As our boys grow older it’s an increasing challenge to find ways to bring our family closer together.
Our boys are ages six and eight and this is the first year they are both in school full-time. Which means more time with peers and less time with family.
They are also involved in a greater number of activities. This means that in our free time we are often frantically going to and from where we need to be – theatre, soccer, church group, basketball – the list goes on and on.
As our schedule increased, our time as a family decreased and it was apparent I needed to do something to bring my family closer together or we would grow ever more distant through the crushing obligations of life.
Maybe you can relate to what I am saying. Maybe you are where I was and are just looking for a few ideas to help bring your own family closer together. If so, here are a few tried and true ways to bring your family closer.
Five big tips to bring your family closer together
1 – Remove the phones
Let’s face it, modern technology has its time and place and it’s not during family time.
I use to be so guilty of making sure my phone was with me – always. During breakfast it sat on the counter. Dinner, it was on my placemat. Then one day my oldest son made a remark that stung – he said “I can’t wait until I get a cell phone.” On the surface the remark was no big deal, but as I thought about it and sat with it later that night I realized that to him I was plugging into an entirely different world.
Even by having my phone near me I was sending the signal to him that the phone was more important than our time together. I was showing him that I was ready to answer the phone any time.
I began putting away my phone and only checking in with it at certain times of the day. I check it in the morning, lunch and after they go to bed. If someone really has something important to tell me they can call me and I will answer a phone call. Otherwise, text, social media and the likes can wait.
2 – Eat dinner together
There are scientifically proven reasons to eat dinner together. Reasons include promoting family happiness and strengthening family relationships. Discover more reasons to make time for family dinner by reading this article by Momalot.
Dinner doesn’t have to be extravagant. Throw something in the crockpot or instant pot and gather around the table. Eating dinner together is about sharing time, not necessarily what’s on the menu.
3 -Have designated family times
In addition to having dinner together three or more times each week, set aside a designated time of the week specifically for family.
For instance, in our home every Friday night is family movie night. We make popcorn, order pizza, and snuggle up on the couch for a movie we’ve all picked out together.
We started this tradition when our boys were just two and four and it’s a tradition we’ve all grown to love. Sometimes during the week one of the boys will say “I wish it was Friday so we can have family movie night.” They know, no matter what, that is the one night of the week we have set aside special for our family.
4 – Create an Open Door Policy
I’ve worked from home since our oldest was a baby. As a blogger and network marketing professional, there are times when I need to focus and get things done.
In the past I have set aside “office hours” for me to work. These were times when the kids were not allowed in my office and were to focus on a book or a television show so I could work.
I didn’t keep that policy for very long, and here’s why. Before too long my kids will be teenagers. Teenagers naturally don’t want to share everything with their parents.
Creating an “open door” policy today sets my kids up for good habits of naturally wanting to share with me tomorrow.
In other words, the more I shut them out today, the more they will shut me out tomorrow. Our kids mimic our behavior.
5 – Fill their emotional tank first
Filling your child’s “emotional tank” is a term I first learned from Dr. Ross Campbell in his book ‘How to Really Love Your Child.’
Imagine that each child has an emotional tank inside of them. When they feel loved, that tank is full. When a child is doing a lot of whining, tears and bad behavior for no apparent reason, it is likely that their emotional tank is on empty.
Using our words, is one way to fill your child’s emotional tank. You can say things like ‘I love you,’ ‘You’re special,’ ‘You did that really well’ or ‘It’s such fun playing this game with you.’
I’ve discovered my kids do better and our family is closer when my husband and I remember to fill the kids’ tanks first. For example, if I need to work on a project, I will first spend at least 30-minutes quality time with our kids. That fills their emotional tanks so they feel loved and their needs are met, and they are less likely to need me while I work.
In his book ‘How to Really Love Your Child,’ Dr. Ross provides additional skills that will help your child feel truly loved and accepted.
6 – Work Towards a Family Goal
Something exciting and easy that can bring your family closer together is working towards a family goal.
Your family goal can be something big like saving up money for a vacation. Or you can have a smaller goal like collecting cans of food for a school food drive.
Whatever the goal is just make sure it is attainable and something the entire family can participate in. It’s also a good idea to make a visual reminder of the goal, and possibly even include the steps it takes to achieve it. You may want to consider also including a date to accomplish the goal by.
Keep growing your family closer every day
As you work towards bringing your family closer together keep in mind this is not an overnight process. Small daily strides towards this overall achievement will prove the most beneficial.
Allow yourself some grace as you work to bring your family closer together. For example, if you vow to establish a family dinner time every night but screw up here and there, know that it is okay.
Just the fact that you are even reading this article and wanting to make adjustments to bring your family closer together is a huge step in the right direction. Honor where you are right now and know that with consistent effort you will get to where you want to be.
Do you have other ideas about how to bring a family closer together? Please share them below! If you know of a family that can use this article, please share or post on Pinterest.