Having fun is one of the first behaviors that disappears when an individual or a family is dealing with a crisis, such as discovering or acknowledging that you or someone you care about has a serious gambling problem. Individuals and loved ones of compulsive gamblers often feel bogged down – emotionally and physically burdened with overwhelming serious issues. When making a decision to stop gambling, while it is crucial to do all the hard work necessary required in recovery, allowing the gambling problem to dominate all aspects of your family life is not only unfair but is counterproductive to revitalizing and strengthening the family. Playing, laughing, and having fun are excellent ways to renew energy, enthusiasm, and intimacy. They also contribute to restoring normalcy to healthy individuals and families.
When did you last think about how much time you spend with your loved ones, especially on activities that are fun or entertaining? Stop and estimate in a 24-hour period the average amount of time you personally spend on the following: sleeping, getting ready to go to work or school (bathing, washing and fixing hair, selecting clothing, etc.), driving or transportation to work, school, shopping, spiritual activities, preparing and eating meals, cleaning up after meals, spending time talking on the phone or computer, taking care of household chores, homework, paying bills, running errands, taking care of pets, working, attending school, social events, and other activities you routinely include in your day. Now, estimate how many minutes daily you spend on average on family entertainment and fun. You can use a paper plate or draw a large circle to create a pie chart illustrating how you typically use your time.
You may feel that your money situation prohibits you from doing a lot of fun activities. Finances are a significant concern among many families, especially those devastated by the financial drain of a problem gambler. However, here in the Sunshine State, you have an abundance of open space and air to enjoy the environmental beauty and cultural diversity that Florida offers. Depending upon your interests and those of your loved ones, you can identify an array of different ideas that are free or low cost, including but not limited to the following:
- Take a daily or weekly family walk, bike ride, hike, or roller blade outing.
- Build something together that you can monitor and enjoy (e.g., garden, outdoor firepit, etc.).
- Spend time on the water (e.g., swimming, fishing, snorkeling, etc.).
- Fly a kite.
- Pack up a nice lunch or dinner and eat in a new location.
- Visit one or more of the many historic sites or monuments.
- Attend an open-air concert, community music or theater performance.
- Go on a nature walk.
- Play a game of catch or frisbee.
- Look for discount coupons for things your family can do (e.g., canoeing, miniature golf, etc.).
- Watch and discuss a movie.
- Go to one of the local museums or art galleries. (Identify free/reduced admission days/times.)
- Pick fresh fruit and make pies or jams with your harvest.
- Visit one of many beaches or national forests.
The only thing that will limit what you do is the amount of time. Identifying ideas and making decisions for your next outing can be an enjoyable task when making it all about spending quality time with family and loved ones. And should you need help getting inspired, visit Florida Vacations, Travel & Tourism Guide | VISIT FLORIDA for tips and suggestions.
If you or someone you know wants to stop gambling and begin healing one day at a time, contact the FCCG’s 24-hour Confidential and Multilingual Problem Gambling HelpLine at 888-ADMIT-IT (888-236-4848), by text (321-978-0555), email (firstname.lastname@example.org), live chat (gamblinghelp.org), via the 888-ADMIT-IT App (https://landing.appypie.com/888-admit-it) or on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter.