How to enhance your family time in your next prison visit
Everywhere I look, I see information about the importance of spending quality time together as a family. Family time is credited with reducing risky behavior among youth, increasing success at school, and a whole host of positive outcomes for children and families.
Setting aside time to connect as a family is essential. “So, where does that leave my children?” I wondered since Ron was in prison. We didn’t have the choice, or the luxury, of having family nights together. Questions raced through my mind, “Are my children doomed to fail? Will they become just another statistic?” I felt so helpless, hopeless and agonized over the disadvantages my children were suffering.
I am so grateful that I woke up to the fact that I did NOT have to accept the role of victim for my family.
Could I do something to move us out of the role of the helpless and hopeless? My family did not have to become yet another casualty of incarceration. We would need to be intentional about connecting and reducing the risks for our children. I knew we were up for the challenge!
We began creating our family time inside of the prison visiting rooms.
We planned games, activities, meals, conversations so we could invest in growing our family stronger over time. In other words, we refused to let the time do us, we dictated how we would do the time. It was empowering! And, most importantly, it worked. Today, my children are all healthy, thriving, and happy. Prison did not define us, it forced us to redefine our family.
If you are in the midst of walking your family through incarceration, do not be discouraged. Believe that you are not helpless. You do not have to succumb to the dire stats that you see. This may be the first time hearing this; you have a choice, and you have the power to create a life you will all be proud to live. You are probably wondering why this blog is so serious—because you came to it to find out how to fun during prison visits. It is really important to me that you understand what is at stake if you do NOT incorporate fun into your time together as a family. Your children’s future success is at stake.
Budgeting for prison visits is important, but often neglected. Budgets. I don’t know anyone who likes to talk about budgeting—except for a banker or investment counselor! I think of my budget as a necessary evil. It stops me from spending money on things I want, but I cannot afford. It also helps me pay for the things that are important.
Now you know the WHY behind creating fun inside the gates for your family. Here is the HOW to do it 😊
Here are 7 games to play during visits to help you get started on your journey toward building a strong, healthy foundation for your children to thrive upon.
- I Spy. You can play this the traditional way where you find something in the room you can see and share the color, size or shape so the rest of your family can begin guessing or play by imaging a time you are all together in the future. For the imagining version, you would begin by saying something like, “I spy our family living together and doing this thing on a Friday night.” Then, let the guessing begin!
- Pretend Hide and Seek. Decide the locations your family can “hide.” The locations could be cities in a specific state, your home, states in the US, countries around the world, etc. Everyone, except for the person who is “it” writes down somewhere they would hide. The person who is “it” begins guessing. When he gets a guess right, that person is the next “it” and decides the new locations everyone else can choose as their “hiding place.” This is a lot of fun and gets the imaginations rolling!
- The Alphabet Game. Each person states, “I am going on a trip and I am going to bring ________” The items are shared alphabetically, and the next person must repeat all of the items beginning with the first one that started with A. The game continues until participants use every letter of the alphabet and someone can recite all 26 items alphabetically. Ex: I am going on a trip and I am bringing (something that starts with the letter A.) The next person says the exact same sentence and adds something that begins with a B. The next turn says both the A and B words and adds a C word. Participants play until there are no pieces left.
- Tic-Tac-Toe. You can use paper and pencil, salt and pepper packets, or tear up napkins into 2 different shapes to play this game.
- 5 Second Game. The first player asks any other player a question that requires a list of at least 3 items. The other player has 5 seconds to provide an answer. If they do so, it is their turn to ask the question to a player of their choice. If they don’t, the first player asks the same question to another player. Sample questions: Name 3 kinds of fruit in 5 seconds. Name 3 countries in 5 seconds. Name 3 ways you can serve potatoes for dinner in 5 seconds.
Keep play going until everyone has had a chance to ask and to answer questions.
- Decide as a family what your topics will be. Break up into 2 teams (even if one team has more people than the other) Be sure to use topics that interest your children or of things that are of importance to your family. Cartoons, Princesses, Movies, Songs, Bible stories, Candy, Famous People, Politics…….any of these are great topics. The goal is to stump the other team. Each question that is answered correctly the first try is 3 points, the second is 2, the third is 1 point, and if it is not answered in 3 attempts, that team gets a 0 for that round.
- Story Time. Make up a story together. One person starts the story with one or two sentences, and then the next person adds to the story until you have each had 3 turns to add to the silly story.
Finding ways to connect, laugh, and play together is so important. Use these games to start your family time, then plan your family time together to build your new legacy!
I am rooting for you!