As your family grows and life progresses, it gets harder to find ways to connect and spend time together. Even recently married couples can find it challenging to carve out space in their schedules for togetherness. But, as is the case with most things in life, if it’s important, you will find a way to make time for it. And creating memories and enjoying time together should definitely take priority.
The good news is you can do plenty of easy things to enhance your family bond and spend more time with each other. Try incorporating these simple tips into your daily life to foster closeness among your family.
Go to bed at the same time
Coordinating bedtimes for multiple children might be tricky, but you’ll see results if you can make the change. Not everyone has to fall asleep at the same time, but initiating a bedtime routine at the same time each night together as a family can help foster lasting, healthy habits, according to pediatrician Dr. Laura Jana. This could mean scheduling bath time at the same time each night or settling onto the couch for storytime before bed.
Going to bed at roughly the same time each night can have a real impact on the relationship of a family or couple. According to a study published in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, married couples who went to bed at roughly the same time reported less conflict, more in-depth conversation, and more time spent engaged in shared activities. Ask your kids for their input, and come to an agreement on a nightly routine that works for everyone and provides a dedicated space to spend time together.
Read together and have discussions
If you’re already reading bedtime stories to your kids, take it a step further by discussing the books you read. Studies show that reading even to young infants can help form positive relationships with books and set them up for a lifelong love affair with reading. Discussing what you’ve read also helps younger children develop their comprehension and critical thinking skills.
Encourage your family members to identify what they liked and didn’t like about the reading material, and ask them why they feel this way. Respectful dialogue between family members demonstrates to everyone that it’s possible to disagree with someone or have a differing opinion and still respect them.
Establish a family ritual or routine
Don’t limit family rituals to holidays or special events like birthdays and anniversaries. Taking time to create a unique tradition gives couples and families a way to process emotions during different phases of life, and it can help reestablish your connection with each other during trying times.
Pick a day or time of the month—every second Tuesday, for example—and collectively commit to spending time together as a family doing something you all love. It could be as simple as a regular pizza-and-movie night as long as you are spending time together.
Routines and rituals give families a sense of identity and help establish important values. Children learn from example, so dedicating time to creating memories together shows kids that their family prioritizes interpersonal interactions and experiences.
Give back to the community
To raise socially conscious children, parents need to exhibit the same behavior. Together as a family unit, choose an organization or charity and begin to volunteer your time and resources. Ask your kids for input if they are old enough to understand.
Family bonding while serving the community reinforces prosocial behavior and empathy towards others. Similar to creating a family ritual, giving back to a charity or community organization helps establish a sense of identity, pride, and ownership in the community.
A close-knit family isn’t just born; it is nurtured and encouraged. However, as we all know, life can get hectic and relationships might get caught in the day-to-day rush. A little planning and effort will help you re-establish connections among family members and improve existing bonds.
But don’t limit yourself to just the four items on this list. Brainstorm with your family more ways you can spend time together to create lasting memories and strengthen relationships.