10 Easy Ways to Bring Your Family Back Together

Life is busy. So make sure you slow things down on a regular basis and just enjoy being a family. As kids grow up, everyone can seem pulled in utterly different directions. You may even find yourself thinking that you liked your kids better before they had the ability to leave you at will.

But never fear. Here are ten remedies that will keep your relations relating even while everyone evolves along individual lines:

Eat dinner together. When my daughter Samantha was little, she wrote us a note of protest after one night when we did not all sit down to dinner together. It said, quite simply, “We hav to eat togther.” Today, when I’m tempted to skip a formal sit-down dinner due to busy schedules, I remember her note and set the table anyway or ask her to do it. If she complains, I simply quote her back to herself.

Play games. Sunday afternoons are just as perfect for game night as they ever were. But if you are having trouble gathering your kids to all be home at the same time every other week, you might need to make family game night a mandatory family event. Sure, you’ll hear some reluctant grumbling before the games begin, but once you settle in and start having fun, you’ll be so glad you insisted–and so will your kids.

Create a shared workspace. Surely you have a space in your home that is underutilized. Be it the dining room, the laundry room or an extra bedroom, it’s easy to convert this space into a shared work space where the whole family can convene instead of scattering to every corner. Simply add a large table (a folding table is fine), ample places to dock and charge electronics, office supplies, a pencil sharpener and a printer and voila! This instant family office is a great place to have your family meetings or collaborate on projects.

Put music on while you do the dishes or chores. You have seen The Big Chill, right? Then surely you remember the dish-washing scene. You can either be the type of family that says quit-your-grousing-and-do-your-chores, which makes everyone sullen and pokey, or you can be the type of family that makes chores fun and silly. Sometimes the difference is as simple and easy as turning on the radio to a station that plays oldies.

Take a family walk. Grab the dogs, the leashes, and a couple of water bottles and get the heck out of dodge. Go just far enough away from home to walk without interruption from friendly neighbors and just stroll. Don’t bring up any difficult topics, don’t confront anyone about unacceptable behavior, just take your family for a walk and leave your collective worries in the dust.

Treat everyone to dinner. Let this be a surprise even if it’s just the local burger or teriyaki joint. If you plan dinner out in advance, don’t tell everyone you have a consensus–it was an awful, terrible, rotten day. Then do your best imitation of the Dad in A Christmas Story when he says, “All right, get dressed. We are going out to eat!” And watch those frowns turn upside down.

Celebrate the small stuff. Don’t wait for birthdays and anniversaries to celebrate each other. Try to recognize one person in the family every week. Was someone selected for the school play? Maybe someone else got to play for the varsity team. Maybe mom got elected to a position in the PTA. When it’s a big enough deal, head out for ice cream or bring home bakery cupcakes. And don’t forget, you can stick a birthday candle in just about anything.

Create a family altar. Use a large hutch, buffet, or fireplace mantel as the main display area for a well-blended family. Find words that describe your family values or blocks with sweet sayings on them. Add photos of each person that really show their personality. Ask each member to contribute one or two personal items that may seem quirky separately, but when combined together, perfectly capture the spirit of your clan.

Have an end-of-day ritual. Our family enjoys reading a book from a book series out loud before bed. But make yours whatever your family finds relaxing and enjoyable, so everyone can drift off to sleep with a smile. Whether it’s a quick game of “Highs & Lows,” sharing a story from the day, or just tucking in and kissing goodnight, end on a consistent happy note no matter what the day was like.

Have a do-nothing day of rest. Stay in your jammies until noon on a Saturday morning. Cook a big messy breakfast, or grab the paper and some doughnuts. Watch a movie in the middle of the day with fresh popcorn. Don’t bother cleaning up until the eleventh hour. Just enjoy the splendid imperfection of being the family you are right now…happy and relaxing together.

 

 

Christina Katz loves nothing better than relaxing deeply with the people she loves most so everyone can reboot and reconnect. She often wins at games of luck and is not afraid to crow about it.

Guest Contributor

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