Suppose your children were asked what one thing they really wish they could change about their family. That very question was asked of eighty-four thousand students in grades six through twelve who recently completed a USA Weekend survey.
It turns out that almost two-thirds of kids surveyed said that what the kids said was they wanted was not just more time but relaxed time. The kind of time a kid would consider as just plain “fun.” No expectations, no stress and no frantic pace. It’s the kind of time that creates family togetherness that relaxed, carefree time is also what kids crave and need.
Here are a few simple ways to create relaxed family time.
- Nighttime rituals: read a nighttime story; remind each other of the best part of the day; give hugs and kisses goodnight.
- Special greetings and ways to say “I love You”: rub noses for an “Eskimo kiss“; create your own family funny hugs.
- Celebration of successes: hang a flag on the front door when something special has happened to a family member:use a “fancy” plate at the dinner table when a family member has done something to deserve recognition.
- Birthday memories: each family member chooses his or her favorite birthday menu, cake, outing, and song to be piped through the household as a birthday” wake-up” call. Some families even hang a family member’s shirt on a flagpole or broomstick stuck in the front lawn to let the world (or at least the neighborhood) know it’s that person’s special day.
- Frivolous fun: Fly kites on Groundhog Day; play practical jokes on April Fool’s Day.
- Sports and outdoors: Go fishing on Father’s Day; be die-hard Chargers fans together.
- Volunteering and service projects: bake an extra turkey for Mrs.Jones on Thanksgiving; serve Christmas Eve dinner at the homeless shelter or help out at another,less “popular” time of year. Help your favorite charity as a family once a week or month.
- Enjoying each others company: spread a rug or towel on your living room floor,gather the troops, put on some up beat music, and serve simple sandwiches, finger food, and boxed drinks. Who says you have to go somewhere to have a good time together?
- Family Game Night: dust off the Chutes and Ladders, Yahtzee, Monopoly, Candy land, Go Fish, or that old deck of cards. Older kids might like Trouble, Uno, Kerplunk, Risk, or Porker. Some families hold Family Game Night once a week for thirty minutes to an hour. Have an assortment of games and let a different family members choose what you play each time.
I read the other day that research has proven that doing simple rituals enhances our feelings of togetherness and family belonging by almost 20 percent. What’s more those home traditions and customs also increase our kid’s social skills and development. So what are you doing to keep memories of your times together for your kids? Good ol’ fun sounds like time spent at grandma’s house. Doesn’t it?