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Smart Stepfamilies

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Playing Together



by Kelly Kirkendoll Shafer


(An Excerpt from “29 Ways to Make Your Stepfamily Work”)


The stepfamily that plays together stays together. Stepfamily life can be tough, but stepfamilies can also be fun (really!). Take time to celebrate, play games, go camping or act silly together. These activities can be a soothing balm for the pain inherent in stepfamilies. They can also build memories to help anchor your new family.


Take advantage of the positive. Stepfamilies usually mean a larger family - maybe you now have enough people to play two-on-two basketball, flashlight tag, Pictionary® or red rover! To encourage older, more reluctant children to join in the fun, let them invite a friend.


More people also means that some activities are suddenly more expensive. Movie tickets, popcorn and sodas for our crew of seven, for example, can easily cost $75. We’ve had no choice but to get creative in our search for affordable entertainment.  In the end, it doesn’t matter what we do, as long as we’re truly present while we’re doing it.


One-on-one time with each child is equally important.  Not all activities must include the entire family.  My son says the best thing about his stepdad is that he plays video games with him (he does much more than that, of course, but the playtime is what’s important to my son). 


Here are some other ideas for fun activities:


Free/Low Cost

Medium/Higher Cost

Attend an art or music festival

Take a camping trip

Ride bikes together

Go horseback riding

Go on a nature walk

Attend a professional theatre show

Shoot hoops

Canoe together

Go sled riding

Take a trip to the beach

Pitch a tent and sleep in the backyard

Play paintball

Enjoy a picnic

Spend a day at a water park

Build a snowman

Play laser tag

Rent a movie (or borrow one from the library)

Race go karts

Attend a high school play or musical

Play at an arcade

Start a family game night tradition

Go ice skating at an indoor rink

Volunteer together

Go see a movie

Read books together

Snow ski together



© 2003 Kelly Kirkendoll Shafer 


Kelly Kirkendoll Shafer is a mother of two/stepmother of three (ages 8-15), freelance writer, speaker and the author of "29 Ways to Make Your Stepfamily Work." She is a regular contributor to Your Stepfamily magazine, the official publication of the Stepfamily Association of America, and she publishes the Stepfamilies Work! website and free monthly newsletter. Contact Kelly here kellyshafer@charter.net.


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