by Ali Katzwww.hotmesstomindfulmom.com
In the mad rush of jobs, school work, social obligations, and sports teams, quality time as a family seems harder to come by than ever. If I want more time to just be "mom" and enjoy my kids, I need to put as much planning into it as I do every other area of our lives.
Here are some of my favorite ways to create space to simply enjoy each other and strengthen our bonds as a family unit. Summer is a great time to implement new routines and rituals without the pressure of school and strict schedules.Meals are a tech-free zone
We eat dinner as a family as many nights a week as our schedule will allow. There is no technology of any kind allowed. No answering the home phone, no television, and no cell phones anywhere near the table. Rides in the car are tech free
I love sending my kids off for the day with them feeling as if they had my undivided attention. That means no talking on the phone, or texting at a traffic light while they are in the car with me. I use this time in the morning to ask what about their day feels exciting, and I share what I have going on. I think it's important for my kids to know that I have a life too, and I don't sit home all day just waiting for them!
I use the ride home from camp or an activity to hear about their friends, and if they like what I packed for lunch.Special dates with each child
Having one-on-one time with each of my kids is very important to me. I find that perfection can often be the enemy of moving forward with a plan, so I don't put pressure on our date to be the most exciting day of their lives, I simply want us to enjoy each other's company.
Special dates can be shooting hoops on the driveway, coloring together or spending time curled up on the couch and reading a book. You don't even have to leave the house!Family Game Night
I aim to have a family game night about once a week. If we have a night with no obligations, we play games as a family after dinner. I make a big deal as we are cleaning up that the kids should each pick out a game to play. Not Overcommitting
Extra commitments can often be a major time suck, so we should only say "yes
" to them if it is a heartfelt one, not because we feel obligated. There are ways to say "no" nicely, without offending anyone when our heart isn't in the task.
If we say yes to everything because we feel pressured or guilty, it is inevitable that time as a family will suffer. Look for something to take off your plate and re-allocate that time as "family time
Spending time in nature is a wonderful opportunity for healthy movement and quality conversation. There aren't any distractions, and kids tend to open up when they are side by side like on a walk, instead of face to face feeling pressure to talk.Volunteer Together
Many organizations offer ways for families to volunteer together. I can't think of a better way to bond, than by giving back to the community as a family. Ask your kids what interests them, and find an organization that fits their goals. It could be helping other kids, feeding the homeless, or caring for animals.Cooking Together
Cookies and brownies are always fun, but the older my kids get, the more they enjoy helping to chop veggies and prepare the dinner we will be sharing that night. My hope is always that as they chop because the more veggies I can get in the better! Cooking side by side also creates an amazing opportunity for quality conversation and gives the kids ownership of the family meal and a sense of pride.
I hope that these ideas spark bonding and connection in your home. Don't be afraid to get creative and enjoy each other in whatever way feels good to your family. Pick one area to start, and see if it feels like a fit, and works seamlessly into your routine. If it feels right, stick with it. If not, try something else. You can't go wrong if you are enjoying each other!
Ali Katz is the best-selling author of "Hot Mess to Mindful Mom: 40 Ways to Find Balance and Joy in Your Every Day
," a motivational speaker, and meditation expert. Ali's uncanny ability to make the concepts of self-care, meditation, and mindfulness feel relatable and downright fun, truly sets her apart from the traditional self-help crowd. Sign up to receive Ali's free gift of "Sunday Prep
" at www.hotmesstomindfulmom.com
and learn her six best tips to prepare for a stress-free week. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.