3 Ways to Recharge Your Family Life

3 Ways to Recharge Your Family Life This Year3 Ways to Recharge Your Family Life This YearBetween work, after-school activities, the call of your smartphone, and all of the other distractions in life, it can be hard to make time for your family to simple spend time together and recharge your batteries. My family, however, did successfully manage to take some time for ourselves last year. How how we did it, and how you can too!

Recharge Rule #1: Try something new, together.
Last year, I got on a pair of skis and hurtled my body down a steep hill in the name of family time. Okay, so the hill I skied down -- over and over, as it turns out, because it was danged fun -- was a rather wimpy slope that bored even then-six-year-old Owen. But it was a milestone for me, because I'd always sworn I wanted nothing to do with downhill skiing.

I've never been much of a physical thrill-seeker and I just didn't see the point of purposely doing something dangerous for fun…until I strapped on those skis and took my first unsteady, but amazingly fun, trip down the bunny hill.

We're planning another ski trip this winter and I love that we've found something fun we can all do together. Is there something you've been avoiding or putting off that has the potential to grow into a family activity that could bring a lifetime of memories?

Related: 10 surprising benefits of taking a walk

Recharge Rule #2: Make a practice of changing your mind.
As a parent, I cling to my standards. The way I see it, even an arbitrary rule can have value if it helps Mom and Dad flex their "boundary-enforcing" muscles. But sometimes, I find myself clinging to old ways of thinking about things for no good reason. Being firm and consistent is a wonderful parenting value, but so is a willingness to fairly consider new information or changing circumstances, or just admit that maybe your initial reaction wasn't quite logical.

This year I made a point of really examining some of my "old" mindsets and rules and deciding which ones still made sense. Which is why my responsible, well-behaved 9-year-old son William wound up with a Kindle Fire under the Christmas tree, even though I'd sworn for years that no pre-teen child should be trusted with such an expensive electronic gadget.

I think we all have those parenting topics we "took a stand" on long ago, only now we can't even remember why. Do you have any rules that could use some re-examining?

Recharge Rule #3: Have an adventure together.
We all have a memory of the family road trip that went wrong, that camping disaster or the big holiday mishap. The great thing about those adventures is that, while they can be frustrating and annoying when they're happening, they also create some of the best family memories later. There's something about facing - and overcoming - a challenge with the people closest to you that can help you become an even tighter unit.

This year, faced with the reality that my children are growing up right before my eyes and I only have a few years with all of us together under one roof, my husband and I made a rather drastic decision: to plan an extended trip to South America in late 2013. While I know the opportunity to travel and experience a new culture will be tremendously valuable for all of us, I also believe that facing the challenges of learning a new language and navigating a strange new place will make us a stronger family.

Of course, not everyone can take off to another country for six months or a year, but are there some ways you can inject a sense of adventure into your family life? Plan a "roughing it" camping trip, take cooking classes together, enter a family project in the fair, or just take up a hobby that none of you are familiar with.

Facing adversity together - even if it's in small doses - is a sure way to rev up your cooperative skills and create lasting family memories.

- By Megan Francis

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Meagan Francis lives in St. Joseph, MI with her husband and five kids; who range in age from two to teen. Meagan shares her parental missteps, success stories, and what she's learned along the way via her blog The Happiest Mom, and book "The Happiest Mom: 10 Secrets To Enjoying Motherhood."

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