Have the holiday festivities left you craving some consistency, calm, and connections with those who matter the most in your day-to-day? We’ve got just the thing. From family dinner ideas to a whole lot of hugs and kisses, these totally achievable daily habits will strengthen your family’s bond and help set your intentions for the year ahead. Read on for 20 simple ways to supercharge your family’s connections in the year ahead.
1. Laugh and be cheerful. Laughter really is the best medicine. You may not have time in a busy day to sit down for an extended play session with your kiddo, but there’s always time to laugh and be silly. Keep a list of jokes for kidsto read aloud in the car while you’re driving, tell them a funny story from your childhood while waiting to buy groceries, watch your favorite comedic sitcom or movie together on the weekend. Make laughter and lightheartedness a priority in your home to help alleviate the seriousness of the world we live in.
2. Get and stay organized. Speaking of being cheerful, it’s so much easier to accomplish this when everyone knows where their shoes are when you’re trying to get out the door in the mornings (here are some more tips for a smooth morning liftoff). Luckily, you don’t have to move mountains to reap the benefits of a little organization. Check out these awesome ways to get organized.
3. Eat more veggies. Don’t panic. You can still succeed as a family, even if no one likes kale. However, eating veggies, and eating healthily in general, can contribute to more energy, better sleep, and a more positive attitude. Here are a few predictions for what healthy eating in 2019 might look like.
4. Celebrate even small victories. Did your daughter score a basket in gym today? That's totally awesome! Did your preschooler count to 20 without getting stuck on number 11? No way! It's easy to save the celebrations for birthdays, end-of-seasons, and report cards, but it's way more fun to party over the particulars of life's daily victories.
5. Get more rest. Can we get an "amen?" No one knows that families function better when everyone's rested than parents do. Getting the kids (and ourselves) to bed—even 20 minutes each day—earlier is a game changer, and here's the science to back an earlier bed time up.
6. Document and memorialize. Some of the most poetic moments of life happen between the big stuff. If something your kid or partner does speaks to your heart, capture the moment for posterity. These tips will help you make the most of your second (or third) career as family photographer. Living room dance parties, your kid singing while he brushes his hair before school... you'll be glad you have it all to watch and remember.
7. Be present. There’s a famous quote by Catherine M. Wallace: “Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what. If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big. Because to them it was always big stuff.” Scary as it is, we are their safe landing place in a chaotic world. Make it comfy-cozy by giving them these words of encouragement every day. Beyond being there to listen to your kids, set aside time each day to put away all devices and screens to listen to your partner too.
8. Cultivate optimism. When you see the glass as half-full, it’s easy to feel good about your lot in life. Teaching your children how to look on the bright side does more than check a cliche quota—it improves their outlook on life, and in turn, makes them more resilient. Families that cultivate a spirit of optimism have kids who can bounce back from life’s turbulence.
9. Express emotions respectfully. It’s okay to feel all the feels—both good and bad. But how we communicate our feelings to one another in our families is important in teaching kids how to self regulate and build confidence. Intentionally practicing mindfulness
10. Eat at least one meal together. Maybe dinner's not the meal for your family because of practices, work schedules, or varying bedtimes. No worries. Whatever the meal—breakfast, lunch, or dinner—you can make family meals more special.
11. Show appreciation and express gratitude. There is so much to be appreciative of every day in a household. From putting laundry in the hamper to reloading the toilet paper roll, the expression of gratitude makes everyone want to keep up the good work. As with much in life, gratitude can be learned. Start with these simple ways to teach the kiddos how to be grateful.
12. Foster philanthropy. It feels good to do good, and families who find ways to help others often are more generous and supportive of one another. And in today's fast paced world, you don't even have to leave your house to volunteer. From local to global, there's something every family can rally behind.
13. Be goofballs. Create a home dance club for your kids. Shoot clean underoos at each other like slingshots. Bowl with toilet paper. Make a fort with sheets and tell scary stories with flashlights. It's okay to be goofballs with your kids. They love you no matter what, and they'll remember it the next time they're faced with an opportunity to let loose and have fun versus sit on the sidelines.
14. Spend more time outside than in front of a screen. Don't get us wrong—we're not knocking screens. But we all realize it's easy to spend more time in front of a screen and less time outside, particularly during the winter months. But with experts suggesting that children should get at least 3 hours of outdoor play time a day, it's important to get your kids off the couch and out the door.
15. Write love notes. No matter how embarrassed the big ones might act, there's still a 5 year old somewhere in that big growing boy or girl who's silently celebrating every time you pop a note in the old lunch box.
16. Learn something new together. It must seem like we know all the answers to our kids. How fun would it be to show them our vulnerability at learning something completely new, with them? And what a great way to remind ourselves that virtually everything is a new endeavor for our tykes, and comes with the same frustrations and sense of accomplishment.
Photo: Skeeze via Pixaby
17. Break a sweat together. We know it's on every adult's list of resolutions, but our kids have exercise guidelines to follow, too. Why not join ranks and tackle a family fitness goal this year? You'll make memories in addition to increased bone density and muscle mass.
18. Set and support one another's goals. Does your 7 year-old want to dance backup for Beyonce? Take a family hip hop class together. Does your partner want to run a marathon? Register for a family fun run, and train together. Whoever has a goal, encourage them to say it out loud—and find a way to participate in their journey to success.
19. Forgive each other. Sometimes we can all be in need of a little forgiveness. Don't let your kids be the only ones saying "I'm sorry." When we mess up in the parenting department, 'fess up. Ask for forgiveness. It makes an impact (And guess what? Kids are the BEST at forgiving!). Same goes for when they mess up. Be fast to forgive, and leave it in the past.
20. Hug, kiss, cuddle, repeat. A good, long hug has more power than we realize. Studies show that hugs from a trusted loved one can boost oxytocin and serotonin levels, relax muscles, strengthen immunity and decrease stress and anxiety among many other benefits. Just think of all those healing, restorative powers you have in your very own arms.
—Beth Shea & Shelley Massey