family fun

Strengthening Families: Core and Balance Leisure Activities

family funstrengthening family relationships


It's true that "Families that play together, stay together." But it 's not just about doing anything together—it does matter what we choose. By making good choices about the activities families participate in, we can ensure that playing together will help us stay together.

Families, just like individuals, need a good balance when it comes to our leisure and recreational activities.

Core and Balance Leisure Activities

Core Activities—Core activities are those things we do with our families that don't cost a lot of money. They are usually home based, spontaneous, and take little planning or resources. They are spur of the moment and don't usually last too long, usually a few minutes to a few hours.

Core activities provide families stability and security. They build a strong foundation based on everyday interactions with one another. They also give a chance to explore family roles, be ourselves, and learn family rules and expectations. Core activities are vital to family success. They give us opportunities to connect every single day, amongst the chaos and business that is family life.

Balance Activities—Balance activities add novelty and change. Families need activities that are novel and give them something to look forward to that is new, exciting, and different. Balance activities take place away from home, and they often take more resources, planning, and money. They last longer than core activities. These activities make life sweet; they are the icing on the cake. They add balance to the everyday responsibilities.

Balance activities give families opportunities to deal with challenges and learn adaptation and negotiation skills. When they plan to do things that are novel and new, it takes a family out of its comfort zone. It puts families in situations that could change, go wrong, or need modifying in ways we don't expect.

Think about a family that goes camping. They plan to go fishing the next day, but when they wake up it is pouring rain. Enter the need to adapt. This family can get upset, cancel the trip, and go home. Or, they can go back to their tent, pull out a set of cards, and play and laugh together as they face the challenge and negotiate the unexpected situation. The family would have never been faced with this challenge had they not planned a balance activity. Adaptation and negotiation skills are vital to individual and family success. Balance activities give families an opportunity to learn these skills.

Core and balance activities look different for every family. What might be core for my family, could be balance for yours. There is not a right or wrong. Instead, look at the characteristics and benefits of both. This will help you better understand where your activities fall.

Why is this important to your family?

1. Families need both, Core and Balance. It is important to evaluate if you have a good mix of both.

2. Every member of a family will feel differently about the types of activities the family participates in. In our home, Core is by far the most important to me. It is the everyday interactions that I have with our children and with my husband that mean the most.

My husband feels differently. For him, it is the Balance that is more important. He needs activities that get our family out of the house, something to look forward to that is different and novel. Otherwise, he feels very unfulfilled and wanting when it comes to our activities.

Our children feel differently also. Our son is more like me, where our daughter is just like my husband. I have to be sensitive to their needs. Otherwise they feel unfulfilled too.

The statement is true, families do need to play together. But remember, the types of activities we choose are important as well. Fill your family's life with core and balance activities and watch your family stay together.

What type of activities appeal most to you?

Heather Johnson Heather Johnson, M.S., teaches students the principles behind successful families at Brigham Young University. You can find her online at, and connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.
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