We all have busy schedules: between work, school, homework, extracurricular activities and friends, there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day for vacuuming the house, let alone building some quality family time. But the memories you look back on later are the ones that come from special moments. Those aren’t necessarily anything big, like a family trip to Disneyworld. A moment can be small but when it happens again and again, it becomes something that provides security, something that everyone can count on in a busy world.
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Like everything else on the family calendar, things don’t get done unless they’re written down! So if everyone in the family always seem to be super busy, schedule a slice of time one weekday evening or on the weekend that everyone commits to having as family time.
Whether that’s a family game night, movie night, or doing something outdoors on the weekend, just knowing that you have that time together set aside takes the pressure off. After a while, it becomes a tradition that everyone looks forward to, so that you can all catch up with what’s going on and just spend time together without the pressure of having to get to the next scheduled event!
Setting up some new traditions that allow you to carve out a little of that time and create those memories is the best gift you can give to yourself and your family.
Honor special days
Whether it’s a birthday or to celebrate a big win on the soccer field, develop your personal way of celebrating those moments. Perhaps a ‘decorate your own cupcakes’ bar for the goalkeeper extraordinaire? Or maybe breakfast in bed for the mom who works so hard, on her birthday? Another cute idea is to decorate the person’s place at the dinner table who has something to celebrate! Whatever you do, make it a regular thing, so that it becomes a tradition that everyone in the family looks forward to, and you can celebrate the moments that matter together.
Go out and play for free
Whether you go for a hike in a local park or visit a part of your own city that you’ve never been to before, setting up a tradition—even once a month—of doing something as a family that costs little to nothing is a great way to reconnect. The point isn’t to go to a big theme park and spend a fortune. The point is to find activities that you can do as a family. Apple picking in the fall? Snowshoeing and snowman building in the winter? Hiking a new park in the spring, followed by a picnic? Beach or camping trips in the summer? You get the picture!
Family game night
Get everyone together in their PJs, with popcorn, snacks and drinks and pull out a favorite family board game to spend some quality time together. A rousing game of Pictionary can get everyone battling a serious case of the giggles! You can also go old school with a round of charades, or perhaps a classic card game like Go Fish. There are so many options available that will appeal to everyone in your house!
Get into a movie series together
Going to the theatre to see the latest installment of whatever movie is coming out is a great way to build a tradition! You can always start with the older movies at home, and watch them in order, to be followed by a fun night out at the movie theatre when the latest one comes out. Star Wars: Last Jedi, anyone? Take it up a notch and go for dinner first, and make it a real outing for everyone!
If your favorites are ALL out on DVD or available for digital download, you can space it out or binge watch three in a weekend! Whatever works for your family! Examples? The Harry Potter series, Star Trek or how about, for older kids, James Bond? The kids will get a kick out of the older ones—after all, who doesn’t love Roger Moore or Sean Connery as Bond?
Favorite food night
Does your family have a favorite meal that they can all agree on? Pick one night a week to be favorite meal night! Some people love a traditional Sunday dinner with roast beef and all the trimmings. Others like to kick up the fun and have breakfast for dinner on Wednesdays. Whatever works for your family, it will become a tradition that everyone looks forward to, week in and week out.
A favorite for so many families is Sunday brunch. Everyone in PJs, pancakes in funny shapes, and lots of giggles all around! Another option is to have one night a week where the kids make dinner! Lay down a few ground rules (because gummy bears AREN’T dinner in anyone’s book!) and let them go to town. Remind them that they have to clean up too and calling for pizza is not cooking!
Do some good in the world
Nothing brings families together like having a common goal. Setting out to work on a service project that will better the lives of others is a great way to engage as a family and have a teachable moment too. Sit down as a family and think of things in your local community that you can do, whether it’s working at the local food bank or putting together boxes of toys for kids at the holidays; just make it a project where you all give back to your community together and you’ll see that it will bring you closer than you could ever have believed was possible.
This is a good one if you have several children: try and schedule time for each parent to have one on one time with each child. The child gets some time where they have the undivided attention of the parent and can do something together that they both enjoy, without having to compete with their siblings. Whether they say so or not, all children crave this kind of attention, so whether that’s baking muffins or going for a ‘lunch date’, it’s important for each child to build that connection individually, as well as within the family as a whole.
A few holiday traditions
The holidays is a great time to indulge in some traditions: older kids are home from university, younger kids are off school and if the weather is right, a whole lot of seasonal fun can be yours for the asking. Some ideas? How about going caroling as a family? Get a few friends and neighbors involved too! It’s a great way to get around your neighborhood and wish everyone a little holiday cheer! Or how about finding a place where you can go on an actual horse drawn sleigh ride? There’s nothing like it, particularly at night, and it appeals to kids of all ages. Finally, just go around your neighborhood on an annual ‘lightseeing’ tour to check out the lights and decorations. It’s an easy event, on foot or in the car, that you can enjoy at any age.
However you find time to spend time together as a family, remember that it’s those little moments that they will remember for a lifetime, so make sure there are a lot of them!