Families of today are busier than ever. Between work obligations, social lives, managing households and things like sports and clubs, it can be difficult to stay connected with your loved ones. Regardless of whether your kids are young and living at home, are away at school or are grown with families of their own, it is important to build strong relationships with those you are closest to. Family helps us to stay grounded and feel comforted when times are tough, and they are usually among the first to help us celebrate our victories.
Bring your family closer together by making family time a priority and supporting one another. Try one of these seven great ways to get closer as a family. These activities are easy to incorporate into your daily routines and can be adjusted to fit the needs of your family.
Eat dinner together — Regularly eating meals as a family encourages daily conversation and brings the family together into one space. Families that dine together can share stories of their day, upcoming events, tell jokes or talk about problems that they may be facing. Family dinners also encourage children to try new foods. And, they help parents to enforce manners and appropriate behavior during social dining situations, such as a group dinner.
Plan activities together — Between practices, play dates, recitals, sporting events, meetings and other activities, finding quality family time with those you love can be difficult. Plan regular quality family time as often as possible. Activities such as movie nights, game nights, vacations, arts and crafts, bicycling and swimming are great ways to promote family bonding. And building fun memories is an important aspect for strengthening family bonds.
Turn chores into fun — How often do you remind family members about chores? Does it feel like you are talking to a wall? Chores can be a burden and drain when performed individually, but tackling chores together can bring a family closer. Not only are chores done faster, but they can be enjoyable, too. When everyone pulls their weight, it relieves the burden from one or just a few members of the family and gives everyone a sense of pride in their space. You can work as a team on one task (e.g., raking leaves) or tackle a mini-project (e.g., cleaning out the garage). When working on a project, give everyone different responsibilities.
Volunteer together — Volunteering can unite the family while giving back to others. Besides serving people in the community, volunteering can give all family members a sense of appreciation for what they have and for what they can contribute to the world. Every community has a ton of volunteer options. From volunteering at the local humane society, or at a community cleanup project, or sorting clothing donations at the community center, there is a way for family members of all ages to give back.
Write notes — Handwritten, thoughtful notes are a nice surprise for anyone to receive. Hide notes in your children's lunches or in your spouse's car. Leave a Post-it note on the computer monitor or on the front of the refrigerator. Notes don't have to be long and can be a source of encouragement for the recipient. Hiding notes is a great way to express love toward family members and provides a few smiles throughout the day.
Express sincere appreciation — Everyone likes to be appreciated, and family members are no exception. We often mistakenly assume that family knows we appreciate them; however, most people still like to hear it, especially from their loved ones. Appreciation can also be used as positive reinforcement. Instead of reminding family members of the tasks they must complete, simply thank them for everything they do. There is no limit to the ways in which you can show your appreciation. Appreciation creates added happiness and creates harmony.
Cook and bake — If you like enjoying a meal as a family, then you will love cooking and baking together. Teach your children how to cook by making it a family fun time. Pass down the family recipes from generations past, or let children decide which recipes will be made for a particular meal. Start out slowly and remember to always supervise your children in the kitchen. Assign age-appropriate kitchen tasks whenever possible.
There are many small changes you can make to help build and strengthen your family from the comfort of your own home. When families feel connected, they thrive. Take the time and effort now to strengthen your family bonds. You won't regret it!