By Debra Snyder, Ph.D.
Author of Intuitive Parenting
It's back-to-school time again. There are supplies to purchase, clothes to sort through, and a fresh outlook on the academic adventures to obtain. Quality family time often takes a back seat to sporting events, car pool responsibilities, and the hustle and bustle of every possible school activity. Our relationships with our children can greatly suffer when we allow the actions of living to overtake what we value in life.
Why not put your family first this fall by making a commitment to celebrate your connections?
Dedicate a day with your loved ones to "just be" together. Clear everyone's schedules and make your relationships a priority for the entire day. This is not the time to play video games, watch sports, work on the computer, or be on autopilot. You do not need to spend money, take a vacation, or make any significant sacrifice. Simply spend conscious time together. Be present with one another, moment by moment. If a whole day is too much to start with, aim for half a day or a few hours.
Here are some ideas of things to do to get you started:
• Play board games, do a puzzle or paint a "love" picture together.
• Cook a special meal as a family with everyone's favorite recipes.
• Make something together, such as a birdhouse for the yard or decorations for the home.
• Plant flowers, herbs, or even a vegetable garden.
• Sing songs, play music, and have a dance party.
• Go for a walk, bike ride, or family drive to a new place.
I have fond memories of making paper chains and tissue carnations with my grandmother when I was a young child. We would decorate the entire house with our creations, taking pride in our work. Although it has been over 30 years, I still feel the resonance of those loving moments when I think back to them. Remember, it is the love and pure intention expressed during simple tasks that leaves lasting imprints on our hearts.
After your celebration of family, take the time to write about your experiences and impressions in a journal. Did you enjoy the time together? What worked? What didn't? Could you make it the entire day without resorting to watching television or logging on to the computer? If not, write about that too, without judgment. It is difficult to expect immediate closeness and bonding if your family does not have the habit of spending quality time together. Take it bit by bit and work up to longer periods of time. Keep your heart open and attitude light and you'll be on the right track to fostering closeness within your family.
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