School is in full swing, and the term "hectic schedule" just took on a whole new meaning. If you feel like there's a void in your life where you kids used to be, read on for tips to reestablish the bond. By Kayla Miller, REDBOOK.
Start a family ritual each morning by giving each family member a kiss before walking out the door.
2. Same place, same time
Tough time coordinating schedules? Download Kidgistix, an app that helps coordinate everyone's calendars. It'll get your family all into the same routine.
3. Carpool chitchat
Take advantage of all those school and after-school activity runs. Switch off the radio and simply talk and connect.
4. Fridge friendlies
Post a whiteboard on your fridge or backdoor, and stock it with Post-Its and erasable pens. Use it for a family communication center: "Good luck at your game today, Josh" or "Kerry, let us know how your speech went. We're cheering for you!"
5. Tech timeout
Set aside sacred unplugged time - an hour a night or whenever family members are gathered together. Cell phones go off, TV is unplugged and you can finally focus on one another.
6. Dear Abby...
Start a file of advice columns, like Dear Abby. Find ones that are especially relevant to the ages of you kids (like drinking and driving, cheating on a test, etc.). Then, pull them out, read aloud and ask your children how they'd respond. Just don't tell them the real advice until you hear where your kids are coming from!
7. Laughing matters
Ask your teen to invite a friend or two to show you and the rest of the family how to compete in Just Dance or a Wii Sports competition. They'll appreciate the fact that you've welcomed their friends into what's sure to be an experience that gives them lots of laughs, both at you and with you.
8. Monopolize your family time
Dust off those game boards and set up a family game night. It makes no difference which night (or even day) it is, just block it into your calendar so everyone knows Saturday at 7 o'clock is Scene It? time.
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9. Pump some iron
Turn your garage into a gym. Try hitting several garage sales to find inexpensive weights or exercise equipment. Then, instead of having your family members all disappear to the gym or park, you can exercise together at home (and at no cost!).
10. YouTube Sensations
Ask your kids to show you some videos on YouTube that they think you'll find funny. You'll share a great laugh, but if you come across inappropriate material, you'll have a good opportunity to ask them to weigh in on the not-so-friendly family material.
11. Start a tradition
Schedule regular family-time. Whether it's dinner out at your favorite restaurant, or a family flag football game, it'll give you and your loved ones something to look forward to each week.
12. Put down roots
A closed social network designed for complex, modern families, Rootsy is a closed, invite-only social network perfect for sharing pictures, videos, and memories among family members.
Use big chores - like cleaning out the basement or painting a room over - to get the whole family involved. It makes less work for you and teaches the kids a thing or two.
14. Get social
If you have young children under 13, Facebook isn't an option for staying in-sync. Instead, join Kazaana account, which works like the popular social networking site, but with 3D avatars, is designed to be children- and grandparent-friendly.
15. Turn on the TV
Pick a program to watch as a family each week, whether it be a cooking show or a sitcom. Don't hesitate to DVR so that the the ritual fits your schedule.
16. Quotes to live by
Pick a new quote each day and share it with your kids to see what they think about it - sometimes kids understand life's universal truths better than adults.
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17. Multitasking Even if you're working on a report for work and the kids are busy with their homework, as long as you all are in the same room together, you'll feel that undeniable sense of family connection.
18. Social media guru
If you have kids away at camp, boarding school, or college, Facebook and Twitter are great tools to stay connected all the time without being that mom who calls every. Single. Day.
19. A Fido for the family
Get a family pet. Choosing an animal, raising it and caring for it can be such a rewarding experience. Your new furry friend will become part of the family before you know it!
20. Be a traditionalist
If you have the time, traditional nightly family sit-down dinners are helpful for keeping up with what's going on in your husband's and children's lives.
21. Let's make a date
If you have more than one child, consider scheduling regular one-on-one time with each. Try to cater to each child's unique interests rather than doing the same thing on your special date.
22. Librarian for a day
Read aloud to your children, whether it's after school or at bedtime. Not only will you be spending quality time together, but you'll also help increase your child's literacy. Bonus points!
23. Peaks and pits
Take a cue from the Kardashians and have everyone discuss the "peak" and "pit" of their day at dinnertime. The famous family was on to something when they started the trend on their reality show -- you'll get a more detailed answer rather than the much-dreaded "fine" response that greets asking how everyone's day went.
24. Give back
Volunteer as a family to help a charity or take a Saturday morning to work at the food pantry. You'll serve someone in-need while spending time together.
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25. Master chef
Cook together! Not only is it a great time to hang out, but when your child helps to prepare meals, he or she will become more open to trying new foods. That's a win-win in our book.
26. Pitch a tent
Go camping. Even if it's in your own backyard, it'll be an adventure.
27. Read all about it
Skip hours of reading boring history books and get Audacese instead. This tablet tool, which features animated storybooks such as David & Goliath, helps foster a culture of learning.
28. Eggs, bread, milk
Have your children add to or help you make up the grocery list. Not only will they be happier at meal-time, but it makes a good opportunity to teach some nutrition basics.
29. Work it out
Get physical with a biking or hiking day trip. It means no complaints about car-sickness or fights about who sits where, plus the chance to see a nearby site.
30. Get artsy
Many museums and galleries offer special, kid-friendly tours and exhibits. Skip seeing another movie, and head over on the next rainy Saturday.
For more ways to keep your family close, visit Redbookmag.com.
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