This week is National Families Week so we are sharing ten things you can do with and for your family to promote health, happiness and a strong bond.
- Exercise together. We all know how great exercise is for our bodies and minds and when we make it a priority for ourselves and with our children, we are passing on that sentiment. If you’re playing a team game with your children, such as cricket or soccer, it is also a good opportunity to model turn-taking, having a go, and good sportsmanship. Your children may also enjoy competing with their parents and seeing if they can best them. You never know, you may all learn something new or improve your skills. And obviously, everyone will benefit from the actual physical component, (and perhaps everyone will sleep better that night too!).
- Play together. This is a no brainer – playing together as a family, whether a board game, building with Lego, or role-playing with dolls, is a great way to bond. We often get caught up in our everyday duties and put off playing with our kids when they ask. However, it is a great way for you to connect with your children and show that you appreciate their interests. This week try and make a concerted effort to say ‘yes’. Carve out some time and hopefully have it as a regular event from this point onward. The more effort we put in now to bond with our children, the more comfortable they will feel to come to us for support when they are teenagers and young adults..
- Cook together. At The Organic Place we love nothing better than sharing our love of the fresh, organic, healthy food. Passing on a life skills like: choosing organic produce, growing your own fruit and vegetables, cooking and baking, is something very valuable we can do for our children. It doesn’t matter what age your children are, you can tailor their involvement in cooking and baking in relation to their abilities. Children as young as one or two years old can help with adding ingredients, mixing, cracking eggs and decorating. If you want assistance in preparing dinner, there are safe peelers available for children, or you could have older siblings chopping with supervision.
- Eat together. The best thing about cooking or baking as a family is getting to enjoy the fruits of your labour once your done. We’ve all heard that eating as a family is an excellent ritual to practise but the fact is that in many families this can be difficult when juggling work schedules, sports and other extracurricular commitments. This week try and make an effort to eat together as a family at least once or twice. And when you do get that precious time together, make sure it is used wisely. It might be like pulling teeth but try and get everyone to share something about their day: the best, the most difficult and the funniest moments are a good place to start.
- Autumn cleaning. Before we head into the depths of winter, it’s the perfect time to do a big clean out and spruce up your home. And why shouldn’t the whole family get involved? Go through cupboards for old clothes to donate; make the most of any sunny or windy days to air out mattresses and car seat covers; file away any school projects and pictures by each child; reorganise any shelves or drawers that have become overrun with clutter. Everyone will feel better living in a well-organised home where every shoe can be found on a school morning!
- Do something for others. Yet another valuable lesson can be passed on if your family takes the time to think of how you can assist people in need. The children can help take the aforementioned old clothes to donate, choose some toys to give away, make a meal for someone going through a tough time, visit the elderly with some home baked treats, or write a card for a friend who is unwell. Doing something kind for others has been proven to be good for the giver as well the recipient. It’s nice to be able to see the world from another’s point of view and be grateful for what you have.
- Get into the outdoors together and away from the screens. We could all do with less screen time and removing yourself from the temptation is probably the best thing you can do. Go for a road trip, hike up a mountain, check out a waterfall, bushwalk, or even visit the local park. There are plenty of amazing places in our state, and there is always something nearby. Pick a place, pack a picnic and enjoy some fresh air and family time. It may even bring up some questions from the kids about nature.
- Give responsibilities. In our society where helicopter parenting is on the rise, our children are at risk of having everything done for them. As tempting as it is to do things ourselves, as we know we can do them quicker and better, it is great to give children responsibilities around the home. When you have your family dinner you can discuss with your children what kinds of household duties might be age appropriate for them to do every week and how much money pocket money they will receive, if you decide to give any. Any small jobs may be useful in easing the burden on the adults in the house. Whether it is: collecting and sorting laundry, setting or packing up dinner, stacking or unstacking the dishwasher, for older children; to collecting veggies from the veggie patch, collecting mail, or packing away toys, for younger kids; there are plenty to choose from. It is nice to view your family as a team that works and plays together.
- Make some family rituals. There is nothing more special than a ritual or tradition that is just for your family. And even more wonderful is that you can make up your own. You could have a family movie and pizza night, a cafe and park stop after Saturday morning sport or a walk before dinner time. Take some time to decide what works for your family and your routine.
- Have special time with each parent. It is by no means easy to have one on one time with your children, especially the more children that you have, and it is no doubt even more difficult if there is only one adult in the family. However, it is a wonderful opportunity to bond with your children individually, to get to know them and their interests a little better, and also to make them feel special and heard. Whether it is half a day once a month, a weekend trip away, or just a sneaky milkshake after basketball practice every week, try and schedule some time for each child with each parent over the next few weeks. It can involve a lot of juggling schedules and organising babysitters but it is absolutely worth the trouble.
What are you up to with your family this week?