When I see families in counseling I ask them to describe what family life is like at home and what has brought them to counseling. Often times, families share a desire to re-connect with each other. In counseling, we can spend the next few sessions talking about how to re-connect and enjoy time together as a family again but the “homework” assignments are often very simple. Not only are they simple but they are applicable for anyone looking to connect better with their family. Here are 5 ways you can connect with your family today:
5 Ways To Connect With your Family
1. Family Meeting. A family meeting can provide each family member with an opportunity to share high and low points of the day, things that they are grateful for, and things they would like to change. Parents can help define the expectations of the family meeting and topics that will be covered. I consider there to be two essential parts of a family meeting: 1) each member of the family is allowed time to speak, and 2) the meeting ends with a positive take away. While disappointments and low points can be important things to share, family meetings should also include things the family is doing well.
2. Eat Together . This sounds so simple but between school, work, sports, errands, and all of life’s happenings, it can be difficult to find time to eat together. If you are able to, try to arrange your schedule to make this happen. This can be a natural time to connect with each other and share stories.
3. Head Outside. Most of us have experienced the benefits of fresh air and some time and space to run wild. In addition to these benefits, heading outside with your family will get you out of your routine and in to a new environment. By changing your environment you also set yourself up to break old patterns and start something new by connecting with each other.
4. Family Date Day. Many parents understand the importance of planning dates- opportunities to enjoy something fun as a couple. Families should plan these special times too! Family members can take turns choosing an activity and limits can be set on time allotted for activity and budget. Depending on your time and budget activities can include going to the park, playing a card game, taking a hike, doing a scavenger hunt, mini golf, roller skating, bike riding, the possibilities are endless. Try something new and create a fun memory!
5. Read. If the thought of planning an activity or physically going somewhere is too exhausting to think about, just read. This activity requires no planning and little effort. Children of all ages will enjoy being read to and the act of doing something together will promote bonding. Goodreads provides an excellent list of books to enjoy together as a family.
Connection is all about turning off your media and spending time together intentionally. Although a movie night might make a great family date, continuously using the TV to avoid talking to each other or spending your time together on your phone will not increase your family connectedness. Make a plan for your time together and enjoy each other! These are just a few very simple ideas – I would love to hear what’s worked for your family!
Amanda Regalia, M.A. is a marriage and family counselor and clinician for The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. Amanda specializes in working with families and children ages 5 and up. She is passionate about helping people to create practical solutions that support them in achieving their goals and improving their relationships and life.