Often, we are too caught up in a chaotic rollercoaster of activities that begin on Mondays and end on Sundays – and then start all over again, week by week. Time flies fast as we struggle to accomplish priority tasks that are associated with handling our jobs and running the household, driving the kids and other family members to school and work, and going to appointments. Despite that, we would all agree that the best way to show gratitude and love and value for the family is through spending quality time with each other.
Some families strengthen their bonds by planning trips and organizing picnics. These enable them to take a break from their busy schedules and build better relationships with people that matter. But while these are great ideas, practicing daily habits that cultivate more love, appreciation, and value for the family can go a long way in maintaining healthy family connections.
Below is a list of some simple yet meaningful ideas that can bring more joy and love by simply spending time with family daily.
Making Time For The Kids
This is easy because children love to be a part of our lives and would love it if we spend as much time as we can with them.
- Let them participate in fixing dinner or cleaning the kitchen or whatever stuff they can do with you. Maybe you need to tidy up the kitchen counter. Get Josh or Belle to help you. You can wipe off the mess, and the kids can throw your trash in the bin. Or if your sink suddenly broke, you can fix it while they go and fetch the screwdriver for you. They will love getting under the sink with you and feel like someone who knows a lot about sinks!
- Make it a habit to have dinners with them. When you get home, spare an hour or so for dinnertime before following up on something that’s work-related. Eating dinner together allows each member to join in conversations and listen about how their day went. It’s a chance for parents to see what’s up with the kids, and it’s an opportunity for the kids to ask their parents questions that they had for the day or the week.
- Do the after-dinner strolls. You might want to do this once in a while, or better yet, every after dinner. Just stroll around the neighborhood and feel a more relaxed atmosphere between you and your kids. They might be able to confide to you about something that’s been bothering them that they could not tell you earlier because dinner was more formal. Walking loosens them up and may allow them to talk about topics that are hard for them.
- Read to them or read together. It doesn’t have to be too long, just as long as you spend a few minutes keeping your kids company in their beds, cuddling together while reading or telling them a story before saying goodnight.
Being There For Your Teen
As your kids become teenagers, time with them is even more vital, as already this phase of their lives is not going to be as easy as their childhood years. You’ll need to find more time and effort for your teens.
- Have small or big talks with your teen. Barb Roba, LMCH says, “Assure that BOTH you and your child are calm when speaking about behaviors. Convey understanding of their feelings and ask them what they think will help them to manage their emotions. Communicating while calm always results in more successful plans.” Always find opportunities to have a conversation, such as when you’re going on a trip together or even when you’re driving her to school. It’s harder for them to open up, so having talks relaxes them and increases their trust in you. Find ways for them to be able to share their lives with you.
- Encourage her to volunteer – with you. This phase of a teen’s life involves finding purpose and a sense of belonging. Instead of thinking about joining fraternities and other organizations that are only meant to mislead your teen, let her choose something that entails volunteering your time to do good in the community, like giving to the less privileged or joining a soup kitchen.
- Support your teen’s passion. If she loves dancing or music, watch her audition. Let her know you want her to grow and succeed in reaching her dreams. Even if there are probably things you don’t like about being a teen, just be there. Try to understand her passion and eventually love it too. She will surely appreciate your presence. You are her rock and strength.
- Know her friends. As they are growing up to become adolescents, the social world will become as important to them as their family is, and they will be spending more and more time with their friends too. Susie Raskin MA, LMHC says, “Socializing is incredibly important to teens. It’s part of their developmental process. As anyone that has a teen or worked with teens knows, friendships are crucial.” Instead of worrying where your teenager is, get to know who her friends are and welcome them into your home. You may not like it but, yes, knowing her friends means knowing your teen a little better. So be open to joining some of their chats sometimes.
According to Kimberly Hackett, LMHC, “Cultivating relational health in your parent/adolescent relationship, even when your teen is actively blocking you, takes reinvention, persistence and a willingness to look inward.” Establishing healthy relationships with each other and spending quality time form a foundation for strong families. Amidst your day-to-day chores and challenges, never forget to give a part of yourself every day to your children and the whole family.