With homework, soccer practice, gymnastics and more, schedules can be hectic. Before you know it, you are left wondering: When was the last time that your entire family was all in the same room at the same time?
That’s why experts recommend scheduling some mandatory family time at least once per week. “When our children are young, we have a hard time realizing that we are making investments for lifelong family connection,” says Bernadette Noll, writer, mother of four and co-founder of SlowFamilyLiving.com. “To ensure close relationships with our adult children, we have to put the time in now, when they are young, thereby building a truly sustainable lifelong family connection.”
Change it up
Designate the same time each week for family time, but not the same activity. Changing it up will keep older kids interested and less likely to resist the mandatory get-together. Try creating a family fun calendar using a laminated calendar sheet and a grease pen to schedule the month’s activities for the entire household to see. Let each family member make suggestions to ensure everyone gets a little of her kind of fun.
Think beyond the dinner table
Family time doesn’t have to just be during dinner time; full mouths limit the opportunity for conversation. Have a shutter bug in the house? Gather those photos and build a family scrapbook. Rummaging though photos and writing down descriptions with an acid-free pen gives each family member a chance to share their memories about that particular moment while helping create a keepsake.
Take your creativity outside
Something about sunshine and fresh air gets a family moving. If you have young kids, break out the colored markers and some poster board to help them create their own lemonade stand. Or, grab lawn chairs, buckets and anything else you can use to create an obstacle course for the entire family. Kids of gradeschool age and up love scavenger hunts, so make a list and watch them go. The possibilities are endless when you’re outdoors!
Create projects that involve the whole family working together, such as pairing up family members to take turns putting together DVD slideshows. Blend still photos and digital videos of family activities with music on the computer and have a viewing party, popcorn and all. (Don’t forget to use special CD/DVD markers to distinguish each slide show with a title and date.) Or, fire up a little friendly competition with a game or race, and make “team shirts” with colored permanent laundry markers to commemorate the big event. Mix up the teams each time, however, to practice cooperation and strengthen relationships.
A bonus to having spent time with your family? You have keepsakes to remember all the fun. Embrace these moments; soon, your kids will be passing on these new-found traditions to their own children.