Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Top 10 Tips for Family Closeness

*         Make family time a priority. Use pen and ink to schedule family time. Pencil can be erased. So often, family time takes a back seat to the business of the day. When you put your family first, you are showing your children that they are important.

*         Have meals together. Coming together as a family unit on a regular basis gives you all a chance to catch up with each other. It also allows you to huddle together, and give your family your undivided attention. Turn off the TV, iPods, and don't answer the phone. You can even put a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the front door so that friends won't knock (and you keep the neighbors guessing!) Please remember: Mealtime is not the time for reprimands or confrontations.

*         Spend one-on-one time with each child. Whether you have one child or many, children like to spend individual time with each parent. So, make a date! The anticipation of time alone can be very exciting. The activity is not nearly as important as knowing they have time coming up to spend with you.alone! Whenever possible, choose an activity that you both have an interest in. If it is difficult to find a shared activity, then child's choice (within reason) should apply. Remember, this is time for your children to have you all to themselves, enjoying your company and sharing their interests with you. One word of caution: don't make a promise if you are not absolutely sure you can keep it.

*         Take outings/vacations together. Time away together gives you a chance to leave the daily grind behind and spend time focused on each other. Try to take a little getaway; it can be simple or elaborate; inexpensive or a month's salary. It really doesn't matter. Or how about just running away for the day together and having a picnic, hitting tennis balls, or taking the children out for pizza and a movie?

*         Develop traditions and rituals. Family traditions create a sense of belonging and cohesiveness. They can help define your family, sharing customs unique to you and yours. Traditions can center around holidays, ethnicity, cultural or religious practices and life cycle events. Or, make up your own. You can have bedtime rituals, weekend traditions, etc. Schedule a weekly time that all family members need to be present and accounted for. This could be pizza, popcorn and movie night, Sunday brunch, etc. Foster childhood traditions that can be carried into adulthood.

*         Create and share memories. Keep a memory box for each child filled with photographs, artwork, school papers, birthday cards, etc. A scrapbook of your child's accomplishments, milestones and successes is a great way to build self-esteem. Share pictures and stories of when you were growing up. Children like to hear 'little mommy' or 'little daddy' stories, as long as they aren't the, "Well, when I was your age" sagas.

*         Show an interest in your children's hobbies, etc. Showing interest in your children's activities, even if you wouldn't personally choose them for yourself, is a fabulous way to validate your children and maintain a close bond. So, if they ask you to play or hear all about it, by all means, do so. And appreciate that they want your involvement.

*         Attend your children's activities. Nothing conveys love to your children clearer than your presence. Being at their sporting events, concerts, plays, field trips, and so on, will help continue your family closeness. And if all of the members of the family can be there to enjoy each other's endeavors, all the better.

*         Delight in your children daily. Find reasons to be glad you're a parent, and share them with your children. Affirmations such as, "I'm so lucky to be your mom," or "You really brighten up my day," are simple ways to let them know that they bring joy to your life.

*         Laugh a lot. Building humor into your family routine can make daily life more enjoyable. It might include having everyone tell something funny about their day, a new joke or even something silly they made up. It can be making silly faces (yes, mom and dad, you too), playing a game with mixed up rules or watching a funny video together. When you're laughing together you are usually not arguing!