By: Apryl Duncan
Between soccer practice and status updates, today’s families are busier than ever. Yours is no different. You feel overscheduled and like your family doesn’t spend enough quality time together. Try these 10 things families do together to stay connected.
Young kids crave attention while your teenagers will roll their eyes if you step one foot toward them. But every one of your children, from the 6-year-old to the 16-year-old, needs affection. One of the most important things families do together to stay connected is to show affection toward each other.
Dish out kisses and hugs to the little ones. For your teens, you may have to settle for a high 5 as you pass them in the hall. Don’t forget your spouse, either. Making your married life a priority benefits your whole family.
Say Thank You
You’ve probably heard of the tradition of family members telling each other what they’re thankful for on Thanksgiving. Don’t limit the thank yous to once a year. Let everyone in your family tell each other what they’re thankful for every day.
Take the time to gather as a family early in the morning or before bed to share your thanks. This is a good way to show kids how to be thankful and it makes everyone consciously think of new reasons to be thankful every day.
The dog just made himself a bed in the piles of baby laundry you need to fold. Dinner is supposed to be on the table in 10 minutes but the meat’s still frozen. Your youngest just reminded you the school needs 48 cupcakes first thing in the morning. The only thing separating your chaotic life from a sitcom is the laugh track.
Bust that stress when you laugh with your family every day. Tell a knock-knock joke. Start a tickle fight. Laugh for no reason. Research shows laughter really is the best medicine. Besides, who doesn’t want to hear those tiny shrieks of laughter from their favorite people in the world?
Take a walk in the park when it’s warm. Play indoor hopscotch when it’s not. One of the healthiest things to do as a family is to exercise every day, regardless of the weather.
You don’t have to sign up for a family boot camp. Just find simple ways to keep your family active indoors or out. Everyone gets moving and the time together helps your family bond.
Prepare Nutritious Snacks
When kids get hungry, it’s easy to reach for the potato chips or cookies to give them a quick fix. Turn their hunger pangs into a healthy activity.
Prepare nutritious snacks together. As they help you get their snacks ready, they learn to make healthy eating choices that will last them a lifetime.
Your family moves at a lightning-quick pace. Curl up with a good book to slow them down and encourage a love of reading. Younger kids, even babies, will enjoy looking at picture books with mom and dad. Teens can read the latest vampire love saga with their parents.
Take turns reading a page or designate a family member to do all of the reading aloud for the evening. Time is the keyword here — everyone gets downtime, quality time and story time all rolled into one.
Raising a green family helps the environment and gives your family a daily project. Sort those old magazines, plastic bottles, and aluminum cans and apply green living strategies to your everyday life.
Remind the kids to turn off the water while they brush their teeth and turn off the lights when they leave the room. Not only will your kids get into an eco-friendly routine, but those green habits will also save you money on your water and electric bills.
Clean the House
Moms have a constant chore hanging over their heads: cleaning the house. Make cleaning a part of your daily routine and add it as one of the things to do as a family. Let the kids get involved to reduce your workload while teaching them age-appropriate responsibilities.
It only takes 20 minutes to get your rooms tidy, especially when you have a small army tackling the mess. If everyone works together every day, your home will soon look like it did before you had children.
Everyone’s clamoring to get out the door in the morning. At lunchtime, kids are usually at school and spouses are at work. Dinner is typically the one meal of the day when you can all come together. Turn off the TV. Hide the cell phones in a drawer.
Get everyone to pull up a chair to the family table and enjoy a meal together. There are many benefits to a family meal and spending time with your loved ones every day of the week is just one of them.
Discuss Your Day
How was your day? It’s a common question we ask when our spouse comes home from work. It’s important to ask everyone in your house about their day too. Encourage your younger children to talk about their day or let them draw pictures if that’s easier for them. Get a conversation started with your teens to connect with them.
Explore each other’s days and really pay attention to what your kids have to say. Even if you were with them all day and know exactly what they did, you’ll still learn something new when they share their perspective of the day’s events.
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