot think of one within 5-10 seconds, they are out. Keep playing until your time is up or someone wins.
- Story Game – Someone begins a story with one sentence. The next person picks up and adds another sentence, then the next person adds their sentence. Keep taking turns for 5 minutes and try to make the story as silly and fun as possible. Kids also love gross stories- so feel free to add in a sentence about poop or vomit to keep them rolling.
- 20 Questions – one person thinks of a person, place, animal, or thing. The rest of the family has 20 (yes or no) questions they can ask to try to guess it. You can assign a different person to be the thinker for each call so everyone gets a chance to think of something others must guess. This will also build a lot of anticipation for Dads next call
- Describe and Draw – Someone thinks of an object or animal and secretly writes it down on a piece of paper before the call. During the call, they do NOT tell anyone what they are thinking of; they only describe it while others draw what they are describing. When finished, whoever guesses what it is from their own drawing wins. (example: it has 4 legs, it has 2 ears, it has a tail, it is big, it is brown, it has a long tongue, it eats grass.— describing a Horse)
- Word Game – Choose someone’s full name and have everyone say words they can make out of the letters from that person’s name. Person who calls out the most words in 3 minutes wins. Use the winners name next
- Camping game – The leader secretly decides on a rule; then everyone must follow it in order to go on a pretend camping trip with them. They begin the game stating that they will be bringing an item that follows that rule. Everyone else takes turns saying what they will bring and the leader tells them they can come when they say something that follows the rule, or they cannot come if they don’t follow the rule. Keep going around until someone shouts out the rule. The one who figures out the rule gets to go next. (Example: my secret rule is that everything must start with the first letter of each person’s name. I would say, “I am going on a camping trip and I am taking a carrot with me”. Everyone would try to figure out what the rule is based on the “carrot” I am bringing. If the next person said, “I am going on a camping trip and I am bringing a potato”, but their name stated with a B, I would respond, “You cannot come.” They would then have to think about why their vegetable did not work when mine did. The next person makes their statement and play continues around until someone guesses the rule. Super fun game!
- Vacation ABC Game – This game requires you to think of places or things related to a vacation in alphabetical (or reverse alphabetical) order. First person starts by saying, “I am gong on vacation, and I am going (fill in the blank with a word of a place or thing that starts with an “A” you could say I am going to Alaska, or I am taking an apple, etc.) The next person much remember that A word and include it with their B word. Play continues until you have made it through the alphabet. If you miss a word, you are out. But you ARE allowed to help each other or give clues. You can choose to help or not when someone is struggling to remember the items and places.
These are all fun games to get you started on building your fun, family memories in spite of prison. Enjoy these moments together as you work toward a brighter future together. I am rooting for you!
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