When the clock strikes midnight on January 1, many people breathe a sigh of relief. Whether you’re happy or sad to bid adieu to another year, there’s just something about having a clean slate in front of you to help you become the person – and family – you want to be in 2016. Here are a few ways you can build better family relationships in the coming year:
Eat together once a day.
With busy, conflicting schedules, we know that eating together every day can be a challenge. That said, countless studies show that eating a meal (or more than one) as a family every day can reap countless positive rewards on your family. Not only has it been linked to academic success for kids, but it also helps families connect and communicate in a different way than they do when everyone is running around doing their own thing. If this is a tough resolution for you to make, try to work up to daily dinners; start by committing to eating dinner together at least three times per week.
Turn off the phone.
Spending time together as a family can be superfluous if each family member is busy posting, texting, tweeting and playing games. When you’re spending time with your loved ones, make a goal to turn off the cell phones, tablets and other devices that distract from good, meaningful conversation and connection. It’s especially important to turn off phones during dinner when the point is to connect as a family. Learn to live in the present; you don’t get these moments back!
Teach your kids how to converse.
Kids look to their parents to learn social behaviors. That’s why it’s important to demonstrate good conversational behavior to your children. Family dinner is a great time to do this. Work on looking at the person you’re speaking to, using open body language and pausing to let the other person respond. Listen to what your child is saying and ask question to encourage the conversation to progress. If you need help, fill a box with fun conversational questions you can pull from during dinner; it turns family conversation into a bit of a game.
We live in a modern age, so it’s understandable that your cell phone or tablet is a big tool to help you get through work and other obligations. That said, you can use technology to connect as a family too! Start a group text thread and check in with each other throughout the day. Whether you’re sending a link to a funny video or a photo of something you saw on the street, you can share experiences with your family even when you’re not “with” your family!
Cultivate a family hobby.
Eating together is one thing; hiking in the mountains, bicycling through town or learning to throw pottery is another. This year, try to connect with your family outside your home by cultivating a hobby that everyone is interested in. Whether you’re a novice or an expert, you can learn together as a family to do something you all enjoy. Talk to your family to find an activity everyone agrees would be fun to try. This is important, as you’ll need “buy in” from every member of the family to be successful. Spend a little time every week engaging in your family’s new favorite hobby.
Reading is important – and not just for the little ones! Reading together can help stimulate brain development, increase language skills and promote academic success in your school-aged children. Choose a book or series that is appropriate for all members of your family and spend some time in the literal world with your family!
This year, your resolutions should reflect your top priority – your family! Make 2016 the best year your family has ever experienced.