Thank you to our guest blogger Sarah Emerson for this entry.
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In our house at least, it feels like my family is flying in all different directions at once and don’t always connect. Even though my children are young and aren't involved with too much extra-curricular activities, it still seems like we're always busy.
Time is one of the threads that help weave a strong feeling of family togetherness and unity. It is important to not leave threads loose so they do not pull and create holes.
I have put together a list of a few easy ways to stay close or grow closer as a family. Some of these may be activities your family currently does, but I hope that there is at least one or two that you will find helpful and can implement in your daily lives.
SIMPLE WAYS TO GROW CLOSER AS A FAMILY
Have no-screen time days
My kids never get excited about the time when the TV and tablets are turned off, but it always ends up being a fun time where we do things like pretend play, color, sing, bake cookies, or read books. If you ask them later, they will always tell you they had more fun being creative than if they had sat like zombies in front of the TV.
Have a weekly family game night
Choosing one night a week to play games together can get everybody involved. Granted, the type of games played may have to be simple for younger children, but there are guaranteed to be giggles. Try to vary the games you play, because let's face it, Candy Land gets old quickly. Card games, board games, video games, charades, word games, drawing games - there are so many possibilities. Playing games together as a family is also a great way to teach children about losing gracefully, being a good sport, and friendly competition.
Eat at the dinner table each night
Growing up, my family almost always ate dinner in front of the television unless we had guests or a special meal. When I started my own family I wanted to make a point of everyone eating at the dinner table together. It is our way to catch up with each other, tell stories or jokes, learn manners, and just generally enjoy each other's company. It is important that there are no phones allowed at the table in order to fully engage and interact.
Have an adventure
Take a hike, go camping (even in the backyard), check out a new landmark, or take a vacation together. Give everyone a chance to participate in the planning, whether it be choosing a place to visit, helping make and pack lunches, or researching the location. Littles love to be included in planning, even if it is helping with minor decisions. Use the time together to see new things, explore, and have fun.
Volunteering is a great way to teach children about giving, community, and social responsibility. Whether it is spending an afternoon playing with dogs at an animal shelter, collecting canned goods for a food bank, or even helping care for an elderly neighbor's yard, volunteering is an activity that can bring everyone together as a team and accomplish a collective goal for the greater good.
Exercising together as a family can be a healthy and fun activity for everyone to participate in. There is something everyone can do, like riding bicycles together, taking a walk, or playing a game of tag in the backyard.
Watch old family movies, tell stories, look at photo albums. My kids love to see videos from when they were babies. Sharing family stories and family history is a great way for children to learn about their family's past and identity with family they may not have met.
My daughter loves when I tell the story of how one time when my grandparents were hosting a bridge party for their friends, my dad (who was quite the handful as a child) scared his pet skunk. The skunk sprayed and everyone had to evacuate the house. I have no idea why my dad had a pet skunk, but my daughter giggles each time the story is told.
Regardless of what kind of activity you do, as long as you are spending quality time together while focused on being together, your family will knit closer ties and create memories that will last a lifetime.